Moore set to retire after long stint as publisher
Bob Moore has a simple philosophy when it comes to running a business.
“I’ve always tried to hire good people, give them what they need to do the job and then get out of their way and let them do what I hired them to do,” Moore said.
After more than four decades in the newspaper business — including 21 years as publisher for Carroll County Newspapers — Moore, 66, is making a big move in that direction at the end of the week, officially retiring at the close of business Friday, Oct. 1.
“Bob is just the best boss I’ve ever had,” said managing editor Scott Loftis. “It’s been a pleasure working with him for the past seven years and I’m going to miss seeing him every day. But I wish him a long and happy retirement.”
Business manager Melody Strodtman, who’s worked with Moore since 1998, said his flexibility when it comes to his management style has been his best feature.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with him because of his flexibility,” Strodtman said, “which allowed me to do the things necessary to take care of my ailing, elderly parents.”
Moore, possessed of a ready smile, an easy charm and a mischievous wit that leaves most people he meets unsure if he’s about to tell a funny story or try to sell them a toothbrush, didn’t set out to be a salesman, or even a newspaperman of any kind. He just wanted off the farm.
“I grew up at Number Nine, Arkansas, north and east of Blytheville, one mile from the Missouri state line where the Bootheel comes down, and three miles from the Mississippi River,” Moore said. “I grew up on what was kind of like an old plantation, where Mr. Langston owned about 4,500 acres. There was a cotton gin, an alfalfa mill and soybean elevators.”
In 1978, as a recent graduate of Arkansas State University, Moore was looking for a job when he got a phone call from his best friend, offering him a position selling newspaper ads for the Eureka Springs Times-Echo and the Berryville Star-Progess.
“I asked him, ‘Where the hell is Berryville?’ ” Moore said, adding that he actually already knew, thanks to a college acquaintance. “I told him, ‘Sure. I’ve never done that before.’ That’s how I got into the business.”
That first run in Berryville gave Moore the opportunity to hone his craft as a salesman and also the chance to start a family.
“I remember my first day, I was nervous,” Moore said. “I was terrified because I didn’t really know what I was doing and didn’t have much training. They handed me a rate card and a couple of papers and said, go sell some ads. And I parked on the square and I started going around the square.”
He continued doing that each week, building a relationship of trust and service with his customers.
“By going around and meeting all the business people, I got to know a lot of people,” Moore said. “There was this really cute girl that worked at First National Bank at that time. I didn’t really know who she was, but I’d go in and see Doug Pendleton every week for an ad for the bank, and I’d wink at this girl over in the corner.”
Moore said he wasn’t nearly as subtle as he thought, since it wasn’t long before another woman at the bank set him up on a date with that young woman.
“We went on a date to Harrison and had pizza and went to a movie,” Moore said, admitting he can’t recall what movie they saw, but saying it got them off to a good start.
“We dated for like six months or so and then decided to get married,” Moore said. Forty years later, he and Linda have three children and a grandson and she still works at First National, where she’s the vice president of loan operations.
“We have an agreement,” Linda said. “I stay out of the newspaper office and he stays out of the bank.”
Two weeks after buying his first house in Green Forest, Bob and Linda moved to Yellville — “That’s where we honeymooned,” Moore said — where Moore was tasked with running the Mountain-Echo and began expanding his skill set.
“I cut my teeth here in advertising and then really got more into management over there,” Moore said.
In 1994, Moore made another move, when he was hired by Little Rock-based WEHCO Media as the general manager for the Camden News.
“The paper was bought and sold a couple of times in that time period, and there was a company out of California that bought the paper,” Moore said. “And when they bought it, they wanted me and my family to move to the San Joaquin Valley in California.”
Unimpressed with California, Moore took the job in Camden, where he spent three years before accepting a promotion from WEHCO that saw him managing advertising sales at newspapers in Texarkana, Hot Springs, Camden, El Dorado and Magnolia.
“My objective was to sell more advertising and work with our ad managers to put together some things that I thought could be beneficial to any and all of those newspapers,” Moore said.
One project Moore said he was proudest of was the creation of the South Arkansas Sunday News, a combined Sunday edition of the Camden, El Dorado and Magnolia newspapers that was published until 2014.
“That was called the ‘Golden Triangle’,” Moore said. “I thought the first thing we could do was put together a regional Sunday newspaper, so I started the planning and put all of that together, working with the data processing people, came up with a rate card and how we were going to distribute it, and we launched that thing. It was enormous. It became popular very fast.”
Moore followed his time at WEHCO with a stint as publisher of the Searcy Daily Citizen before returning to Berryville in 2001 as publisher for Carroll County Newspapers. The company publishes the Carroll County News, the Lovely County Citizen and the Ozark Mountain Trader along with several specialty publications.
During his four-decade career, Moore said he worked with a number of people who helped teach him many of the ins and outs of the business, but he also did the same for a many employees and co-workers.
“It’s been a great profession for me,” Moore said. “The thing that I’ve enjoyed is that I’ve had some really good people. As you’ve heard me say, I try to hire good people and get out of their way, and I’ve been very fortunate.”
Moore, who was presented with the Arkansas Press Association’s Distinguished Service Award during this year’s annual convention, is a former APA president and has served two different terms on the organization’s board of directors.
In his award package, Moore was described as having “a distinguished career of leadership by example to the entire Arkansas newspaper industry.”
“That was a really nice honor,” Moore said. “I was very happy to receive that.”
As for the future, Moore, an avid golfer, and his wife are building a house in Bella Vista and, aside from the occasional golf trips, Moore said he wants to spend time with his family and maybe take a tour of as many national parks as he can.
“Linda will retire one of these days,” he said, “then maybe we can talk about that.”