By Katie Jickling
RANDOLPH, Vt. -— After 43 years at the helm of The Herald of Randolph, editor and publisher M. Dickey Drysdale has sold the paper to Herald photographer Tim Calabro and is stepping down. Drysdale, who turned 70 in November, retires from his post just months after his induction into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame by the New England Newspaper Press Association.
Calabro, 32, of Randolph, replaces Drysdale in the role of editor and owner. Drysdale will continue to write part-time for the paper.
With the transaction, readers should see “very few noticeable changes,” Calabro said. He hopes to expand high school sports coverage and continue to encourage reader engagement, but, he said, “I believe in The Herald because it’s good already.
“When I talk to people on the street, they appreciate what we do,” Calabro said. “We’re not just covering the community, we’re a part of it, and I think that’s important to the people who admire The Herald.”
“A pivotal time”
Assistant editor Sandy Vondrasek Cooch called the transition a “pivotal time in Herald history.” But, she added, Calabro is up to the task. “We at The Herald are delighted that Tim, a son of the White River Valley and a fan of The Herald of Randolph, is stepping up to be the new boss. It’s a big job. To it he is bringing an appreciation for the paper’s traditions, the readiness to take us in some new directions, and the talents to pull it all off.”
Calabro began interning with The Herald photography department as a senior at South Royalton High School and had his first photo printed in the paper the day before his 18th birthday. He attended New York University and transferred to UVM, working at The Herald off and on throughout college before graduating in 2006.
He began working full-time as Herald photographer soon afterwards. He has since garnered numerous photography awards from the Vermont Press Association—five first-place awards spanning the three categories of general news, features, and sports, as well as three second-place, and a third-place recognition.
Calabro, who also designs and lays out much of the paper each week, will be only the fifth publisher since The Herald was founded in 1874. No owner has held the paper for fewer than 20 years.
In the family
A nearly-lifelong Randolph resident—he moved to the area when he was six months old—Drysdale graduated from then-Braintree-Randolph High School in 1962. In 1971, at age 26, he took over The Herald from his father, John Drysdale.
Circulation has climbed nearly 40%, from 4,000 to its current level of 5,500 under Drysdale’s leadership. He has also accrued a plethora of awards. The long list of accolades include three-time winner of the Vermont Press Association’s award for best editorial, VPA recognition for sports and arts coverage, two top awards for general news stories, and seven-time inclusion in the Golden Dozen awards from the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. In 2013, The Herald won third place in the category of “General Excellence,” recognized by the VPA from among the four dozen non-dailies across the state.
The Herald will continue to focus on providing reliable news coverage, but both Drysdale and Calabro emphasized that the continued dedication of The Herald readership will ensure a vibrant paper going forward.
“An exciting time”
Part of the legacy Drysdale leaves behind will continue in the leadership of Calabro, who has a familiarity with The Herald’s role and mission, and values the community it serves.
“It’s going to be an exciting time for the newspaper industry,” Calabro said. “By the fact of our size and geographic location, we are in a nice position to keep going for the future; we live in a small place where it’s still important to get local news.”
Calabro emphasized that he plans no major staffing or coverage changes in the near future. Drysdale will continue to write part-time for The Herald and plans to spend his newfound free time skiing, hiking, and compiling the most popular Herald articles of the last four decades into a book.
“The new technological world will demand changes that Tim’s generation is best able to initiate,” Drysdale said, noting that “the underlying values that have made The Herald so successful—respect for the larger community, the love of a good story, an ability to analyze important trends, all combined with good writing—can make it continue to thrive.”
The transfer process, which began with negotiations late in 2013, was finalized last Tuesday with the official signing at the Northfield Savings Bank.