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Wild West's Weekly Alibi

By US newspaperman TV Hagenah, who shares our interest in the many odd names given to newspapers.

Looking through my copy of New Mexico Newspaper Directory, I found that basically New Mexico has only one even mildly interestingly named newspaper that I consider a real newspaper: the Deming Headlight. There was a lot of mining in that area and so they took their name from that piece of mining equipment.

There is another paper that may qualify. It's pretty new and is more of an entertainment publication rather than a real newspaper. It's called The Weekly Alibi. Then there's a City of Truth and Consequences Herald.

For the fun of it I broke out a copy of an old Colorado Newspaper Directory and found these: Johnstown Breeze, Frederick Farmer & Miner (covering all the bases with that one; Frederick has become something of a bedroom community for Denver. I wonder if they are going to change the name to Frederick Farmer, Miner and Businessperson?), Westminster Window (Westminster used to be a suburb of Denver, and has since been gobbled up by the city).

I checked with the Window and it is one of those chain newspapers that exist on the edges of cities, publishing the same news in two or three papers with the front page slightly different in each paper.

Nederland Mountain-Ear. Nederland had double digit population until hippies flocked there in the 1960s. These days the newspaper is registering in the thousands if not tens of thousands.

Perhaps my favourite newspaper name (at least today) in Colorado, just because it is so unnewspaper-like, is The Voice in Central Weld County. That's the name, not The Voice, or the Weld County Voice or even the Central Weld County Voice.

As I remember, it came about in the late 1970s or early 1980s because the Greeley Tribune (the nearest paper at that time) never had any Kersey news in it. Kersey has since gained fame as the home of the world's largest cattle feedlot. There are said to be a thousand cattle for every human resident. The smell in that town is deadly.

I have wondered, but never took the effort to check, if some time in the 1800s (when every wide spot in the road had two or three newspapers) Tribune, Kansas ever had a paper called the Tribune. I always thought it would be so neat to work at the Tribune Tribune.

Every time you identified yourself, people would think you had a speech impediment.

"Hagenah, the Tribune Tribune and I would like to ask you...."

"Young man that's a bad stutter you have. How long have you had it?"

"No ma'm, that's the name of the paper."

"What is, young man?"

"Tribune Tribune"

"You see, there you go again..."

I really believe that the reason I never checked was I was afraid that if it hadn't had a newspaper of that name, I would be heartbroken -- ah, the problems of a hopeless romantic.

Quite seriously, I had very similar problems when I worked for the Englewood Newspaper. Every time I identified myself someone would ask, "which newspaper?" and I would have to say, "the Englewood Newspaper," and I would go about explaining that was indeed the name of the paper and we weren't the Sentinel, Post or News (our competitors at the time) and give a background on how the name came to be and why (it turns out that the original plan was to give it a more normal name like Tribune, Times or Gazette, but someone owned the rights to that name). People would always end up just shaking their heads saying, "Pretty stupid name for a newspaper."

I generally agreed.

I heard that the publisher changed the name of the paper not long after I left to the Reporter. In my memory no doubt. It was changed again when it was bought by a chain. I am not even certain it exists any longer. I drove by the old offices a while back, and they are now one of those places that cashes checks for a high fee. At least they are a real business - not something shady like a newspaper.

We first contacted TV Hagenah three years ago, when he was editor of the Fowler Tribunein Colorado. We asked him if TV was his real name. He replied: "My name is indeed TV Hagenah. I worked my way through high school and university as a radio disc jockey and it was during the 'crazy '60s' so every DJ had to have a crazy name, and since T and V were my initials, the station manager at my first station came up with the idea of 'TV on the Radio.'

"The name has stuck. No matter where I went someone seemed to know 'TV'. I had my name legally changed about 25 years ago. It has come in handy when trying to get jobs in newspapers too. If it comes down to me and another fellow going for the job, I have been told that bosses have said, 'What the hell, at least it will look good as a byline.'

"I had been working on big city dailies when I decided that it would be fun and less stressful to buy a percentage of a small weekly and edit it. I figured it would be something of a working retirement.

"Boy was I wrong. It's the hardest I have ever worked in my life. I not only edit and layout the paper but generally write most of the stories and take all the photos. And the stress....Don't even ask about the stress.

"Don't get me wrong. I love it, but I sleep at the office far too often and I really wonder what my house looks like in the daylight. But I can tell you about judging cattle, why the sewer plant is backing up, who fathered Miss X's child and... you get the idea."

New Mexico

Story first posted February 2005

Copyright 2005

Eric Shackle

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