Last December I asked: "Does Steve Rose to the Star mean Death to the Sun?"
Today that rhetorical question was answered by the Sun‘s parent NPG Newspapers of St. Joseph.
"Everybody has to be out of the office by noon today, former Sun publisher Rose told me around 11 a.m. as I drove to Oklahoma City. "I got the official word on it three days ago."
Rose parents, Stan and Shirley Rose founded the suburban Johnson County weekly more than a half a century ago.
"It’s a very sad moment for me," Rose says. "And it’s sad for my mother who is alive and well – she started the paper with my dad – and she’s pretty emotional about it."
The unfortunate reality being, like any number of print pubs, the Sun was destined to set, Rose says.
"I was running the paper until November of last year," Rose says. "So I was privy to all the financial information. And they wanted to sell it back to me but I didn’t want it. I bought the parts of the company that I did want, so I have that. I just thought it was hopeless."
Part of Rose’s purchase includes The Hills, an upscale magazine run by his wife Carol Rose that is distributed to homes in Mission Hills, Sunset Hill, the Plaza and along the Ward Parkway corridor.
Full disclosure: I have written for The Hills since its inception two years ago.
To be clear, in Rose’s estimation – were he to have marshalled all his experience and expertise – might there have been a way to transform The Sun from money-loser to money-maker?
"No I don’t think so," Rose says. "I really think it was absolutely hopeless. I Haven’t seen the figures in a while, but I would say on a monthly basis it was losing as much as a hundred thousand dollars or more."
A little history: Steve Rose sold The Sun to Texas publisher Rich Connor in the late ’90s for $13 milllion. Around the same time that Pitch publisher Hal Brody unloaded the local alt weekly on Village Voice Media. Both papers have since floundered and changed hands, with NPG buying The Sun it in 2006 for "my understanding (was) $20 million," Rose says.
Now back to my December story about Rose leaving the Sun for the Star…
"Could this be the beginning of the end for the suburban weekly?" I wondered. "The jury’s still out, but certainly combined with everything, a case could be made…"
Uh, case closed.