Triplicate publisher to retire

Written by Richard Wiens, The Triplicate July 04, 2013 11:35 am

Michele Postal finishes at newspaper on Aug. 2

Her grandchildren’s gain is our loss.

Michele Postal, publisher of the Del Norte Triplicate since 2006, announced Tuesday that she will retire Aug. 2, with plans to move to Oregon’s Willamette Valley and closer to her two granddaughters.

As publisher, she oversees all aspects of the newspaper’s operation — and knows them in detail. She is as comfortable talking about the printing plant in Smith River as she is the editorial, circulation and financial departments in Crescent City. But her roots were in advertising and marketing.

She came to the coast in 2001 and immediately filled two jobs — replacing the departing advertising directors at the Triplicate and the Curry Coastal Pilot in Brookings. She ran both departments until 2006, when she was named publisher of the Triplicate.

She’s held the top spot during a challenging time for the entire newspaper industry, but has kept the Triplicate profitable while striving to upgrade the product and establish a network of community connections.

“Michele has greatly improved every facet of the newspaper’s operation and strengthened the stature of the Triplicate in the community,” said Gordon Black, president of Western Communications, which owns the paper. “She will be sorely missed.”

You don’t have to be on the board of the Wild Rivers Community Foundation or in the  Rotary Club of Crescent City to encounter Postal, although she’s a member of both. You’re as likely to see her at the Farmers Market. She and her husband, Rick Postal, whom she met in Grants Pass fifteen years ago, show up frequently at community events big and small, often shooting photos for the publisher’s beloved Neighbors section.

“I initally wanted to be a publisher because I thought I had the skills and experience to run a perfect newspaper, one that never made mistakes and provided extraordinary customer service, “ Postal said. “But it didn’t take me long to realize that’s not all the publisher of a local newspaper should do.

“What I’ve learned over the years is that the role of publisher must be more than managing the business. It’s about establishing a relationship between the newspaper and the community it serves. I have tried over the last seven years to reach out beyond the walls of the building on 3rd and H and our production facility in Smith River and learn about the people who live and work here, the children who go to school here, the people who read our paper so the Triplicate can be relevant and helpful to them.”

Postal has been working in newspapers for most of the last 39 years, ever since she saw a posting on a bulletin board for a job selling classified ads by phone. She was a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at the time.

Before that she grew up on a chicken ranch in Lomita, Calif., the daughter of Yugoslav parents. Selling eggs, she started learning about customer service at age 5.

She also learned about leadership, serving as senior class president of her high school. Just before graduation in 1968, she was a volunteer for the Robert Kennedy presidential campaign. She was in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles the night he was assassinated while celebrating his victory in the California Primary.

Postal got her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of San Francisco in 1972. She then travelled abroad, moved to the islands, and responded to that fateful job posting. After five years at the Honolulu dailies, she left the newspaper industry briefly to work for General Telephone Yellow Pages – “a career move I soon regretted. I missed the newspaper business, the deadlines, the creativity, the buzz.”

She wouldn’t miss it for long. Married with twin sons, she moved back to the mainland, had another son, and then went to work for the Grants Pass Daily Courier selling ads in 1983. She was promoted to classified manager in 1986, advertising director in 1990, and marketing director in 1998. She was named Advertising Executive of the Year by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association in 2000.

By then she was divorced. When her youngest son went off to college, she started looking toward the coast and landed the dual job at the Triplicate and the Pilot.

“For five years I commuted between the two offices, managing the advertising departments of both papers and creating marketing promotions and events.”

She’s never completely left those roles behind, even after becoming Triplicate publisher. She’s a facilitator and coordinator – the person to see about making community connections. She created the newspaper’s Green Day events and helped organize last year’s local Food Day activities.

She led the effort to place a memorial bench in Crescent City Harbor honoring Dustin Weber, who died in the 2011 tsunami. She just completed her efforts to have mammoth solar panels erected at the Triplicate’s printing plant.

In addition to all that, she’s developed a loyal following among readers of her From the Publisher’s Desk column on the Neighbors page.

Her writings about personal experiences with family and friends strike a chord with many readers, and she’s never happier than when they write or call to tell her so.

Now, she’s signing off, ready to immerse herself more deeply in those personal experiences.

“Rick and I are excited about the opportunity to spend more time together and I can’t wait to read all the books that are piled up on my nightstand. We’ll do more walking and pursue a healthier lifestyle. We want to rediscover the simple things in life, together.”