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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I wrote a column for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle for 8 years starting in December 2007 and running until November 2015. Then I returned to column writing in August 2016, all of them archived here.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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DeKalb County Life column returns

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................Aug 25, 2016

Daily Chronicle Editor Eric Olson rekindled a simmering "fire in my belly" when he recently wrote about all the past editors of the newspaper and said I was the only one still writing here. Since I have tried "retiring" from my column twice in recent years, he is willing to give me one more shot at it-but there is a "three strikes law" that says once you swing and miss a third time you are "out." So here I am, back at bat in the bottom of the ninth, hoping to go extra innings, as they say in baseball.

Anyway, his column listing all the editors back to our godfather Clinton Rosette, circa1879, really puts into perspective how times have changed and editors come and go more frequently from the 1970s on into this new century.

Taking part in a 1970 panel discussion on how local media worked were from left Daily Chronicle editor Barry Schrader, moderator Joelynn Frisch from the League of Women Voters, WLBK news director Russ Pigott, and DeKalb County Journal editor Jerry Smith. (file photo)

One reason for the turnover is that back in the "early days" editors usually owned or co-owned the newspaper so had a vested interest in continuing in the job as long as their health permitted. That is why the first generation of editors-owners at the Chronicle "died with their boots on" so to speak, keeping their positions until the day they died. Then their offspring took over, in this case Bob Greenaway and the Raymond brothers-Chuck and Eddie.

When they finally sold the paper in early 1969, it was purchased by a "chain" owner Scripps-Hagadone based in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, so the publishers and editors since that time, through three more changes in group ownership, have been employees of the parent company, not the owners. So as employees they felt freer to change jobs, move on to other papers or even change careers. And a few were "let go" by new owners who brought in their own team.

At the present time we find the Chronicle and its sister paper The MidWeek owned by a local area northern Illinois family the Shaws who began with the Dixon Telegraph 165 years ago and have expanded to owning dozens of papers in the region. And most recently they named a "known local" publisher Karen Pletsch, whose husband, the late Lloyd Pletsch was editor here from 1981 to 1995 while Karen worked in advertising. By my count there have been only three local people named publisher since the chain ownerships began in 1969. The first was Ray Robinson, advertising manger who became publisher in 1972 and then Roger Warkins, formerly circulation manager who was publisher of another Scripps-Hagadone paper before being moved back to DeKalb as publisher.

Coincidentally, my old college classmate on the campus paper Jerry Smith just shared with me a 1970 newspaper photo of us while we were competing editors. He was editor of the fledgling DeKalb County Journal owned by John Castle and company, while I edited the Chronicle. In the photo are a young Barry Schrader, panel moderator Joanne Frisch from the League of Women Voters, the late Russ Pigott, news director of WLBK Radio for some 20 years (remember him on Party Line?) who later opened his own camera store Northern Illinois Photography until his death in 1994, and a very young-looking Jerry Smith, the aforementioned editor, who is now a good friend.


Editor's Note: After "retiring" some 10 months ago, Barry Schrader is returning to the Daily Chronicle with his bi-weekly column DeKalb County Life. He was editor of the Chronicle from 1969 through 1972 when he left for the west coast, then returned to his roots in DeKalb County in 2006. He first began writing this column in 2007.

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The columnist can be reached via email at :

barry815sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115