The story of Quincy Newspapers Inc. (QNI) is a tale of two families and five generations of leadership that nurtured a single newspaper into a multi-media company now employing more than 900 people and serving markets in 14 states.
Successive generations of the founding families, the Oakleys of Quincy with roots in Rockford and the Lindsays of Decatur, guided that growth.
QNI was formed in 1926 to publish the newly merged Herald-Whig, the sole heir to a long line of Quincy publications and a direct descendant of the first newspaper in Adams County. The Herald-Whig printed its first edition on June 1, 1926.
The Herald-Whig traces its roots to The Illinois Bounty Land Register, which published its first edition on April 17, 1835, seventeen years after Illinois achieved statehood. At the time, there were only three other newspapers in the state, publishing in Jacksonville, Springfield and Galena.
The Illinois Bounty Land Register became The Herald in 1841, which began publishing as a daily in 1850. The Herald changed hands no less than four times before being purchased in 1891 by Edmund M. Botsford, Hedley H. Eaton and Charles L. Miller, experienced newspapermen from Rockford.
Miller, who earlier founded the Rockford Daily Register, the first permanent newspaper in that city, brought his brother-in-law and nephew, Aaron Burr Oakley and Ray M. Oakley, to The Herald with him. These two became the first generations of Oakleys in the newspaper business in Quincy. Today, Ray M. Oakley's grandson, Thomas A. Oakley, is president and chief executive officer of QNI. Other members of the Oakley family are actively involved in the operations of the corporation and its media companies.
In 1893, The Herald changed from a morning to an afternoon paper and, in 1896, Miller left Quincy to return to Rockford.
In the meantime, The Quincy Whig was established. It began publishing as a weekly newspaper in May 1838 and expanded to a daily on March 22, 1852. The Quincy Whig also changed hands several times before it was purchased in 1915 by two brothers from Decatur, Frank M. Lindsay, Sr. and Arthur O. Lindsay, Sr. A.O. Lindsay remained in Quincy as president and manager. F.M. Lindsay remained in Decatur with the Decatur Herald and formed an association with another Illinois newspaper family, the Schaubs. In 1920, the Whig purchased The Quincy Journal, established on Sept.11, 1863, and began publishing The Whig-Journal.
For six years The Quincy Herald and The Whig-Journal competed, each publishing evening city, morning rural, and Sunday editions. In 1926, the two merged, forming The Quincy Herald-Whig and its parent corporation, Quincy Newspapers, Inc. The merger brought two Illinois newspaper families, the Oakleys and the Lindsays, together in a business association that continues today through succeeding generations.
The Herald-Whig is now published in a three-story building stretching for a half-block in the heart of downtown Quincy, a unique multi-level facility housing a state-of-the art publishing operation and the corporate offices of QNI.
QNI entered the broadcasting field in 1947, the year it started Quincy's first commercial FM station, WQDI. The following year QNI purchased Quincy Broadcasting Co. to operate WGEM, the city's second AM station. WQDI then became WGEM-FM.
In 1953, Quincy Broadcasting launched WGEM-TV, the first television station in Quincy. In 1965, Quincy Newspapers Inc. and Continental Cablevision Inc. of Boston formed Quincy Cablevision, which began by serving cable subscribers in Quincy, Hamilton and Keokuk, Iowa, in 1968.
The company expanded its newspaper operation in 1969, joining with a group of publishers to purchase the New Jersey Herald in Newton, N.J. The new owners converted the semi-weekly to a daily and Sunday publication in 1970, and QNI became sole owner in 1985.
QNI sold its minority interest in Quincy Cablevision in 1974 and began expanding its television holdings. QNI purchased WSJV-TV (FOX) in South Bend-Elkhart, Ind., in 1975, followed in 1976 with the purchase of KTTC (NBC) in Rochester, Minn., and in 1979 with WVVA (NBC) in Bluefield, W.Va. The company purchased KTIV (NBC) in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1989 and WREX (NBC) in Rockford, Ill., in 1995. In June 2001, QNI purchased Shockley Communications Corporation, acquiring five Wisconsin ABC stations: WKOW-TV in Madison, WAOW-TV in Wausau, WQOW-TV in Eau Claire, WYOW-TV in Eagle River, WXOW-TV in La Crosse, and a shared services agreement with KXLT-TV, the FOX affiliate and KTTC both in Rochester, MN.
QNI is actively pursuing convergence opportunities that bring together the resources of its broadcasting operations and newspapers to serve readers and viewers in all of its markets across all platforms: print, radio, television and over the Internet.
The corporation, family members and senior management have contributed over the years in many ways to the markets in which they operate.
The Oakley-Lindsay Foundation, established in 1969, has provided significant financial support to meet a wide range of social, cultural and infrastructure needs. The foundation is a consistent supporter of capital campaigns in the communities that QNI serves and, in many cases, company employees have led those efforts. QNI and its officers are committed to providing corporate and personal leadership in each market they serve and in the newspaper and broadcast industries.