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
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.