Fireball' Ignites Paper: Wyoming Entrepreneur, a Classically Trained Musician, Finds the Song of the Printing Press Music to His Ears

Article excerpt

No one can say Dale Bohren is boring. He ran a house-painting business before he invested in a diaper service. A classically trained musician, he also managed a local symphony, and, in his off hours, played the string bass in a blues band.

Now, he's playing a different tune. Meet Dale Bohren, community newspaper publisher.

The 43-year-old entrepreneur became publisher of the weekly Casper (Wyo.) Journal a year ago when he bought its parent, Wyoming Financial Publications.

While he may have some doubters among veteran newsies, Bohren says running a newspaper takes the same skills required at his other jobs: sales ability, people skills, quality, and customer service. He likes to say, half in jest, that everything he knows about business he learned by painting houses.

"There's really three common threads: the product, customers, and customer service," he says. "If you want people to buy the product, you have to show them what the benefit is."

Bohren lets the numbers speak for themselves. When he bought the Journal, it was a gray, six- to eight-page broadsheet with a paid circulation of 940. Today, it sells 2,500 in home delivery, plus about 600 on the street, even with subscription and cover price increases.

Bohren's overhaul touched all departments.

To give the Journal a new look, Bohren shrunk the paper to a tabloid and added splashes of color. He increased the staff to 12 from three. He raised ad rates but started offering discounts based on ad frequency instead of size to encourage small businesses to advertise.

And he marketed the paper, on TV and radio. To get readers to look at every page, he ran random coupons for prize giveaways.

Bohren figured he could do a better job at covering local news than his competition, the statewide Star-Tribune, a Casper-based daily with circulation of 31,000. In the additional pages, he stuffed news about town elections and schools, as well as features about people.

"That's a niche that was wide open,"

Bohren says.

The work hasn't gone unnoticed. Competing in a class with 21 other Wyoming weeklies with circulation of 2,500 or less, the Journal won the Wyoming Press Association's top award in 1998 for a series of editorials. …

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