Category: Radio Iowa

Nate Bargatze to Perform at Hoyt Sherman Place, Saturday, March 7

Saturday, March 7, Nate Bargatze will be at Hoyt Sherman Place at 7 p.m.

Hailing from Old Hickory, Tennessee, rising stand-up comedian Nate Bargatze is selling out shows across America. On March 26, 2019, Nate’s first solo one hour Netflix special, The Tennessee Kid, premiered globally.

Nate followed in the showbiz footsteps of his dad, a former clown turned world class magician, who’s influence is seen on Nate’s 2015 debut special Full Time Magic and his debut album Yelled at By a Clown. Nate’s half-hour Netflix Special The Standups premiered on July 4, 2017, to rave reviews. In addition to touring the country as a headliner, Nate toured in arenas with Chris Rock on his 2017 Total Blackout Tour. He currently has a deal with 20th Century Fox to develop his own TV show.

Nate’s comedy is both clean and relatable, evident in his six appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon following four appearances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He appeared on Conan four times, was a recurring guest on @midnight, and had his own Comedy Central Presents in 2011. Off-screen, Nate was part of Jimmy Fallon’s Clean Cut Comedy Tour, and has done live shows for the troops in Iraq and Kuwait five times. He regularly performs at Bonnaroo, SXSW, Oddball Comedy Festival, Sasquatch, Clusterfest, and the JFL Montreal Comedy Festival, where he’s received critical acclaim multiple years in a row.

Nate was featured as one of Esquire’s ‘Best New Comedians’ by Jim Gaffigan, one of Marc Maron’s ‘Comedians to Watch’ in Rolling Stone, one of Variety’s “10 Comics to Watch” for 2015, and as #1 on Vulture’s ‘50 Comedians You Should Know’ in 2015. His debut one hour special, Full Time Magic, premiered on Comedy Central that spring, followed by his debut album, Yelled at by a Clown, which reached #1 on the iTunes Comedy Charts and remained on Billboard’s Top Ten Comedy Charts for weeks.

He continues to tour across the country and internationally.

For additional information about the benefits of becoming a Hoyt Sherman Place Member, including presale opportunities, please visit

Tickets go on sale Friday, November 22nd at 10:00 AM and can be purchased in person at the Hoyt Sherman Place Box Office, charged by phone at 800-745-3000 or online at


The Holiday Promenade in Historic East Village is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 22 from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Holiday Promenade is the kickoff to the holiday season in Downtown Des Moines (DSM) and has a fun-filled weekend of events.

The Holiday Promenade Schedule

Friday, Nov. 22

5:30 – 8:30 p.m. – Horse-drawn Trolley Rides at the Historical Building on E. Locust St.
6 p.m. – Tree Lighting Ceremony with Santa at Brenton Skating Plaza
6 p.m. – Tap Dancers on the corner of E. 5th and E. Locust St.
6 – 8 p.m. – Chocolate Milk Cheer Station on the corner of E. Grand and E. 2nd St.
6:30 p.m. – Ice Carving Demonstration at Brenton Skating Plaza
7:15 – 8:15 p.m. – Santa at LifeServe Blood Center
9 p.m. – Fireworks Sponsored by MidAmerican Energy Company

Saturday, Nov. 23

10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Santa in the Historic East Village Businesses
12 – 3 p.m. – Horse-drawn Trolley Rides at the Historical Building on E. Locust St.
12 p.m. – Tap Dancers on the corner of E. 5th and Locust St.
12:30 p.m. – East High School Bell Choir on E. Locust St. adjacent from E. 3rd St.
1 – 3 p.m. – Chocolate Milk Cheer Station on the corner of E. Grand and E. 2nd St.

The Des Moines Symphony kicks off the holiday season with Thanksgiving weekend screenings of Home Alone, the beloved holiday comedy starring Macauley Culkin. Led by guest conductor John Beal, the Orchestra will play John Williams’ Academy Award® -nominated score live as the complete film is shown in HD on a giant screen. A 70-voice choir composed of Des Moines Public School students will join the Orchestra onstage to sing carols featured in the film.

Home Alone, dubbed a “carefree and wry” comedy by The New York Times, features Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, an 8-year-old boy who is accidentally left behind when his family leaves for Christmas vacation and must defend his home against two bungling thieves.
Released in 1990, Home Alone dominated the box office, appearing in more than 1,200 theaters and earning over $17 million in in its opening weekend. Though the modestly-budgeted film was expected to be a sleeper, it held the No. 1 spot at the North American box office for 12 consecutive weekends and remained in theaters for nearly 200 days from November 1990 to June 1991. By the time it was bumped off the top of the-time, U.S. box-office draw list in October 2017, it had grossed more than $285 million.

Though the film is beloved for its hilarious catchphrases, stunts and mishaps, the comedic elements of Home Alone are offset by a delightful magic that only John Williams can bring to a film score.

Lukas Kendall, founder and editor of Film Score Monthly, told NPR, “[John Williams] has a breadth and depth of talent and career that really started before there were The Beatles; [today he is] essentially the dean of American composers. His themes sound inevitable. They sound like they fell out of his sleeves; they sound like they’ve always existed.”

John Williams sets Home Alone apart from other live-action, comedies meant for the entire family with music that’s imaginative and memorable, capturing both the rambunctious nature of the film and the essence of the holiday spirit. Williams writes: “Ever since Home Alone appeared, it has held a unique place in the affections of a very broad public. Director Chris Columbus brought a uniquely fresh and innocent approach to this delightful story, and the film has deservedly become a perennial favorite at holiday time.”

Home Alone in Concert will be performed at the Des Moines Civic Center on Saturday, Nov. 30, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 1, at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $20-$75 and can be purchased online at, by phone at 515.246.2300, or at the Civic Center Ticket Office located at 221 Walnut Street in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Film

Distributed by 20th Century Fox, Home Alone was written and produced by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus. It was released in 1990 and was the highest-grossing live action comedy film for more than two decades. The score, composed by John Williams, was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Original Score. In addition, the film also received a nomination for Best Original Song, “Somewhere in My Memory,” with music composed by Williams and lyrics written by Leslie Bricusse. The cast of Home Alone includes Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard and Catherine O’Hara.

John Williams, composer

John Williams is one of America’s most accomplished composers for both films and the concert stage. He has composed scores and served as music director for more than 100 films, including all seven Star Wars films and three Harry Potter films. His 40-year partnership with director Steven Spielberg has resulted in many of Hollywood’s most successful films, and his contributions to TV music include themes for NBC Nightly News, NBC’s Meet the Press and PBS’ Great Performances. He has also composed themes for three summer and one winter Olympic Games. Among his honors are five Academy Awards®, 49 Oscar® nominations and 21 Grammys®. In 2009, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences; he has also received the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the U.S. government. He served as Music Director of the Boston Pops Orchestra for 14 seasons, and is currently its Laureate Conductor.


Home Alone in Concert
Saturday, Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 1 at 1:30 p.m.
Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines; open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and two hours prior to performances.
Tickets: $20-$75


The Des Moines Symphony is a not-for-profit, professional orchestra formed in 1937 to enrich, educate and inspire the community by performing great orchestral music. The Symphony Association, governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees and operating on an annual budget of more than $3.8 million, supports the Symphony Academy and its numerous music education programs including four youth orchestras, and supports the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra which performs seven pairs of Masterworks concerts, a Pops series including the traditional New Year’s Eve Pops, education, outreach and family concerts, and other special events in its home at the Des Moines Civic Center. The organization also produces and performs the Des Moines Symphony’s annual Yankee Doodle Pops concert in July on the grounds of the Iowa State Capitol, which attracts more than 100,000, the largest single day attendance of any concert event in the State.

You are invited to LIGHT Valley Junction!

Historic Valley Junction will unveil Phase 1 of LIGHT Valley Junction at 4 p.m. on Nov. 21 as it kicks off the holiday season with MINGLE & JINGLE in the Junction.

The Historic Valley Junction Foundation has partnered with Valley Junction based KCL Engineering to create a lighting solution that celebrates our historic charm while attracting visitors of all ages from near and far. KCL Engineering is a national leader in innovative lighting installations that include Yankee Stadium, Knott’s Berry Farm and Adventureland.

LIGHT Valley Junction will be an interactive, comprehensive and district-wide lighting installation that will attract more visitors to the business district and neighborhood. The result will be cutting-edge and unlike lighting projects found throughout the Midwest.

LIGHT Valley Junction, sponsored by the City of West Des Moines, Polk County Board of Supervisors, Prairie Meadows, the Historic Valley Junction Foundation and KCL Engineering, will be unveiling Phase 1 of this transformative project to the public on Thursday, Nov. 21 from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Initiating in Railroad Park, the inaugural year of LIGHT Valley Junction will showcase an inspiring combination of color-changing lights, providing a truly inspiring experience with many unique effects. With LED technology, the system is economical, energy-efficient, and capable of sophisticated programming to create spectacular shows. Subsequent phases of LIGHT Valley Junction will create a multitude of interactive, comprehensive, district-wide lighting installations to be enjoyed throughout the business district yearlong.

Project Managers for LIGHT Valley Junction have this to say about the project…..

Julie Eliason, Director of Marketing at KCL Engineering says, “It feels serendipitous forward-thinking Historic Valley Junction Foundation and forward-thinking KCL found ourselves with this incredible, transformative opportunity. Valley Junction is our home and we feel privileged that our own backyard is now an innovation lab for cutting-edge lighting technology. We can’t wait to continue showing the world what community placemaking through lighting can do.”

“LIGHT Valley Junction is the brainchild of Historic Valley Junction’s former, long-time Executive Director, Jim Miller, and would not have been possible without his creativity nor would this project have come to LIGHT without the generous support of our financial partners: The City of West Des Moines, Polk County Board of Supervisors, Prairie Meadows Race Track and Casino and KCL Engineering,” said Jamie Lamb, Project Manager for Historic Valley Junction Foundation.

Historic Valley Junction is six blocks of specialty shops that include art galleries, antique shops, fashion boutiques, salons, service businesses and restaurants. For more information on Valley Junction or event details, visit

2019 Urbandale Citizen of the Year Announced

On Tuesday, the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce surprised Tom Gayman, owner of Performance Realty, LLC and Urbandale City Council Member, with the news that he was selected as the 2019 Citizen of the Year.

While serving three terms on Urbandale City Council, Tom has worked tirelessly for the citizens of Urbandale. In addition, he has served in a number of capacities including: as Chair the DART Commission, Mayor Pro Tem in 2011 and 2014, Co-Chair of the Community Improvement Program 2012–14, Urbandale Citizens Fire Academy graduate, Urbandale Citizen’s Police Academy graduate, Iowa Honor Flight volunteer and guardian, Urbandale Chamber Past President, Urbandale Chamber Board Member, Urbandale Chamber Volunteer of the Year, Greater Des Moines Partnership Affiliate Chamber Council President, Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute Graduate, Eagle Scout and Northwest Rotary Club member from 2000 – 2005 . Annually, he would travel to Washington DC to advocate on behalf of Urbandale and for public transportation. He has served on the Urbandale Economic Development Task Force as well as is a Past Board Member for Rebuilding Together of Greater Des Moines and the Des Moines Embassy Club.

Prior to his time on Urbandale City Council, Tom led the Chamber’s first Total Resource Campaign, which launched the organization to the next level. “Tom bleeds Urbandale” was the last statement written in Tom’s nomination, and the Chamber agrees.

Tom will receive his award during Sample Urbandale, A Celebration of Business on Thursday, Sept. 21. Tickets are on sale now for $35 each.

The Urbandale Chamber of Commerce is a membership-based business organization that serves, protects and promotes its members.

Our legacy is more than our bank accounts

Our legacy is more than our bank accounts

I was in Dubuque last week to toast a friend who was retiring after a long and distinguished career. There was a big community reception that was attended by scores of people.

The speakers mentioned his many contributions to the company where he worked for 33 years. They commented on the awards he had received and how he had helped make Dubuque a better community.

There were congratulatory letters read from some notable Iowans — former Gov. Terry Branstad, U.S. Senator Charles Grassley and a friend, the Most Rev. William Joensen, the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines.

But it was the mention of his family — his wife, their four children, the flock of grandkids — that had the honoree dabbing at his eyes.

Not surprisingly.

When the time comes for the One Great Scorer to tally the pluses and minuses of our lives, it won’t be the numbers in our bank accounts or the size of our houses that will show up on the score sheet.

The bigger factor in the score book of life will be the longest-lasting pieces of our legacy — our children — and how they are living their lives.

I was thinking about this even before the retirement gathering in Dubuque.

Whenever there is a news report about nurses, the often-unsung heroes of America’s hospitals, I smile with parental pride. The oldest Evans offspring, daughter Sara, is a pediatric nurse, and she throws herself into helping kids get better or making whatever time they have left in this world as comfortable as possible.

I was also reflecting on the kids-as-our-legacy idea recently when I was asked to write an essay as part of the national 25th anniversary of the start of AmeriCorps, the federal government’s national volunteer service program.

I was invited to write not because of my typing abilities but because the youngest Evans offspring, daughter Katie, is an AmeriCorps alum.

When she received her degree from Iowa State University in 2007, the recession had pretty much torpedoed many employers’ desire or ability to fill job vacancies. My ulcer was working overtime as I wondered what she would do.

Like many of you, I was not aware of AmeriCorps. But Katie was, and she mentioned her interest in applying for the program.

Little could I imagine what was ahead of her as she packed her bags to head off to Sacramento, Calif., to begin her AmeriCorps service. I could not foresee then how AmeriCorps would help focus her priorities in life.

It wasn’t long before she and her AmeriCorps team members were dispatched to Louisiana to help in the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes that had pounded the Gulf Coast.

It was there in Louisiana and Mississippi that two proud parents back in Iowa learned of what AmeriCorps members meant to people whose lives were touched by these dedicated young adults.

Katie and her AmeriCorps colleagues spent weeks working along the Gulf Coast, helping Habitat for Humanity provide safe and sturdy housing to the hard-hit region.

One day in the checkout line at a grocery store illustrates the impact these young people were having on the region. The clerk noticed the AmeriCorps emblem on Katie’s shirt and told her, “Thank you for all you are doing down here.”

Hearing about that, my wife and I realized the service by Katie and others in AmeriCorps was important beyond just the houses they were building to replace those destroyed by the storms. These AmeriCorps members were helping to heal and rebuild the spirit of the people along the Gulf of Mexico, too.

We smiled with parental pride when Katie called home one evening in 2008 to update us on her work. She and her team members had been living in spartan conditions in a vacant school. They were delivering construction materials to keep hundreds of volunteer homebuilders supplied.

The volunteers had come from across the United States to work alongside Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter during the annual week-long Habitat for Humanity event that featured Habitat’s most famous volunteers building homes for hurricane victims.

That was not the only time we beamed with pride during Katie’s AmeriCorps service.

We eagerly shared with our friends her accounts of learning to frame and roof new houses, her patient explanations of the differences between plywood and OSB lumber, and her descriptions of hanging doors and building shelves as the houses neared completion.

My guy friends were envious when I told them Katie had been running a forklift and Bobcat.

Smaller events were fodder for proud parental memories, too — like the day Katie worked with First Lady Michelle Obama on a playground construction project in a poor neighborhood of San Francisco, or the hours that she and her AmeriCorps team members spent clearing storm debris from around the homes of grateful elderly people in Louisiana, or the weeks spent mentoring kids like Rico, Jack and Javaughn at a Boys & Girls Club in California.

While Katie talks about these memories, she is more likely to talk about lessons she learned from the people she served during two years with AmeriCorps — lessons like not judging people by what they don’t have, or being willing to help the less fortunate in ways big and small, or being drawn to a job for the difference you can make, rather than the paycheck size.

And that, and her sister Sara’s work with those kiddos in the hospital in Chicago, are why this parent was thinking about the One Great Scorer last week. ♦

Randy Evans can be reached at

Free “Wellness Weekends” at Smash Park

Smash Park has come up with a new concept for community engagement. Back in September, Smash Park started doing “Wellness Weekends” in the Yard and will move these pop-up classes inside as the weather changes. The goal of Wellness Weekends is to bring in different fitness studios and organizations to teach group classes on Saturdays. The creation of “Wellness Weekends” was intended for Smash Park to partner with local wellness centers and to invite the public to come and try different types of workout classes at Smash Park for free. This allows businesses to gain more exposure while the public can try classes for free and Smash Park can provide the space. Not only are people able to teach classes but are more than welcome to have a booth for membership sign-ups or have branded materials or just to talk with people who love to exercise.

Wellness Weekends fitness classes are always free. Smash Park is located at 6625 Coachlight Drive, West Des Moines. For more information, visit

Play reflects on the filming of “Cold Turkey” in Greenfield.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the filming of “Cold Turkey” in central Iowa — much of it in Greenfield — and the community is celebrating with a stage production of an original play, “A Town of Extras: The filming of Cold Turkey.”

This play, written by Tammy Pearson of Greenfield, began with an idea of the Friends of the Sidey Collection to do something to commemorate the 50th “Cold Turkey” anniversary. First, two game shows called “What’s the Line in ’69?” were performed this fall to help raise money. The shows utilized photos taken from the pages of the 1969 Adair County Free Press editions.

Being a writer, Pearson offered her talent, using Ed Sidey’s “Cold Turkey” coverage and photos, along with memories shared by locals. One example is a conversation with Tom Anderson of Greenfield. Tom shared his interaction with Norman Lear, when as a high school boy, he chastised Lear for dissing his hometown as Lear was scouting the town for a possible site of his movie. Sadly, Anderson died earlier this year and won’t see how the episode is portrayed in the play. This and other events were assembled in an insightful “look back” at 1969 as our local communities interacted with Hollywood.

“A Town of Extras” will be presented the weekend of Thanksgiving (Nov. 29 and 30 at 7 p.m. and De. 1 at 2 p.m.) by the Cumberland Rose Players in the Warren Cultural Center on the square in Greenfield. In addition to some CRP veterans, many new faces will be introduced to the stage of the WCC in this production. Local lawyer Mike Maynes, in his first role since high school, is excited to be playing the lead role of Ed Sidey, as he tells the story of movie making events — in Sidey’s own words. A few of the cast even played a part in the filming of the movie, such as Jay Howe who played the part of a newsman in the movie. In the play, he is Norman Lear. Elwood Elm even makes an appearance, inspired by one of Sidey’s columns. Ages of the cast range from middle school on up. The production is directed by Pearson and Dan Dickinson, also of Greenfield.

Many photos from the Adair County Free Press are used to help tell the story of everyone from actors and actresses, to others involved in the production of the movie, such as sound lights, costumes, etc., to those in Greenfield who took the pledge to quit smoking in 1969. Main Street/Chamber Director Stacie Hull has provided her expertise throughout the entire process.

Tickets are available online at and at Ed & Eva’s store: (641) 743-2566. Tickets are $15 for adults, and high school and younger are free.

Valley Junction stores gear up for holiday shoppers

Stores in Historic Valley Junction are gearing up for holiday shopping! Many stores have extended holiday shopping hours, and the district will celebrate its annual Jingle in the Junction events as well as Small Business Saturday.

Historic Valley Junction will kick-off the holiday season on Nov. 21 with MINGLE & JINGLE in the Junction. Stop by to meet Valley Junction merchants and pick up your holiday shopping passport. Mingle and Jingle in the Junction will include holiday dance performances, Santa, horse-drawn trolley rides, balloons and MORE!

LIGHT Valley Junction, sponsored by the City of West Des Moines, Polk County Board of Supervisors, Prairie Meadows, the Historic Valley Junction Foundation and KCL Engineering, will be unveil Phase 1 of this transformative project to the public on Nov. 21 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Initiating in Railroad Park, the inaugural year of LIGHT Valley Junction will showcase an inspiring combination of color-changing lights, providing a truly inspiring experience with many unique effects. With LED technology the system is economical, energy-efficient, and capable of sophisticated programming to create spectacular shows. Subsequent phases of LIGHT Valley Junction will create a multitude of interactive, comprehensive, district-wide lighting installations to be enjoyed throughout the business district year-long.

The Historic Valley Junction district will also celebrate Small Business Saturday on November 30th. Small Business Saturday started in 2010 as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday as a way to encourage shoppers to patronize local businesses. During this special shopping day, the first 500 shoppers to stop at Historic City Hall, 137 Fifth St., will receive a Small Business Saturday reusable bag filled with store coupons and other treasures. Small businesses donate 250 percent more than larger businesses to non-profits and community causes (Source: Seattle Good Business Network). If you spend $100 at a local business, roughly $68 stays in your local economy. If you spend the same at a large business, only $43 stays in the local economy (Source: Civic Economics Study in Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Sponsored by Veridian Credit Union, Historic Valley Junction will hold its annual Jingle in the Junction events on Thursday, December 5th, 12th and 19th. The businesses in Historic Valley Junction and the streets will be lined with thousands of twinkling lights. In addition, the Jingle in the Junction celebrations will include FREE horse-drawn trolley rides, merchant events and specials, caroling provided by local groups, ice sculpture carvings and more! Santa will be visiting Historic Valley Junction for Mingle and Jingle in the Junction and each Jingle in the Junction listening to wishes.

Rumor has it that Santa will, also, be visiting Historic Valley Junction many Saturday afternoons after Thanksgiving through December 21st, passing out prizes to children, Veridian stress balls to parents and candy canes to all. Support local and create memories by making Historic Valley Junction a part of your annual holiday traditions.

With over 160 independent businesses, Historic Valley Junction is the largest business district in Central Iowa. The importance of buying and supporting local cannot be understated. Good local goes away if it is not supported. Business owners are your neighbors, school parents, faith members and community members who create jobs in our community. Please consider shopping local this holiday season.

Historic Valley Junction is six blocks of specialty shops that include art galleries, antique shops, fashion boutiques, salons, service businesses and restaurants. For more information on Valley Junction or event details, visit

Are community papers akin to a circus?

Are community papers akin to a circus?

There’s times when producing a community paper can seem like being in a circus. One moment you are the acrobat balancing your way across a high wire and the next you’re the featured clown.

I learned, while attending seminars in Massachusetts recently that the small tent and arena circus and community papers have much in common.

The revelation hit me during a panel discussion featuring four of the nation’s leading small show circus producers. You probably wouldn’t recognize any of their names, but the panel included former Ringling stars Jeanette Williams and Bello Nock. Both can trace their roots back to family-owned European circuses.

What immediately drew me into the discussion were the opening words of the first speaker: “The circus is not dead,” he shouted passionately to the crowd. He went on to say that public perception was there was little or no interest in the circus now that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, often referred to as “the big one” had closed.

His statement echoed that of the similar uneducated “Newspapers are dead” cry we often see hurled at our industry. A statement that is often followed with examples of huge metro papers closing or cutting back.

Outside pressures and single-minded organizations are making major changes to the circus, the producers agreed. Today’s audience doesn’t seem to want animals in the circus, for example. But Cirque Du Soleil’s many productions with their central storyline and human performers are attracting huge crowds.

The performance program many have changed, the producer’s agreed, but those who love the human desire for live performances and work in the business “have an obligation to see that the circus survives.”

And the same is true of the publishing business. Our audience may have changed, and a generation may even have seemingly turned in other directions for their limited news, but the majority of people living in most local communities still want and embrace their hometown paper. Like those individuals struggling to maintain the circus, we who love the printed paper have an obligation to keep it going.

Making it in the circus world, the producers said, is simply a question of supply and demand. The closing of RB&BB can be seen as an opportunity by some. That two-headed giant, the red and blue units, often exhausted a family’s available entertainment budget for that kind of entertainment. The absence of Ringling in metro communities promises greater audiences for shows playing smaller towns and the rural areas.

In the same way, metro papers reducing their number of publication days or area of distribution opens new opportunities for hometown publishers.

But here are the four key points of the circus producer’s message. It could be a survival treatise for all of us in the publishing business.

  1. “We need to find new options for the circus,” one stated. “If we can’t attract a following with elephants and tigers what should we feature?”
  2. “We have to give consideration to packaging,” said another. “The theme, costuming, lighting, music and spectacle is as important as the content.”
  3. “We must return to what the circus once was,” was a third comment.
  4. “Attending a circus is still about adding quality to life,” shared another.

I sat there with my heart warming as I heard suggestions for the revival of the circus that also apply to our publishing industry.

Like the circus, we need to find new editorial and revenue options. Many local publishers are growing their online and social platforms, but those are not creating the financial return possible from a well-supported newspaper.

To that end, we must revise our content and coverage to provide the information most important and interesting to our subscribers. That means less canned news releases and more original hard news coverage of the local government agencies, sports coverage, school news, business news and well-written pieces on local people and places.

Packaging, too, is a must if local newspapers are going to survive and grow. The number one reason readers give for preferring a printed paper over the internet is the convenient gathering together of material. Subscribers can find the information they want — sports, social news and council news — nicely edited and interestingly presented in the printed paper. More importantly, the pages are designed in a way that draws the reader into the material with many re-entry points that keeps the reader interested. With the internet, it is sometimes necessary to search for the information desired and there is often a question of credibility.

Plus, like the circus, we must find ways to return to what the local paper once was. The community paper was the first social media with tidbits of who had Sunday dinner with friends or relatives and who was visiting in town. The hometown paper has always been the only source of detailed information regarding the local school, sports team, church activities and local government issues. Community papers have to truly dig into all that is “local” if the publishers expect to hold on to their readership.

The same is true about advertising. We, as an industry, have sometimes out priced our value and expected more of our advertisers than we should. In the current multimedia mix and growth of small ad agencies, we must present our story clearly and boldly, offering easy to understand and use promotions at prices smaller advertisers can afford.

But the best statement I heard at the circus seminar was the one about maintaining the “quality of life.”

   The local newspaper is the sounding board of the community sharing balanced ideas from all sides. It is the community cheerleader promoting growth, wise decisions and family values. It is the watchdog, making sure those in authority live up to the standards expected of elected officials. It should have a passion for assuring a “quality of life” for all the people it serves.

What is true about the status of the circus and the community paper is equally true about many small, meaningful enterprises in our city. Many are facing the same threats from the big investors working the internet.

Perhaps some future loss from not being able to obtain goods and services locally will be reversed in the days to come. If so, it will probably be through the new local partnerships and local community marketing ideas.

But, to me, there will always be a need for the community paper. Too often I have seen when a community loses its newspaper everything else eventually seems to disappear.

We, who care about our industry, need to reinvent how the world sees and uses the newspaper. ♦