In the rearview mirror: Rodger Nichols

Rodger Nichols

One of my first memories of The Chronicle came shortly after I moved to The Dalles in 1974 and was working at KODL. Al Herriges, Sr., was the ad director at the time and a supplier had offered him some special transfer ink. He made a deal with the station to create an ad featuring a design that could be cut from the paper and ironed onto a t-shirt.

We had a great time lookng through the books of clip art under the layer of blue smoke haze that filled The Chronicle during that time. The experiment was such a success that no one has repeated it since.

I spent 12 and a half years — an eighth of a century — at KODL, originally as a DJ but mostly as an ad salesman.

Then, following a two-and-a-half year experiment on seeing just how broke I could get selling insurance, I started with Eagle Newspapers in December 1988. That was at The Dalles Reminder; it had begun as a weekly free shopper in the early 1950s and when Eagle bought it, they added a weekly newspaper that made its name with its coverage of the Rajneesh phenomenon. Over the course of the next eight years at the Reminder, I was able to perform just about every task in the newspaper. I shot photos, developed them in the darkroom, wrote a column, drew a couple of editorial cartoons, wrote a few feature stories, sold ads, built ads, stuffed inserts, even delivered a few routes.

In 1996, Eagle bought the Chronicle, and we jammed the two staffs together in the old Chronicle building that now houses Oliver Floor Covering at Fourth and Federal.

It was strange because for months we had two publishers, Harold Steininger from the Chronicle and Marilyn Roth from the Reminder. Ultimately Steininger left and Roth took the job which she held ably until her recent retirement.

There was only one ad director, though. I had held that position at the Reminder at the time of the merger, but it was also around the time my first wife died, and I took a position designing pages in the production department to allow Skip Tschanz to continue as ad director for the Chronicle as he was admittedly better at the job and more suited to it.

In 2001, we moved to the former Sawyer’s True Value location, after a year-long renovation of the building at Third and Federal.

One big change — the new building did not include a darkroom. We saved enough on not buying darkroom chemicals to buy new digital cameras instead.

The big, bright new space had room for many more employees, but somehow they were never hired.

I worked in production, sales, as copy editor, and eventually as news editor, working under the highly respected managing editors Dan Spatz and Kathy (Gray) Ursprung.

By the time I left in 2010, I’d written more than half a million words on the Word On the Street business column that I’d started with the Reminder back in 1991.

As reporter and news editor, I had a chance to write breaking news, feature stories and editorials.

Over the years I was lucky enough to win first place in the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association five times — for best editorials (twice) best feature writing, best page design and best writing.

The Chronicle gave me fantastic opportunities. I was able to interview celebrities like B.B. King and Leo Kottke, to meet country superstar Emmylou Harris and to cover the first three years of the Maryhill concerts and take photos — everyone from Los Lobos to Buddy Guy to Willie Nelson. What wonderful memories. I learned a great deal from Dan and Kathy, and treasure their friendships, as well as that of Marilyn Roth.

These days, the only people who remain from the merger of The Reminder and The Chronicle are Shirley Ringlbauer (Chronicle) at the front desk and Office Manager CeCe Fix (Reminder) and Neita Cecil (Chronicle.)

We wish The Chronicle good fortune on the upcoming change.

— Rodger Nichols

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