PART 3: NEWSPAPER TECHNOLOGY AND IBM
Using new technology, the newspaper exploded with growth. Moffat County and Craig boomed with energy development and the arrival of coal-fired electric power plants. The small newspaper now had a two-unit new Goss printing press that could print color and 20,000 16-page newspapers an hour. We had 30 newspaper carriers and had expanded over a decade of growth purchasing other newspapers that failed to convert to the new offset printing boom.
The first of many newspapers purchased during our 19 years in Craig was The Middle Park Times in Kremmling, the oldest business in Grand County owned by Paul Way. I stopped by his newspaper, coming back from Denver on a Friday morning, Paul was still standing on a platform feeding his antique press sheets of paper. He was exhausted and the paper was late. His wife Mary was the linotype operator and the large office was filled with type cases, office supplies, and a windmill Heidelberg printing press for commercial printing.
Paul asked me if I would like to buy his newspaper. I said, “How much?” He said that he would sell the newspaper for $16,000 and that he would finance the purchase with $1000 down. We shook hands and agreed to do the deal at month’s end.
During that month he billed his subscribers and collected a considerable amount of money that I had to honor. There were no lawyers in Kremmling, so we went to a friend of his, a local rancher, and we sat around a table and wrote out the deal, shared a drink, and I gave him $1000 signing a note for $15,000. My first satellite newspaper of many to come had arrived, on a note and a handshake.
I was having a late lunch at the Kremmling café and I told the waitress that I had just purchased the local newspaper. She was overjoyed and stated, “I could put out a better newspaper than they print.” I said, “Really, do you want a job?” She said, “Yes” and she became the editor. Doris stayed with the newspaper for years and with her Polaroid camera we were able to print breaking news and cover high school sports for the first time in history. We shipped papers and copy back and forth on the Continental Trailways bus line that ran on U.S. 40 through Craig, Kremmling, on to Denver.
The newspaper was very successful. I paid the note off quickly and expanded the newspaper across Grand County. I did the summer programs for the Troupe of American College players at the theatre in Grand Lake. Only mistake I made was that I didn’t buy the Granby newspaper for $35,000 years later.
I was still locked in stiff competition in Craig with the Empire-Courier. Their response to my now booming daily newspaper was to purchase a brand new $65,000 Blue Comet linotype and continued to print on their poor-quality rotary broadsheet letterpress. In 14- years, I owned that newspaper, a dream come true.
TO BE CONTINUED: NEWSPAPER BUSINESS WAS BOOMING