Group will buy paper in Stuttgart

Leader’s owner closed it Sept. 6

FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, photo, The Vindicator newspaper rolls off the presses in Youngstown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

A group that owns several Arkansas radio stations said Monday that it has bought the Stuttgart Daily Leader, which was closed Sept. 6 by GateHouse Media.

Arkansas County Broadcasters Inc., which operates under the East Arkansas Broadcasters (EAB) umbrella, didn't disclose financial terms of the deal for the newspaper, which was founded in 1885.

It's the second GateHouse newspaper saved in the past two weeks by local investors.

The Helena-West Helena World also was closed Sept. 6, but its purchase was announced the day before by a local businessman and an instructor at Phillips Community College.

Both newspapers, under GateHouse, had been published twice a week for the past several years.

The Arkansas Press Association worked closely with the prospective buyers of both newspapers in the countdown to, and following, the Sept. 6 shutdown dates.

The World has switched to weekly publication, with the first issues arriving Wednesday in subscribers' mailboxes, Andrew Bagley, one of the new owners, said Monday. The paper had about 650 subscribers under GateHouse. Bagley said this week's newspaper will have a press run of 1,000 copies.

"The response has been good, we're getting new subscribers every day," said Bagley, the Phillips Community College instructor.

This week's 12-page edition will have front-page stories on the purchase of the newspaper, the arrest of three students on gun charges, and how the Helena-West Helena School Board is dealing with a school campus soon to be vacated.

Founded in 1871, the World is being printed in Monticello at the Advance Monticellonian.

In a news release distributed Monday afternoon, Scott Siler, chief operating officer of Arkansas County Broadcasters, said the Daily Leader "will be a great outlet to help us continue to provide great local news and information to the area."

Arkansas County Broadcasters owns six south central Arkansas radio stations, including KWAK-AM, Stuttgart's first.

"We will be making plans over the next several weeks to bring the paper back in some fashion as soon as possible," Siler said in the news release. The Daily Leader also had about 650 subscribers.

Siler couldn't be reached for comment.

Based in Jonesboro, East Arkansas Broadcasters is family owned and is the state's largest radio group, according to its news release. It said it operates 51 radio signals across the state as well as the EAB Ag Network and EAB Sports Network, the official radio partner for Arkansas Tech University in Russellville and Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

In announcing its plans to close the Stuttgart and Helena-West Helena newspapers, GateHouse also said it will close its printing press at the Pine Bluff Commercial at the end of this month. That press had been used to also print the World and the Daily Leader.

Based in suburban Rochester, N.Y., GateHouse still owns the Pine Bluff Commercial, the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith and a few weekly newspapers in Arkansas. If its announced purchase of the Gannett Co. is approved by regulators, GateHouse also will take control of the Baxter Bulletin in Mountain Home. By number of titles, GateHouse is the nation's largest newspaper chain.

Business on 09/17/2019