ashland.news
May 19, 2024

Rogue Valley Times hires publisher from Long Beach

Rogue Valley Times Publisher David Sommers. Long Beach Post photo by Thomas R. Cordova
March 22, 2023

Also add advertising sales manager formerly with Mail Tribune

By Buffy Pollock, Rogue Valley Times

The Rogue Valley Times has filled two important roles with the hiring of a publisher and an advertising sales manager.

Long Beach Post publisher David Sommers will take the helm as the first publisher of the Times, while Cheryl McKenzie, a former advertising executive with the former Mail Tribune, will build the ad department “from the ground up.”

Sommers most recently served as the CEO of Pacific Community Media and publisher of the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal, one of the largest media organizations in Southern California.

Sommers said he and his team at the Post rallied in 2018 to “address the decline of local journalism in Long Beach,” growing the Post from a staff of three to nearly 30 full-time employees and journalists serving more than one million monthly readers and viewers.

The son of retired Salvation Army officers and a graduate of California State University, Sacramento, Sommers previously served as the chief operating officer of Pacific6 Enterprises, a Long Beach-based private equity impact investment partnership, and as chief communications executive and lead spokesperson for the county of Los Angeles, which boasts 108,000 employees and a budget of over $35 billion.

Sommers, who started his journalism career as a news producer at NBC affiliates in Idaho and Oregon, said he and his family have ties to Southern Oregon and have seen the region as a “second home” for many years.

Sommers said he was excited to help with a startup venture that has had such an immediate and impressive level of community support.

“It’s been remarkable. I remember in February seeing a (Twitter post) with a picture of all the mailed-in subscriptions before the first print edition had even been sent out. That kind of community support, before you even put the product into the market, it’s incredible. And it’s something I’m so much looking forward to being part of,” Sommers said.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to help continue what’s being created.”

The “secret sauce” of building a successful media entity, Sommers said, is community connection.

“For me in Long Beach — and it’s true for any community — it’s about authenticity and being part of the community in a genuine way,” he said.

“My number-one job is to be a representative of our journalists out in the community, to be a champion for the work that we’re doing. I think that’s what we’ve done here in Long Beach, and what a lot of this new generation of newspapers is bringing from the wreckage of the days of corporate journalism.”

Sommers said he was eager to be part of family-run EO Media Group’s efforts to bring “mission-focused service journalism” to Southern Oregon.

“From what I’ve been seeing, the numbers are moving much faster on the advertising side and subscription and circulation sides than we expected. That’s both a blessing and a challenge, because we’re going to have to build an organization very rapidly and from the ground up,” he added.

Sitting in his office, helping with a project at the Post Sunday night, Sommers said he planned to announce his departure Wednesday.

“This decision was not an easy one to make, but what a gift that I get to be part of what’s happening in Southern Oregon and to have a chance to see and be part of the same wonderful thing happening in a place I already know and love,” Sommers said.

Cheryl McKenzie

McKenzie, who began her new job at the Rogue Valley Times March 8, echoed Sommers’ sentiments. A former advertising manager at the Mail Tribune who oversaw local real estate publications and business-branding entities, McKenzie said she was flattered at the invitation to come aboard as advertising sales manager.

“Coming out of a two-year retirement, I am excited about the opportunity and about being involved in launching the newest paper in the valley,” she said.

A resident of the Rogue Valley since 1981, the mother and grandmother’s print background stretches nearly three decades. McKenzie worked to help establish advertising territory for EO Media Group’s Capital Press — in Southern Oregon and Northern California — in 2018.

“When I retired in 2020, I wasn’t excited about not being involved with the community, so I am really excited for this opportunity,” she said, noting that initial plans call for building a team of six sales people and reaching out to local advertisers with whom she has decades-long ties.

“EO Media a great company. This is a startup, which is exciting, but the really great thing is we’ve got this incredible company backing us and we have this wonderful family atmosphere with a team of local journalists who have been vested in the community for a very long time.”

Sommers will start his new job in Medford April 17.

For advertising information, email McKenzie at cmckenzie@rv-times.com or call 541-890-7155.

To reach Sommers, email dsommers@rv-times.com.

Reach reporter Buffy Pollock at 458-488-2029 or bpollock@rv-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @orwritergal. This story first appeared in the Rogue Valley Times.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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