Journalism & Kent

Oh, to have the time to write. I whine and moan about never having the time I would like to write for my Blog and Substack, even if no one reads them. I do have things to say and opinions to express rattling around in my head all the time.

I was thinking….. from the time I was born until I was 44 years old when my family sold the Kokomo Tribune, all I remember was newspapers. My father at age 24 was the CEO of the Tribune when I was born. His grandfather Kautz was CEO and owner beginning in 1897 until he died in 1938 when my father took over as a family Trust of Kautz’s daughters technically controlled ownership and operations. I remember I lived, breathed, and almost worshiped journalism and newspaper production and the peoples “right to know”. My first job was in the Circulation department where I mapped motor routes and solicited subscriptions. That was an experience when I approached Amish/Mennonite families out in Howard County. The women at home were always polite, but they deferred to their husbands who were working out on the farm somewhere.

But even before that I was around the Tribune a lot. I still have a photo of me at the corner of the Tribune building selling papers on VE day at the end of WWII in Europe. And I have a photo of me at a typewriter in the Tribune newsroom writing something when I was probably around 10-12 years old. Then when at Kokomo High School, I became the radio editor for the the student newspaper, the Red and Blue. We had a weekly program with three of us: sports, news, and social. And who knew at the time that my father was one of the owners of the WIOU radio station. Wonder if that had some influence?

Finally, off to Purdue. My father wanted me to study engineering of some kind. He believe the mental discipline and thinking processes taught were the best in engineering verses any other studies. I started in Electrical Engineering and finished three years in that discipline, but due to circumstances involving a fraternity pledge which did not go well, I switched to Industrial Management. I was in the very first class of that offering at Purdue. As it turned out, it was the best combination of engineering and management one could imagine. Purdue became famous for this. This really saved me from academic probation. I excelled in all classes. I really loved the studies in management, engineering, and finance.

My life did go into chaos though with an unplanned pregnancy and an early marriage when I was still 19 years old. I was a junior at Purdue at the time. I will save that story for later.

After graduating from Purdue with a BS Industrial Management, I became a full time Kokomo Tribune employee. This, as it turned out, was a time at the cusp of an enormous change in the way newspapers were produced. The old way was with hot metal type and letter presses. The huge change that occurred was to photo composition and offset presses and the use of computers in typesetting. That is easy to say, but it took years — nearly a decade — to make the changes. The Kokomo Tribune became a world leader in medium sized newspapers in technology. We had visitors from all over the world to see how we did things. With General Motors Delco engineers, we created one of the very first computers for typesetting. I wrote all of the software for it as well as a Fortran comprehensive package for circulation accounting and bundling in the mail room. We had a tremendous “family” of about 150 folks at the paper that worked together to get it all done.

At the same time, my father pursued newspaper industry leadership interests. He eventually became the President of the Inland Daily Press Association and later the American Newspaper Publishers Association, the industry association of most of the daily newspaper in the United States.

This is enough for now…. Chapter One in the life of one Kent Blacklidge and journalism. More later…….