Bill Brehm Sr. (pictured), the still active 85-year-old chairman of San Diego’s Brehm Communications Inc. (BCI), began working in print journalism in 1946. That’s a full 36 years before the first Dean S. Lesher Award was handed out to its namesake in 1982.
In other words, the owner of more than 60 newspapers in seven different states surely had no shortage of stories to tell today in Phoenix when he accepted the 2011 edition of the Suburban Newspapers of America‘s highest honor. Per a write-up in his Hi-Desert Star:
Brehm began his career as a printer’s devil, or apprentice, for The Industrial Post in Bell and his ambition launched him quickly to bigger responsibilities. By 1950, he became a publisher in the company, soon took over the corporate role of general manager and in 1960, upon the death of the owner (and his father-in-law), became president.
When he took the reins, the group consisted of four failing Los Angeles-area newspapers; by 1981, Brehm and his wife, Mona, had grown them into a successful group of 19 suburban weeklies and two small dailies.
Brehm has acquired more than 100 different newspapers (!) during his career and is fond of a great little workplace technique. He likes to enter through the back door and thus pass by each newspaper department to get a real, unfettered sense of what’s going on.