30 years of serious fun
May 15, 2011
VAIL – The Vail Daily’s 30th anniversary is a big deal, but the first anniversary was the hardest.
So says Jim Pavelich, who, along with Jon Van Housen, gave birth to the Vail Daily 30 years ago and practically potty-trained the thing.
They spent $350 in materials that first week. They sold $425 worth of advertising.
That meant they could spend another week chasing rainbows and readers.
Day after day they would try to sell ads, only to be told to come back if the paper showed any staying power.
“It’s going to be big,” Pavelich would say. And he was right, as always.
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We’ll be spending the next 30 days looking back over those last three decades, searching for what was amazing, inspiring, heartbreaking and just plain weird.
We really like the weird stuff best.
Find some longtime locals with salt and pepper hair (by now, more salt than pepper), and many will claim to remember that first edition – one page, front and back, on legal-sized paper. Town Talk was on the front page, along with a story about the No Name Golf Tournament, the locals’ answer to the celebrity-fest Jerry Ford Invitational.
Pavelich says Town Talk was Van Housen’s idea. The first one mentioned Ford Amphitheater guru Rick Richards, who’s still the Ford Amphitheater guru. Town Talk is apparently still the paper’s most popular feature.
They published in the living room of their Sandstone 70 condo, then walked around Vail handing it out like a gospel tract.
You really gotta have that kind of faith, you gotta believe, when you’re publishing a startup newspaper in the early 1980s, amid one of the worst economic crashes the country has ever seen.
Pavelich would wait tables at night and sell all day. Van Housen would tend bar at night, then hammer away until dawn on an IBM Selectric.
By the third day they had added their first staffer when Gary Smith started writing a sports column. Smith usually wrote his columns at 3 a.m., after finishing his shifts as a bartender at Sweet Basil and Vendetta’s.
And 3 a.m. was about the only time Smith could pry Van Housen away long enough to get at that IBM Selectric.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.