“Every issue of the paper, you have to give your readers at least one thing they can’t get anywhere else.’’
Those were the words of wisdom from Charles Richards.
The guy who used to own this newspaper.
The guy whose family owned this newspaper and the Regional for decades.
It’s no longer Charles in Charge around here.
On Friday, Richards signed the papers that sold the papers (and a building that includes everything from the press to the rusty paper clips in a drawer that probably hasn’t been open since the 1970s) to a group led by Mark Hornung and Steve Landek. Regional Publishing will be known as Southwest Regional Publishing Company – or SRPC.
One day, we hope that we will be as popular and well known as other folks who share those initials – the Secure Remote Payment Council, the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada, the Saudi Research and Publishing Company, the Stones River Pony Club, and, of course, the Stillwater Rifle and Pistol Club.
For now, we go through a transition. It’s both a scary and exciting time for us.
We think the new owners like what we’re doing here. We think that we’ve been making strides informing and entertaining our readers at these two papers. And we know darn well that it’s a lot more than once that we give our readers something they can’t get anywhere else.
Amy Richards will stay on as the publisher, which is good because we know her and she knows us and she knows the nine communities that the two papers serve. It’s not like some hotshot from parts unknown is going to come in here making a bunch of demands and suggestions even though he or she couldn’t find Harlem Avenue if you gave them a GPS.
So there will be a Richards still overseeing the ship.
Meanwhile, for Charles it will be a bittersweet first week away from a business that’s been in his blood for years.
A big part of him will miss it. A small part of him will be glad to be rid of all the headaches of running in a newspaper in these lousy economic times.
Hornung, on the other hand, appears to be an aggressive go-getter who will be dishing out the headaches rather than receiving them. The other papers he runs – including the nearby Southwest News Herald and Desplaines Valley News – have a heck of a lot of ads and the papers have a nice look to them.
The past couple of weeks have been historic, emotional and frankly, a little weird for us with the changes afoot. But we will soldier on and keep trying to give the readers a reason to look forward to Thursdays.
As for Charles? I’ve only known him for two years and while most of the people here have known him longer and have better stories to tell, I’ll leave you with this one:
In late July, he was in the middle of some important business and as he was about to go into an office for a power meeting, he said something loudly. Me being one of the human jukeboxes in the office, I sang whatever line it was that he said.
Well, that didn’t go over too well.
He shouted “Shut up!” to me and slammed the door. There were chuckles from the others in the office about that. Vorva was in trouble.
A few minutes later, he came out with a rolled up newspaper and I was thinking “Geez, I wonder if he’s going to hit me with that paper…” He said in a stern voice “Let me tell you something…”
I was all ready for a lecture about either office decorum or about how bad my singing voice is.
Instead he spent a few minutes complimenting me on how much he loved a previous issue of the paper.
You never know what you are going to get from Charles.
I do know this -- I received some interesting insight on the world of newspapers then and now from the man. I didn’t always agree with him, but I learned from him. And so did a lot of others in this building.
The Reporter and Regional will go on without him. But a part of him will stay with this place forever.
And in his honor, I will do my best to keep giving the readers something they can’t get anywhere else.