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The Erwin Record to mark 83rd ‘birthday’

This week marks the 83rd “birthday” of The Erwin Record, which made its debut on Jan. 27, 1928.
And to celebrate that birthday, readers have an opportunity to win a special birthday present: $83.
On Thursday, Jan. 27, beginning at 4 p.m., readers can call The Erwin Record office at 743-0129, and the 83rd caller to that number saying “Happy 83rd Birthday” will win $83.
The Erwin Record was first published on Jan. 27, 1928.
Mark A. Stevens, the fifth and current publisher and a seventh-generation Unicoi Countian, said the paper has built and continued a tradition of “doing the very best” for Unicoi County.”
Its first editorial, written by Alma M. Broce, the newspaper’s owner and first publisher, proclaimed, “We believe in the future of this (town) and the surrounding territory, and feel that we will have the cooperation of the community in this publication.”
Stevens said that tradition has been noticed by residents and by the newspaper’s peers.
“In 2010, The Erwin Record was named the state’s top nondaily newspaper for the eighth year in a row,” he said. “That’s a record of accomplishment our present and former staff, our readers and the community can take pride in.”
When Broce established The Erwin Record, the newspaper was following in the footsteps of predecessors dating back to 1891. But its path quickly became rocky when the stock market crash of October 1929 ushered in the Great Depression.
As competitors fell by the wayside, The Erwin Record managed to survive economic hardships of the decade that followed. While doing so, it built a reputation for excellence that has continued to the present day.
Links to The Erwin Record can be traced to The Erwin Magnet, first published by Col. J. F. Toney on March 3, 1891. More than a century later, Toney’s contributions as an early leader of the town have not been forgotten, and the public library bears his name.
Toney published The Erwin Magnet for 36 years, until April 1, 1927, when he sold it to P.C. Muse of Johnson City.
The Harvey P. Broce family had begun publishing a small paper, The Erwin Times, in 1926, and four days after Muse purchased The Erwin Magnet, the two merged.
The resulting publication, co-owned by Muse and Harvey Broce, was called The Erwin Magnet-Times. That newspaper had a short history, lasting only about nine months, and the final issue was printed on Dec. 23, 1927.
Mr. Broce served as editor and manager of the Magnet-Times until relinquishing the position on Sept. 26, 1927. His wife, Alma M. Broce, who had been associate editor, began running the newspaper at that point.
After a brief period of time when the county was without a paper, the Broces began publishing The Erwin Record on Jan. 27, 1928.
On April 5, 1929, the paper announced that it had begun printing issues in Erwin on equipment formerly owned by J.F. Toney and R.M. Barry. The deal in which the equipment was purchased also included absorption into The Erwin Record of another newspaper started in 1928, The Unicoi County Progress.
Alma Broce continued in the role of publisher for 28 years, eventually sharing the title of publisher with her son, Keith Broce. The exact role of Mrs. Broce’s husband in the new venture is unclear, but he reportedly suffered from diabetes and died in the 1930s.
The Feb. 9, 1956, issue of The Erwin Record was the last to appear under Broce ownership.
The Erwin Record’s second owner, Jay M. Steinberg, came here from Missouri at the age of 28 after gaining several years of experience in the weekly and daily newspaper fields. He took charge on Feb. 10, 1956, and published his first issue six days later.
Dorothy Steinberg explained that her husband was told by his boss in Missouri, “You ought to have your own paper.”
The Steinbergs were responsible for the publication’s move to its current location at 218 Gay St. on Oct. 22-23, 1957. For the first 14 months of its existence beginning in 1928, The Erwin Record had operated out of a temporary office at 318 Tucker St. before finding permanent quarters at 109 and 111 Gay St.
The Erwin Record’s third owner was The Erwin Publishing Co., with Carl A. Jones Jr. serving as the corporation’s publisher and president. Jones also was publisher of the Johnson City Press.
With that change of ownership in August 1968, Erwin native Lee Vance became the newspaper’s editor, vice president and general manager. He continued in those positions until retiring in March 1987.
The next vice president and general manager was Thomas D. “Tom” Harris, who held those titles from April 1987 to August 1997.
After his father’s death in 1991, Carleton A. Jones III served as publisher until the newspaper was sold on May 1, 2002, to its current owner, Sandusky Newspapers Inc. The parent corporation, with roots in the Sandusky (Ohio) Register, has been in the hands of the same family for more than a century.
Other publications owned by Sandusky Newspapers Inc. include the Johnson City Press, the Kingsport Times-News, the (Jonesborough) Herald and Tribune, and The (Mountain City) Tomahawk.
Stevens took charge of The Erwin Record Sept. 1, 1997, when he was 28 — the same age Steinberg was when he took over The Record in 1956. Stevens served as executive editor and general manager until 2005, when he was named publisher.