Pounds: 10 yearsWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
This week marks a proud milestone for Toledo Free Press. Ten years ago, on March 16, 2005, we published our first issue.
As I look back over the 10 years we have been in business, I marvel at all that has occurred in that time. The vision I had for a community-focused weekly newspaper was matched when I found Editor in Chief Michael S. Miller up in Adrian, Michigan. He was what I called “lightning in a bottle.”
Michael agreed to come to Toledo to work on a “glass half-full approach” to this city. He was very adamant I stay out of his way. I agreed and let him do his thing while I ran the rest of the business. That arrangement never changed.
The five straight “Best Weekly Newspaper in Ohio” designations from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists say all you need to know about what talent Michael brought to the table. Now Sarah Ottney, who was mentored by Michael for four years, sits in that seat and has already shown similar skills.
I’ve watched tremendous writers come through our doors, including Brandi Barhite, who Michael often called one of the best journalists and feature writers he’s ever known; Caitlin McGlade, who never backed down from a challenge and is now an investigative reporter with The Arizona Republic; Jeremy Baumhower (who can forget Myles Eckert?); and Matt Zapotosky, who’s now covering federal courts for The Washington Post. Duane Ramsey has been writing business and economic development stories for most of those 10 years and Jeff McGinnis brought his unique pop culture voice to us five years ago.
For our first two years, we were based out of the Toledo Edison building Downtown. Jim Murray, then-president of Ohio Edison, gave us the space to start the business.
It has been wonderful to watch the growth of Downtown’s Warehouse District from our front-row seat on Monroe Street, where our offices now stand. When Blarney Irish Pub owner Ed Beczynski and I bought this building from Dave Ball (another visionary) in 2006, we had no idea what would happen around us. From the Huntington Center, Table Forty4 and PizzaPapalis sprouting up nearby to M Osteria recently opening, Black Cloister Brewing Co. coming this month and Veritas Cork & Craft right around the corner — what a hot corner we’re on where virtually nothing stood before we moved in!
One thing TFP has done from the beginning is support local nonprofits (at least the ones that are not bullied into staying away from us). The latest effort, Dine 419, partnered with local restaurants to raise money for Veterans Matter to house homeless veterans (you will never find a more passionate advocate then its founder Ken Leslie).
TFP has been a proud media sponsor of Holiday with Heart Charity Gayla since 2010 and Toledo Pride (started in 2010 by the just-as-passionate Lexi Staples) since 2011. As its media sponsor for the first four of its five years, we helped Leadership Toledo’s Restaurant Week Toledo grow into the immensely popular fundraiser it is today.
Then there were the six charity CDs we produced for Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana, American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio and Project iAm — Michael’s babies — which raised more than $70,000.
Lucas County Children Services’ (LCCS) Wear Blue Day, which asks people to take a stand against child abuse, is one of the most touching nonprofits we have supported in our years. Same with the organization’s holiday gift drive. LCCS is a wonderful organization that has taken some unfair hits from other media in town; it does not deserve that.
Food for Thought’s Jam City and Food Fight 419 were also causes we got behind. Smoke on the Water, benefiting the Red Cross, was always a good time.
In January 2007, we shifted publication from Wednesday to Sunday. On our fifth birthday, we launched Toledo Free Press Star, a standalone Wednesday publication covering arts and entertainment, which, in 2013, was absorbed back into the Sunday TFP.
Throughout it all, loyal advertisers like ProMedica (from issue No. 1), Monroe Dodge (Ralph Mahalik Jr. has also been with us from the beginning), Fifth Third Bank, TARTA, Mercy, Hollywood Casino Toledo, Owens Community College, Estate Jewelers, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, the Town Center at Levis Commons and Fat Fish Blue have been our lifeblood. Without advertisers who had guts like these companies (and so many more) we would have never made it 10 years.
We have taken our share of punches to the gut as well. Despite an unbelievable lawsuit from a newspaper that wants to step on us and disloyal employees stealing from us, we have found a way to fight through. The loyal and hardworking employees of the paper are the reason we have lasted this long. James A. Molnar is one of the most talented artists I have had the pleasure to know. Chick Reid, who has been working for me for years (first at The Blade and now here), is one of the best-known sales people in town and just a great guy. My now longest-tenured employees, Renee Bergmooser and Pam Burson, are loyal to the bone and some of my best friends.
Many of our columnists have been with us for years. Our cartoons and crossword puzzles are created locally too.
Last but not least are you, our readers. Thanks for sticking with us and thanks for reading.
It’s the people who have made us and who are the key to our success. This is the reason we are still the largest Sunday paper in Lucas County and in my opinion the best.
Thank you, Toledo!
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com.