It was a little more than 20 years ago that I accepted the position as first editor of Boulder Weekly. Sometimes that feels like a long time ago. Other times, like yesterday.
We set up shop on the Pearl Street Mall, and I hired Kathy Kaiser as managing editor almost immediately. We had each worked at the daily papers and knew there were plenty of local stories beyond what they were offering, and the chance to do in-depth features and lots of entertainment coverage that focused exclusively on Boulder was really exciting.
Our next hire was a staff photographer, and it would be our most significant; Joel Dyer is, of course, the graying curmudgeon who serves as editor today, and I’m proud to have had a part in that. About two months later, in August of 1993, we published the first issue with a comprehensive cover story about real estate prices.
The newspaper landscape here was already in flux. When I arrived in Boulder in 1983, there was only the Daily Camera, the Colorado Daily and its weekly adjunct, Audience. I worked first at Audience, then moved to the Daily after Audience folded in 1986. The Onion came to town in the early ’90s, the first publication seeking the same college advertising market as the Daily. When the Weekly moved in, there was already plenty of competition for ad dollars. For awhile, there was the Boulder Courant, another weekly paper.
After I left the Weekly in 1994 to become managing editor of Blues Access, I followed the paper regularly through its ups and downs as it went through a series of editors, all with their own ideas about what an alternative weekly should offer. Joel’s first stint as editor was one of the most interesting, as he and Greg Campbell covered the fringe-right element in the Midwest, which led to Dyer’s fine Harvest of Rage book.
I followed sporadically in the early 2000s, as Pamela White brought the paper back to its roots. After Dyer returned, with Jeff Dodge serving as managing editor, I really began paying attention again, as new stories came to light — inquiries into city council transparency rules, the lengthy series on the history of the city and the tortured Valmont Butte property, and another about city staff attempts to hide contamination known to be beneath the Dushanbe Teahouse from council, which is now costing the city money to rehabilitate.
In December 2012, after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Amendment 64 into law, I decided to cover the first state roll-out of legal cannabis in the world, a topic of particular fascination to me. Several people suggested I contact the Denver Post, but it was an easy decision to go to Joel and Jeff and Stewart with the idea, and I’m glad I did. I’m now a proud contributor to a paper that, quite honestly, I never thought would last this long.
I had coffee with Kathy recently, and we concluded that the Weekly today is much as we had imagined it back when it began. Given the enormous changes the newspaper business has endured over the last 20 years, that’s a hell of an accomplishment.