By Gail Jokerst
Photo By Jonathan Rimmel
If you typically read the Idaho Senior Independent (ISI) from cover to cover, you may have noticed that the logo on the front page has changed, along with the masthead publication information listed inside. Those changes reflect not just an updated logo, but new ownership and a new era for the newspaper.
After 13 years of publishing and editing Idaho Senior Independent, the paper’s founder, Jack Love, has retired. This past spring, he sold Idaho Senior Independent along with its sister publication, Montana Senior News, to Robert and Janet Hunt of Kalispell.
“It’s time for another stage in my life,” says Jack, who is looking forward to all the ways he can enjoy and educate himself with his newly acquired free time. He and his wife, Joan, are already spending longer days outdoors, hiking, bicycling and canoeing the Missouri. They are traveling the nation more to see their kids and grandkids. Additionally, Jack plans to do some volunteering and take online classes, “to become more tech-savvy.”
A U.S. Navy veteran with degrees in law and English, he admits he never intended to start a newspaper. But as Jack discovered, he had a vision for how to best serve a mature readership and was well suited to carrying out the task. Twenty years after Jack began publishing the Montana Senior News, he introduced the Idaho Senior Independent.
“I always wanted to do an Idaho paper, because I had a connection with the state,” says Jack, who resides in Great Falls, MT. “I thought about it a long time.” Given that he was born in Nampa and that his mom was from Pocatello, Jack’s Idaho roots unsurprisingly have kept him tethered to his birth state. After moving to Oregon, he visited his granny in Nampa every summer throughout his childhood. Without doubt, he still regards her as one of the most influential people in his life.
“She was this great character, feisty as all get-out,” recounts Jack. “Her husband was the state engineer for Idaho, so they had a broad social network. People were always coming to the house to visit, and she and they always had such interesting stories to tell.”
Captivated by the breadth of the experience of the people who stopped by, Jack learned at a young age how the power of story-telling can change lives. That insight created a strong foundation for both Montana Senior News and Idaho Senior Indepdendent.
“The purpose of both newspapers has always been to provide interesting and entertaining information for an active, 50-plus-aged audience,” notes Jack. “From the beginning, the papers were about profiles of people who were worthy of the ink. I also felt it was important to cover a broad range of topics, including travel, finance and recreation. You need a bit of something for everybody.”
The Hunts plan to carry on the Idaho Senior Independent legacy with a mission to “educate, entertain and empower readers.” As Bob says, “Nothing is stopping. It will just be more enhanced, like a fresh coat of paint. We will still focus on stories of interest to mature readers. But we are also excited about empowering this audience with information they need, and that gives advertisers a large benefit to reach this audience in print and online.”
One enhancement readers can expect to see in the future is a more developed Idaho Senior Independent website with a library of original content. Expanding the service side of the newspaper is a prime goal. In particular, the Hunts want to include articles enabling readers to confidently navigate topics such as the sometimes dizzying world of smartphone apps and social media.
“We want to embrace those subjects in a non-threatening way, so readers can adapt to the new technology through life. It’s exciting to have a platform to help people,” says Bob, who can legitimately claim, “Newspapers are in my blood.”
Aside from a brief stint as a real estate agent, Bob’s entire career has been based in the newspaper industry. Starting when he was a kid in Illinois delivering newspapers, it has culminated in taking over the helm of these two Northwest publications.
“I have worked as a janitor, reporter and photographer in the press room, in circulation and in advertising. I have a real belief in this business,” says Bob, whose father rose up the ranks to become president of Chicago Tribune.
An accomplished seamstress and gardener, Janet describes herself as, “more of a numbers person.” She handles the accounting for the financial side of the enterprise, along with whatever else requires immediate attention.
“We have a team approach to everything and take over from one another when necessary,” explains Janet. During the couple’s 25-year marriage, they hand-built their home together in a place where they can see starry nights. Not surprisingly, Janet is as actively engaged behind the scenes as Bob is with the more visible editorial, sales and distribution end of things. And in true family fashion, even their daughter Ruth is involved with the new venture, despite her living in the East.
“She’ll take over our social media. She can do that from a distance,” says Janet, who regards being a mom as one of her greatest accomplishments.
For his part, Bob isn’t ready just yet to name his greatest accomplishment.
“I don’t think it’s ever over. I’m always striving to do better and move forward,” he says. “However, we are both proud of this benchmark with Montana Senior News and Idaho Senior Independent. For us, these newspapers are about the first amendment—freedom of speech and freedom of the press. That is a big responsibility, and we take it very seriously.” ISI
For more info about author Gail Jokerst, visit www.gailjokerst.com