Press-Register - Twentieth Century

Twentieth Century

In 1905, company president John L. Rapier dies, allowing his son Paul to take his position at Rapier and Company, leading up to the next name change from The Daily Register to The Mobile Register. Five years later, Frederick I. Thompson became the new owner of the Register. The Mobile Item would be the next newspaper to operate under the Mississippi native, who owned a chain of newspapers in Alabama, but it would remain an afternoon paper under the name The Mobile News-Item starting in 1916. Publisher Ralph B. Chandler's afternoon newspaper The Mobile Press began publication on April 15, 1929 inside a former church on Jackson and St. Michael Street in downtown Mobile. Thompson suffered financially during The Great Depression, allowing his competitor to buy out The Mobile Register in 1932. The Mobile Daily Newspapers Incorporated was established to publish the Register as a morning paper, the Press as an afternoon paper, and both papers are combined as the weekend paper The Mobile Press Register. For the Press to continue, the Mobile News-Item had to end publication. The year 1944 had moments good and bad for the Press Register, starting with a fire stopping the presses for a brief period of time, but with help from the Army Air Corps and a New Orleans printing facility, the newspaper continued publishing. On October 1, 1944, The Mobile Press Register began publication at its new facility on 304 Government Street in downtown Mobile after years on St. Louis and Hamilton. "No effort has been spared to make it 100% efficient", as the front page article stated that day. George M. Cox was the first Press Register editor to work in the building.

From 1948 to the end of the 1950s, the Press Register owned radio station WABB. During the 1950s, the Press Register started its own photograph department under chief photographer Billy Lavender, who used the large Speed Graphic press camera. The Honolulu Advertiser received the Press Register's old press machines in 1955, as the Goss Headliner press machine began operation within the Press Register building for the next 47 years. At the time of its arrival, the Goss Headliner was commonly referred to as, "the most modern to be found anywhere in the world". Longtime TV partner WKRG-TV went on the air in 1955. S.I. Newhouse's newspaper group bought out The Mobile Press Register in 1966. Mobile Press founder and Press Register publisher Ralph Chandler would die in 1970, giving William J. Hearin the positions of president and publisher. In December 1978, video display terminals became a fixture in the Press Register's newsroom. On September 12, 1979, Hurricane Frederic made its arrival on the Alabama Gulf Coast, stopping the Press Register from publication for two days. Baldwin County's own paper The Baldwin Press Register began publication in 1988.

In 1992, Howard Bronson, formerly of the Shreveport Times, became publisher of the Mobile Press Register with a mission for the paper to "reinvent itself as one of the most well-written, high profile news sources in the South". That same year, Stanley R. Tiner, former editor of the defunct Shreveport Journal, became the editor and vice president of news. He held that position for seven years until managing editor Michael Marshall succeeded him in 1999. One year after Bronson's arrival, sports editor Ben Nolan retired after more than forty-five years in the sports department. Nolan died in 2001, as did former publisher William Hearin. Three members of the Press Register staff were named finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 after a series of editorials on reforming the Alabama Constitution. On January 31, 1997, the afternoon Mobile Press ended publication, but the name lived on in the corporate title The Mobile Press Register Inc. The name continued to appear in the weekly "Suburban", "Points South", and "Points North" sections of the Register available to certain areas of Mobile County.

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