Today we hear from Eric Jay Toll, the senior (and only) correspondent at Arizona Builders Exchange (AZBEX). Eric is also a regular contributor to Arizona Business and Arizona Commercial Real Estate (AZRE) magazine and a freelance travel writer!
At AZBEX Eric covers land development, new constructions, real estate, government projects and building-related news. He follows trends in CRE and the legislature. For Arizona Business magazine, and AZRE he has covered economic development and recently authored special sections on Arizona Association for Economic Development (AZRE, November-December 2013), Greater Phoenix Economic Council (AZ Business, January-February 2014) and Arizona Commerce Authority (AZ Business, March-April 2014).
Eric has been a freelance travel journalist for more than five years and has traipsed across the Southwest, California, Mexico and Québec for publications, including USA Today, Examiner, Trails and TravelingDad.
What do you want to share on the blogosphere?
Life was so different before it all changed.
I love the rich diversity of what I do. Mondays and Thursdays, I’m AZBEX. I start at 4:30 in the morning and need to have five or six original stories and 15 to 20 summaries completed by 2 in the afternoon. The pressure and intensity recalls writing news for an all-news radio station, WBBM, Chicago, when I was 19. Here I am, decades later, back at the keyboard.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, I’m on the phone or in offices writing for my other outlets. I’m always thrilled by the privilege of listening to people share their thoughts and bringing the character and life of those meetings into my writing. I always walk away from an interview with a sense of awe about what people do.
The journalism today is a full career circle. I started as disk jockey in high school and grew into the role of news writer at CBS Radio while I was in college. I spent the rest of that decade in broadcasting and advertising.
Being an old hippy, I returned to school to become an urban planner. I actually didn’t start out as wanting to be a planner, I didn’t even know what it was. I wanted to be an architect, but I couldn’t do the math. I still can’t, just ask my editor and banker. When I learned that planners can affect change, I was hooked.
For the next 30 years, I worked in local governments as a planner and agency director advocating for quality of life, quality development and a sense of place. I came to Phoenix in 2004 to design residential communities—so in 2008 the recession gave me an opportunity to reinvent myself.
Now, I’ve returned to my journalistic roots.
Living in Arizona is the best. I’m an avid camper, and slog into the back country with my chocolate lab, Hershey. After a bout with a beer belly, I became an avid road and trail cyclist. This is an important part of my life, because I love to cook. It’s hereditary; I get it from my daughter, who is a professional chef.
A native of Pennsylvania, I spent enough years in the Chicago area to consider myself a Illini. I’ve lived in the West since Tucson in 1975. My work and opportunities took me to California, Oregon, Nevada, and Utah before being able to return to the desert I love in 2004.
Northeast Phoenix is home.