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CONTINUED ON PAGE 14 »
President & CEO, Wick Communications
333 West Wilcox Drive, Suite 302
Sierra Vista, Arizona 85635
Becky Bjork, Sierra Vista Herald Advertising Director and Tom Yunt,
President & CEO, Wick Communications.
You joined Wick Communications this past fall and I’d
like to dig in to some of your work there but before we get
into this can you give us a glimpse into your career path leading
up to your role as Wick’s CEO?
I started my newspaper career selling advertising for the
Western Kentucky University (my alma mater) campus
paper during my senior year. After graduating from WKU, my
first job out of school was Advertising Manager for a start-up
suburban weekly newspaper in Brentwood, Tennessee. After six
months at the weekly, I joined the advertising staff of the Tennes-
sean and Nashville Banner (a Gannett controlled JOA) and held
a number of advertising sales and sales supervisor positions over
the course of my five years there.
I accepted my first Gannett promotion and management posi-
tion in 1983 and joined the Journal-Courier in Lafayette, Indiana
as Retail Advertising Manager where I worked for one of my
industry mentors, Mal Applegate, and subsequently concluded
my time with Gannett at the Reno Gazette Journal, Reno, Nevada
in 1985 as Retail Advertising Manager.
From Reno. I joined Woodward Communications, Inc. and the
Telegraph Herald, Dubuque, Iowa, a private, family owned news-
paper, as Advertising Director and remained there until joining
Indianapolis Newspapers (INI) publishers of the Indianapolis
Star-Indianapolis News in 1990. Owned by the Pulliam family,
INI is where I was reunited and had the privilege to work a sec-
ond time for with my industry mentor and friend, Mal Applegate.
While in Indianapolis, I served as Retail Advertising Manager and
subsequently was promoted to Advertising Director.
In 1993, I returned to Dubuque and Woodward Communica-
tions as Publisher of the Telegraph Herald and served in the role
for ten years before being promoted initially to Chief Operating
Officer (COO) of Woodward Communications, Inc. and subse-
quently, to President & CEO, a position I held through 2012.
I joined Wick Communications as President & CEO in October
And, a thumbnail of Wick Communications?
Basically, Wick Communications is a family/privately held
community newspaper company. Wick Communications (for-
merly known as Wick Newspaper Group) is a family-owned commu-
nity news company with 28 newspapers and 18 specialty publications
in 11 states. The corporate offices are located in Sierra Vista, Arizona,
and Wick has newspapers in Arizona, Louisiana, Montana, Colorado,
Alaska, California, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho
From the big corporate Gannett to family owned Wick, your
experience spans many years and diversely different cultures.
Tell us about the lessons learned along the way that are part of your
leadership foundation, regardless of size and scope of the company.
I’ve been blessed to work for some wonderful companies that
have provided me a wonderful and diverse array of experi-
ences and professional and life lessons. From my Gannett experience,
I learned the importance and value of training and development,
professional networking and mentoring, and annual planning and
Working for both the Pulliam and Woodward families I learned
the importance of corporate culture, the need for work-family bal-
ance, leading by example, placing our valued employees, custom-
ers and communities in priority positions and focus, and effective
employee-associate communication. I’m a big believer that corporate
culture can be managed and the one of the most important aspects
of an executive’s responsibility is to manage, nurture, communicate
and evangelize (“walk the walk and talk the talk”) the organization’s
One of the biggest “take-aways” from my time with Woodward
Communications, Inc., an employee-owned company (ESOP), was
the value of ‘participative management’. In other words...making
decisions from the bottom up, versus the top down. Anytime you can
include and provide line-level employees and mid-level managers a
voice and role in decision-making, more times than not you will make
better decisions and, at the end of the day, more effective decisions
that have the “buy-in” from a large segment of your workforce and
team. At Woodward we used a great number of Task Forces, Commit-
tees and employee groups in the decision-making process with a great
deal of success.
I’ve learned many lessons over my 36-year career...some the easy
way, others the hard way.
Be a “life-long learner!” Reading is
the key to knowledge! One of the best
and most effective management styles is
“managing by walking around.” Be visible
in and throughout the organization, get
to know your employees, be approach-
able and institute an “open door” policy
for one and all.
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