The Seaside Signal, a weekly paid newspaper in Seaside, Ore., owned by Semaphore Communications and Kyle Larson, has been sold to Seaside Signal, Inc., a Wyoming corporation, according to John Cribb, Cribb & Associates, LLC, who represented the seller in the transaction. Publisher Kyle Larson made the announcement to staff yesterday and introduced Tom and Annie Mullen, two partners of the company that is buying the newspaper. The sale is effective July 1, 2005.
Tom Mullen is operations manager for a Wyoming company that owns 11 community newspapers. The company is owned and operated by three families – Gary and Sue Stevenson of Sheridan, Wyo., Robb and Jen Hicks of Buffalo, Wyo., and the Mullens, who have recently moved to Sheridan after operating a weekly newspaper in Newcastle, Wyo., for 10 years.
When asked by Jennifer Bradshaw, office manager, why the company was interested in buying this newspaper, Mullen said, “A long-time associate of ours brought the opportunity to purchase the newspaper to us, and we had been familiar with a previous owner of the Signal for many years and we knew that they had some great properties on the coast. It was just fate and good timing that we are, finally, buying one of the coastal newspapers. It is one that fits nicely into our company.”
Mullen continued, “While the Signal is far away from our other newspapers, when we visited the market, we all said – ‘how could we not be involved in this community?’ – it’s just a great place.” Given the realities of distance, Mullen said, “We realize that absentee ownership isn’t the best for a newspaper. There are only three families who are involved in our company, and we now have 12 newspapers, so we can’t be everywhere at once. However, we have so many wonderful people on staff at the newspapers in all of our markets, and our experience is that they are the heart of every newspaper, the ones who can best serve the community. I have no doubt the staff of the Signal will operate similarly.” Tom and Annie intend to be in Seaside regularly throughout the summer, working with the staff and designating new leadership.
Kyle Larson, publisher since February 2003, will be leaving his post. “After considering all of my options and talking it over with my son Jack, I decided that I wanted to do something else with my life. Six months ago my family and I began searching for a new owner for the Signal, and we’re delighted to now place the newspaper in the experienced, resourceful hands of Tom and Annie Mullen and their partners.” Larson intends to stay in the Seaside area and pursue other interests. “Jack and I have grown quite fond of Seaside and the north coast,” he said. His last day will be June 30.
The Wyoming-based partners also own the following community newspapers: Crested Butte (CO) News; Sydney (NE) Telegraph; Bounty; Driggs (ID) Teton Valley News; Glasgow (MT) Courier; Deer Lodge (MT) Silver State Post; Philipsburg (MT) Mail; and Wyoming newspapers – Pine Bluffs Post; Saratoga Sun; Buffalo Bulletin; Newcastle News Letter Journal; and the Sheridan County Bounty.
“We’re proud to have many award-winning newspapers in our group,” said Mullen, “and we just have the best people in the world who run them.” Mullen said the company believes in having fun and doing good work in the communities that they serve. “Our believe is that a newspaper, when done well, can be the lifeblood, the heart of the community it serves, and that will be our intention with the Seaside Signal.” Mullen added that he is impressed with the progress the Signal staff has made with the newspaper and that he will work with the staff in continual improvement, as well as discovering what the community needs of its local newspaper.
Terms of the private sale were not disclosed. All current staff has been hired by Seaside Signal, Inc., and will be working closely with Tom and Annie Mullen on the transition.
Cribb & Associates is an eighty-two year old newspaper brokerage firm with offices in Montana, Virginia and Florida.