The Star-News sold this week to Cherry Road Media, according to John Cribb, Cribb, Cope & Potts who represented the sellers in the transaction.
CherryRoad Media, a subsidiary of CherryRoad Technologies, purchased its first newspaper in November 2020. Its bullish acquisition of newspapers in smaller communities reflects the company’s recognition of the need for locally focused journalism, said CEO and founder Jeremy Gulban. The company now owns 79 newspapers in 14 states.
Gulban said that one of CherryRoad’s key objectives is to marry its technology side with its local media side, to use technology to strengthen communities through their local newspapers.
The company believes the newspaper is an essential resource for developing strong communities. By using technology, it strives to supplement the printed newspaper with enhanced digital capabilities.
“Our team at CherryRoad is excited to be the new owners of The Star-News. We look forward to introducing new technologies to the publication, while maintaining the high standards of the printed newspaper. I have heard so many great things about the McCall community and look forward to visiting. Thank you to the Grote and Alford families for trusting us with the stewardship of The Star-News,” Gulban said.
The Star-News was owned for almost 50 years by Central Idaho Publishing Inc., which is the partnership between Tom and Tomi Grote of McCall and A.L. “Butch” Alford Jr., of Lewiston.
Alford bought what was then known as the Central Idaho Star-News in 1975. He is the senior publisher/editor of Tribune Publishing Company, which owns The Lewiston Morning Tribune and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, among other assets.
Central Idaho Publishing is a private holding for Alford, not affiliated with TPC. The Grotes came to McCall in 1983 as managers and a few years later, bought a half interest.
The Star-News is the product of a merger in 1967 between The Cascade News and The Payette Lakes Star. The three publications together trace over 100 years.
“Nancy and I have immensely appreciated having ownership for some 47 years, said Alford. “After all, McCall is our second home and it’s the place where the best hours have been spent with three sons.”
“When acquiring the Star-News, I fondly recall a conversation with then State Sen. Warren Brown, at his ski resort: ‘I hope you won’t be here today and gone in two years, reaping some profit. You know, being a carpetbagger,'” Alford recalls Brown telling him. “I think Warren, if alive, would have approved of the four-plus decades,” Alford said.
“The Star-News has been one of the blue-ribbon weekly newspapers in the Northwest, not just Idaho,” Alford said. “We hope that quality will continue. For that, the central Idaho community owes a thanks to the best newspaper couple I’ve ever known, Tom and Tomi Grote. We’ve all attempted to serve the McCall region well.”
“A community newspaper has a lot in common with a sports franchise,” said former Co-Publisher Tomi Grote. “It is a for-profit business. But, there is a sense of ownership among its readers which compares to a fan’s.”
“Sports fans are not always happy with their teams,” Grote said. “They question the decisions the coach makes. But they are loyal. Because of that, Tom, Butch and I have always thought of ourselves as stewards of something larger than us.”
“We look forward to seeing what Cherry Road will contribute to the legacy of all of the Star-News’ previous owners, all of whom have expressed their high regard for the paper’s readers in individual ways,” she said.
The Alford and Grote families were represented by John Cribb of Helena, Montana. The merger and acquisition firm Cribb, Cope & Potts is a leader in the field with offices in Montana, California and Arkansas.