dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog

Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog random header image

News Carriers Will Get a Break

March 25th, 2022 by dk

Home delivery customers of the Register-Guard may have to learn a new trick tomorrow. No printed paper will be delivered on Saturdays, though an electronic version will be available. The e-edition, which is different from the newspaper’s main website, looks like the newspaper, complete with pages to be “turned.”

If I’d had my way, this change could have come 28 years ago. Let me explain.

In 1994, I was on the executive team for a daily newspaper in Oxnard, Calif. We had a healthy rivalry with the Ventura paper next door, but we both were worried about a behemoth’s expansion plans. The Los Angeles Times wanted to claim this northernmost suburb as its own. Competition was fierce. Small advantages mattered.

As circulation director, I managed more workers than anyone else. We had around 250 people reporting for work every morning to get our product from the press to the driveways. Attrition was high for carriers. Training new carriers was constant. Our trainers were also quitting too often.

I drafted a radical proposal. Give everyone a day off each week by printing the Sunday paper on Friday night and delivering it Saturday morning, jumping the competition. Saturday edition economics were built around car dealerships, but they had banded together to boycott us, so we had a freedom that our competitors did not.

I showed with real numbers how we could do more in six days than we’d been doing in seven, with better retention rates for staff and subscribers alike. Our overbuilt and underused press could solicit new commercial printing contracts to fill a 40-hour window that our production schedule would have each weekend.

Readers, I reasoned, deserved two days for their weekend shopping plans. In the end, that’s what killed my proposal. We couldn’t get insert advertisers to change their sale dates or adjust their own staffing to fit our plan. It was the nationwide publisher of those slick coupon flyers that gave us the ultimate hard “no.”

Had I been publisher, I might have just delivered the Sunday paper on Saturday and waited to see if that created any of the expected turmoil. That explains why I would never have been considered for such a position. Status quo prefers to keep its status.

I’ve seen the equation also from the other side. For more than a dozen years, I delivered this newspaper to a hundred households near the Laurelwood Golf Course. For most of those years, I shared the route with a helper so we could give each other days off. I’m sure it extended our longevity significantly.

Keeping workers in any industry has never been more difficult than it is today. Imagine how hard it is to find and keep workers who will show up consistently in the middle of the night for part-time work. It’s always been a thankless job, anonymously done.

If you have resisted reading the paper on your tablet, give it a try tomorrow. I hope thousands of subscribers will appreciate their carriers. They may be enjoying their first day off in years.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

Tags: 1 Comment

Leave A Comment

Are you human? *

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 charlotte Mar 25, 2022 at 9:17 am

    You are great! Thank you for enlightening us (me anyway) on things I’d not considered and now I will be happy to read Sat edition on line instead of complaining