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Journalistic dinosaurs

Forty years ago this autumn, Jerry Craghead and I got together and created Eagle News Service, because we were both out of work and we didn’t know any better.

eagle news

Jerry Craghead, Kathy Heicher, Bob Silbernagel, Judy Silbernagel

Kathy Heicher (Kathy Lell at the time) was the editor of the Eagle Valley Enterprise weekly newspaper then and she rented us a small office space in the back of the Enterprise, next to the old linotype machine. She also purchased news stories from us, provided tips on other stories and helped us in numerous ways.

My wife, Judy, had a real, paying job at the time, so she basically supported Jerry and I in our journalistic endeavor. We made enough money to cover expenses, but not a lot more.

Eagle News Service functioned as a sort of miniature Associated Press. We gathered news from around Eagle County, sold the articles to a number of weekly papers and one daily, as well as a couple of radio stations. We had several newspapers under contract, but were never able to expand as we hoped.

Our biggest breakthrough came when one of the Vail ski gondolas fell in early 1976. We were all over that story.

I was involved with Eagle News Service for about a year, then left to work for The Glenwood Post in Glenwood Springs, Colo. Craghead kept the business going another couple of years. We worked hard, drank harder and had a great deal of fun. And Craghead was my mentor. Eagle News Service helped launch my journalism career that lasted four decades.

This photo is from a gathering we had in October to celebrate the anniversary of Eagle News Service. Craghead’s plaque lists him as “Founder” of Eagle News Service, Kathy’s refers to her as “Enabler in Chief” and Judy’s correctly notes she was “Chief Financier” for the organization.

The Vail Daily online gave us a shout-out for the anniversary. Here’s the link: