This month marks 35 years in circulation for this newspaper. Whenever we encounter these sorts of milestones, we can’t help but think about our founding publisher, Dick Lohmeyer, who was also our current leader’s stepfather.
To mark the occasion of the newspaper’s 20th year in business, we featured an interview in a special publication with Lohmeyer, who first got ink on his fingers as a young man in the 1950s with the Ocean City Post. He later started The Resorter magazine and operated a motel before it was destroyed in the ’62 storm. When that storm ruined his hotelier aspirations, he developed the Pier 7 condominium on Edgewater Avenue, started the Maryland Coast Press and then this publication. In all, he spent 50 years in this industry before his May 5, 2005 death. It was an amazing run. The business of reporting the news inevitably causes one to become jaded over time. Lohmeyer was quite the curmudgeon over the last half of his career, but he was an honorable newspaperman who should be credited for being the first to start a free publication here. He figured out a model of giving away the paper in exchange for generating revenue to pay staff and printing costs solely on advertising.
On the occasion of our 35th anniversary, we wanted to share some highlights from an interview Managing Editor Shawn Soper did with Lohmeyer about 12 months before his death in 2004. While there have been some significant shifts in our industry since this interview, many of Lohmeyer’s thoughts remain on point today. You can find the full interview on our website by simply typing “Lohmeyer Q&A” into the search bar.
“The Maryland Coast Press was a real newspaper – a good newspaper with some great writers. But I decided why can’t I bring out a newspaper with free circulation that’s a real newspaper? Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it has to be the history of the hard crab. So I brought out a real hard-core, first-class newspaper with free circulation after selling my interest in the Coast Press. The Dispatch was unheard of at the time. People were suspicious because anything that is free can’t be any good right? But they found out they could pick up a free newspaper and it was the best newspaper down here.
“The role of a newspaper has not changed, it is to just report the news. If ever my kids were picked up in a drug raid, my wife would disagree, but it has to go in the paper. The paper is like a religion to me. I don’t want to put it in the paper, but its news and it has to go in there. It’s a public trust, and if the trust is broken, you’re not worth the paper you’re printed on.
“The one time I strayed from that was when an old friend got picked up for DWI and he called me. Now he didn’t want me to keep the story out of the paper, but he did ask me to leave out his age, and I obliged.
“The newspaper is like a religion. There are things you can do and things you can’t do. A lot of times, we’d just as soon not run this story or that one, but that is religion. I got to do it because I’m a newspaperman. It’s public trust and if you lose that trust, you don’t have anything. I take this business very seriously.
“The Dispatch is what it was, and The Dispatch will be what it has always been. It’s never going to be a frivolous, puffy thing. It’s going to be a predictable, dependable companion that you can turn to every week and there are no shocks or anything. It’s a newspaper, and 20 years from now. It will probably look exactly like it does now. If you want to be a real newspaper, that’s it. The content will not change.”
We remain committed to that approach today and for the foreseeable future.