Posted by Chuck Chase on May 18, 2017
Our own John Elchert gave his member moment and began by telling us that he was born in Tiffin, Ohio, and started his career at his hometown newspaper as their Circulation Director. He also served as their Advertising Director there for a while. He and his wife soon fell in love with the Upper Peninsula. His local paper also sold newspapers in Houghton and there was a job opening for a Publisher and he took it. He spent 9 winters there and said the average snowfall was about 275 inches per year! Snow would be on the ground from October through mid-April, John said.
John said he was number six of ten kids and that he and his wife have five themselves along with six grandchildren. They moved to Warren, Pennsylvania so that their youngest daughter could take up ice skating in Jamestown, NY to further her already professional ice skating career. At 18 years old (she’s 23 now) she connected with Disney and toured with their Disney on Ice troupe for the next five years. She is now finishing college in Mankato, Minnesota where he and his family just moved from to come here. She now has a job opportunity as a skating instructor back in Minnesota.
Faced with becoming empty nesters, he and his wife pondered where they would live. He got a call from a recruiter who discussed a possible position in Farmington, New Mexico which he accepted and were there for the next 5 years. Then they were off to Mankato, Minnesota for a time and then eventually here to Adrian last December. John said he still had a lot of family in Tiffin. His Father-in-Law will be 97 and is in an assisted living facility so they are able to visit him more often.
John attended a Catholic High School in Tiffin and really couldn’t wait to leave the area due to a lack of opportunity and things to do. He attended the University of Toledo where he graduated with a degree in Education with aspirations to become a teacher and a coach. In the early 80’s, he said, teaching jobs were hard to find. He worked in the dorms and sports area to pay for his education. He eventually ran a 16-floor dorm on campus while starting on a Master’s Degree when he got a call from the Publisher from the Tiffin newspaper from whom he and his and his family lived across the street growing up. He was offered the job of Circulation Manager there. John told the audience that he and his family loved to read the local newspaper which became something of a ritual with them.
Having been in the newspaper business for over 35 years, John admitted that he rarely has a boring day. Some 10 years ago the industry changed greatly due to the digital age we live in today. He said that the Daily Telegram today is “bucking the trend” with distribution nationwide declining an average 8-10% per year. The distribution of the Daily Telegram, on the other hand, is up a quarter of a percent compared to a year ago! This is a very strong newspaper market he said. In terms of those accessing their website from between just this past March through April of this year, they found there were 188,344 unique visitors to the Daily Telegram’s site alone to get news and information. Metropolitan newspapers are having a difficult time. However, community newspapers like his are very strong. They are particularly pleased with the amount of commercial print the paper does, he said. About 13,000 newspapers are printed here every day. This takes only 45 minutes, John said. They print other papers for other communities as well which keep the presses running for two and sometimes three full shifts!
John said that the Daily Telegram employs about 70 people. The Monroe News is their sister publication and was purchased about two years ago. That printing will be brought here to Adrian, John said, which is now being done by a third party so they can keep the business in house. The Daily Telegram is owned by Gatehouse Media – the second largest newspaper company in the country. They have a digital side – Propel Media – that develops websites and other digital marketing programs. The Daily Telegram can meet anyone’s digital marketing needs. John concluded by saying that “we are so much more than just a newspaper”!