October 22, 2013
It’s been a long and winding road that has led us to this — the Inlander’s 20th birthday. It all started growing up in Argentina at the Academia Nacional de Polo, where my brother Jer and I always dreamed of playing professional polo and starting a newspaper in Spokane. (Here we are in between chukkas at a recent match — I’m the good-looking one.) People ask, “How do you have the time to run the Inlander and play so much polo — not to mention all the modeling?” Good question!
OK, I kind of made that last part up. But I did always like that picture of the Argentinians who rode for Team Inlander at the Polo Classic a few years ago. What a life!
This snapshot’s more like a good place to start — Jer and I at Hoopfest in 1997. We even won the Media Division that year. The truth is, we grew up here and came back after college to be a part of all that Spokane has to offer. Hoopfest, marmots, potholes — we love all of it. And since 1993, we’ve been documenting it for you in the Inlander every week.
This is my school report on starting the Inlander. Seriously! This all started as a project at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Usually school projects get packed away in some box stuffed in the garage, but not this one.
After Missouri and a job at the Seattle Weekly, I moved to Boston where my wife Anne was in grad school. In our tiny apartment a block off Commonwealth Avenue, with Gracie the cat taking up space, I worked on this little Macintosh SE to firm up plans for the Inlander. We even had the Spokesman-Review mailed to Boston every day so I could keep up on news stories happening back home.
In the fall of 1993, our brain trust met around our kitchen table to plan the launch. Here I am with our first arts editor, Andy Strickman (back to the camera), Jer and Jim Cortner, a special adviser to the Inlander then and now. It seemed like the right thing to do, you know, to meet and stuff, but there was no way to plan for what was to come.
We took office space at the Georgetown Building just behind KXLY and started publishing a newspaper. And we’ve literally been going ever since — 1,040 weekly issues since that first one on Oct. 20, 1993. Some have compared it to a merry-go-round that never ends and that you can’t get off of. In this snapshot, I am interviewing the governor. Wait, maybe I’m ordering lunch. Can’t quite remember.
Here’s Jer in his rig. In those early days, we had a lot of racks to take out to local businesses and bundles of papers to find the places where the readers were. Dang he made it look good, too! Easy to see how his wife Tamara fell for this dashing young newspaperman.
Money was tight, so our parents bought us a house to use as an office in West Central, just north of the Maple Street Bridge. As an office, it was a little odd — but who were we to complain? In time, I came to love the bathroom that was right there next to my desk — complete with a bright red toilet.
Eventually we outgrew the West Central house and moved into the Riverwalk Complex — a place I recognized as the old divey Lucky Penny Tavern. (Odd how life can go full circle on you like that.) Now the complex is home to the No-Li Brewpub. When we moved in, my office even had a hot tub in it — but check out that exposed brick!
This is my wife Anne in 1997, splitting time between her job as a physical therapist (which paid) and working for the Inlander (which did not). She was putting on a happy face, as those years were kind of like treading water for the Inlander. Progress… was… slow… But we were learning how to be a newspaper.
Here are two of our favorite Inlander family members. That’s Dee Ann Cook sitting down; she’s our business manager and our longest tenured employee today. And Jennifer Ranney was our very first hire way back in 1993. Our employees — past and present — are the key to everything we’ve done. And our managers are helping us take the next step as the next 20 years loom, so a shout-out is in order to Editor Jacob Fries, Advertising Sales Manager Kristi Gotzian, Business Manager Dee Ann Cook, Production Manager Wayne Hunt and Director of Marketing Kristina Elverum. You guys make us look good!
In late 2001, we moved into the Civic Building on beautiful, historic Riverside Avenue. Here, on the occasion of our 10th anniversary, are Jer and I with our mom, Jeanne, in the lobby. Not only did our mom write checks into the business to allow us to pay staff when sales were few and far between, but she actually got out there and sold, too. You could say the Inlander was built on all those $40 ads she sold in the early days. (Of course, she usually walked out of her clients’ shops with $50 in merchandise, but still.)
When we started working with Bloomsday in 2005 to publish their race results, we cheered on the runners from our front porch — even cranked up the tunes to pump them up. Here are our boys, Alex, Carson and Jay. They seem to be loving banner duty (not!), but this photo just makes me smile.
Here we are last winter — me, Anne, Jer and Tamara — standing in what would become our new lobby in Kendall Yards. Business is hard — the hardest thing you’ll ever do — so you need every advantage you can find. We’ve found out that it helps when you have family to rely on. Jer and I learned how to work hard every summer growing up as we worked at Grandpa Joe’s warehouse, Peirone Produce. We also learned how to be leaders from our dad, Ted Sr., who picked up organization from the Navy — and corny jokes from the Internet. Anne and Tamara, lucky for us, both brought media backgrounds to the mix and continue to contribute as editors of our InHealth and Annual Manual publications. And most of all, Jer and I have relied on each other all these years — brothers can be blunt, have it out and still go to Thanksgiving together. Sometimes that’s what it took to keep going. But to pull it all together, it had to be a mission — we had to care. And Spokane and the Inland Northwest brought that out in us — we want the best for this place we love. Yes, it’s been hard, but it’s been worth every minute. Now I’ve got a polo match to play…