He is what he is. His voice is the one you hear in the barbershop; a one long-time colleague says. He does not use foul language in his writings. He writes the way that he talks, with directness, aggression, and passion.
Palmer Alexander III, 40, does not write to please readers. He coalesces his own thoughts about sports and puts them on paper to be published. Alexander is a sports columnist for the St. Louis American newspaper, a weekly paper that’s been serving the African-American community for 87 years.
“He’s definitely not the norm,” said Chip Smith, Alexander’s cousin. “He puts his soul and twist on everything. … He’s going to tell you what he thinks [whether] it’s good or bad.”
Alexander is outspoken about topics concerning sports in the St. Louis area. He does not try to get “cute” with his content. Alexander believes in being authentic. “Deliver the message straight right between the eyes. No chaser,” he said.
He is a sports fanatic. His whole life has been centered around it. Instead of writing, he had aspirations of becoming a basketball player growing up in North St. Louis, Mo. His passion for sports was evident at a young age. In high school, he used to read the newspaper to look up his opponents’ stats. He never imagined that he would one day work in sports media.
Alexander played basketball for Riverview Gardens High School in St. Louis, from his freshman to junior year. After getting cut from Riverview Gardens in 1992, he transferred to North Technical High School in Florissant, to play basketball in his senior year.
He remembers his basketball playing days vividly. Alexander reminisces about the times where he scored baskets for his team to propel them to victories. And he remembers throwing jaw-dropping, no-look passes to teammates to cause the crowd’s noise level to crescendo. He enjoyed the pandemonium.
After graduating from high school, Alexander enrolled in the Naval Station Great Lakes, a naval boot camp located in North Chicago, Ill. He says his time at the Naval Station Great Lakes “just wasn’t the right fit from [the] jump…I was in Basic Training in Great Lakes, Illinois aka [the] Great Mistake.” He then returned to St. Louis and started working out.
He then noticed that the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) office was downtown. So, he decided inquire about the CBA because he wanted to continue playing basketball.
“I was only 18. And the commissioner of the league was Mark Lamping, who is now in the front office of the Jacksonville Jaguars. [He] told me to think about what I’m doing because I signed a waiver giving up my college eligibility if I entered the CBA Draft in 1994,” Alexander said.
Of course, he didn’t get drafted. He did receive a letter from the Quad City Thunder and was invited for a tryout. Alexander needed permission from his parents to sign the waiver. He never tried out for the team because his father would not sign the consent form to allow him to participate.
His father was upset that he signed his college eligibility away. As a result, his father said he needed to get a job since he didn’t want to enroll into a college. Alexander stopped playing basketball in 1995 while playing in the Midnight League in St. Louis.
“I played against some of the greats like Demetrius Alexander, a 6’8 big man who was smooth. And I knew the game very well. I played the game on the court with my mind, and I felt that I would make a great commentator because of the way I saw the game,” Alexander said.
Alexander’s career in sports media started off on a locally produced show called “Chalk Talk” that was hosted by Randy Karraker on Charter Communications in St. Louis. He was also on a show called “Primetime Sports” with Randy Gardner on News 20 in Black Jack, Missouri. Alexander then decided to go look for a job at the St. Louis American newspaper. He wanted to write about football.
“I noticed that the St. Louis American really didn’t have anyone doing football, so I approached them. And the rest was history,” Alexander said. He has been a columnist for the St. Louis American newspaper since Aug. 2004.
As a columnist, his job is to insert his own opinions about sports, but he still has to do some research on whatever topic he is writing about. Alexander “stack thoughts” and retrieve them in his mind when preparing sports stories.
Not only is Alexander a columnist, but he is also an on-air talent for “N The Zone Show.” Alexander describes the podcast as a “mixed bag of some of everything.” He enjoys doing the podcast with executive producer Arlington Lane.
“I’m not the easiest person to work with. And he has done a great job of making the ideas in my head come to life. He’s shown the ability to make it sound the exact way I envisioned it. The show is hard-hitting. We push the limits and people like it,” Alexander explained.
Lane said that Alexander is the same off the air as he is on it. Sometimes he can be serious, and sometimes he can laugh and joke. They talk to each other twice a day, and Lane said he is his “go-to for advice.”
Lane likes Alexander’s passion for sports. “He’s aggressive. But that’s good for me. I need that aggression. It truly helps me to become the best producer that I can be,” Lane said. He also thinks of Alexander as an “older brother.”
Aside from their podcast, Lane believes Alexander is very important to the St. Louis American sports section.