Publisher of Petoskey News-Review announces plans to retire
When Doug Caldwell first visited Petoskey. Mich., in January 2006, he asked his wife, Mary Ann, to use her imagination.
"I told her, just imagine everything's green," Caldwell said with a laugh.
Just over two months later, the Caldwells made the move to Northern Michigan, a place they've called home for the past 12 years.
Caldwell – the president and publisher of Northern Michigan Review, a company operating the Petoskey News-Review and several other publications in the region – is retiring at the end of 2018.
Caldwell said he has mixed emotions about retiring after taking over as publisher in March 2006.
"One of the things I didn't want to do in this business was to stay too long," Caldwell said. "I think there's things in my life I'm looking forward to and new challenges, things I wanted to do that I never had time to do whether that's volunteer opportunities or family opportunities – things I'd like to move forward with and explore."
Caldwell came to Petoskey after serving as president and publisher at the Daily American in Somerset, Penn., from 2002 to 2006. He also served as publisher at the Ottumwa (Iowa) Courier from 1999-2001, as well as the Du Quoin (Ill.) Evening Call, Marion (Ill.) Daily Republican, Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican and Columbia City (Ind.) Post and Mail.
He also was named Michigan Press Association board president in September 2016, and served until last year.
"It's my time," Caldwell said. "It's my time to step aside. I've got some really talented people in this organization who'll be able to move forward. I'm confident they'll be able to move this organization to a higher level."
Caldwell, whose parents, Clif and Millie were owners of a pair of weekly newspapers in Illinois, started his career working for his parents' papers in reporting, advertising and composition.
"I feel very fortunate," Caldwell said. "When I arrived in Petoskey in 2006 I had certain ideas I wanted to do. We've seen constant change not only in our environment and our industry, but our community and for businesses.
"It's been a fascinating experience."
Caldwell said he takes pride in the fact Petoskey has a solid community newspaper that's not just on one side or the other, but provides fair and balanced coverage.
"I'm very happy on what we've tried to accomplish," Caldwell said. "I've been in this business for 40-plus years, a variety of newspaper organizations and media companies, and I have to say that being in Petoskey has been a wonderful experience for me and the main reason is the people.
"The people are the big difference," Caldwell added. "There's people here than not only have the best attitudes, but are focused on solutions that are for the better of mankind so to speak."
He's also proud to have witnessed significant growth in Petoskey and the surrounding communities, whether it's Petoskey's new high school athletic complex or a variety of entertainment venues in Harbor Springs, Charlevoix and Boyne City.
"This has been a good family experience and a good personal experience to move here to Northern Michigan," Caldwell said. "What made the decision easier was Schurz Communications wanted to make sure my wife was with me. It's always a challenge to move."
Caldwell said when he first arrived in Petoskey, he talked to clerks and non-management people to get a sense for what their feelings were on the community in which they lived.
"It was uplifting and it helped make my decision," Caldwell said.
Looking ahead, Caldwell plans to visit his son, Michael, and family in Nebraska, his son, Curtis, in Pennsylvania and his youngest son, Colin, who'll be a freshman at Michigan Technological University this fall.
"We're deeply rooted here (in Petoskey) and it's where I want to stay," Caldwell said.
He also credited his experience in the Rotary Club of Petoskey as being very rewarding.
"I was able to meet a lot of people and it (Rotary) opened a lot of doors for me," Caldwell said. "I want to give back. I'm affiliated with the Michigan Press Association, will do some things with the MPA and (Schurz Communications, the Indiana-based parent company of Northern Michigan Review) has tapped me on the shoulder about doing some things afterwards.
"I will not have any trouble finding new challenges," Caldwell said. "That and I want to be able to still swing the golf club around."
Cory Bollinger, vice president of publishing at Schurz Communications, lauded Caldwell's leadership in Northern Michigan.
"Doug is a gentlemen and a professional who thinks about the business, cares about the business and puts his whole self into it," Bollinger said. "He's a great developer of people and he likes to work with his talent, develop talent and he does a great job of consistently tapping into his talent and letting them help him figure out how to run the business.
"That's been his real success," Bollinger added. "He's always been able to tap into talent and is very personable."
Bollinger said Caldwell also values community and team development.
"He has a family history of being in the industry and he was the perfect guy to come in and take over in Petoskey," Bollinger said. "Petoskey has been a very successful operation. Doug's mind is always going, he's working all the time. The person that replaces him will have to be continually thinking and want to drive the group."
Caldwell said he's most proud of the people he's worked with on his staff.
"To see how they've developed and how they've become their own person," Caldwell said. "We're doing some remarkable things at a small community newspaper. We do a great job from a standpoint of informing communities with locally driven news and sports that other communities don't have.
"Whether it's print or digital audiences, we have a greater audience – about five times from where I started – to today," Caldwell said. "We've diversified our product line and that's a testament to the people we have on staff. It makes my job a lot easier when you have good people, and we have great people in the Petoskey area."
Along with the News-Review, Northern Michigan Review properties include the Gaylord Herald Times, Charlevoix Courier, four PhoneGuide telephone directories and other speciality publications.