Tom Throne served at six different newspapers in three different states, but one thing remained the same across his journalism career: community.
“I live by a philosophy that my boss in Missouri taught me,” Throne said. “In order to improve the community in which we work, we need to be involved in it. It may or may not have generated business for us, but that wasn’t the important part. I wanted to make McPherson a better place.”
Throne, who worked at the McPherson Sentinel in the 1980s as managing editor, general manager and later publisher, was inducted into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame on Feb. 9.
“There’s only 128 people in the hall of fame, and you look at the names, like William Allen White, Webb Hawkins,” Throne said. “There’s a lot of really good people, and for me to be part of that is pretty cool.”
Though the award has Throne’s name on it, he sees it more as an accumulative representation of everyone who influenced his career.
“This is a great award for me, but I think it’s truly a reflection on the great people I’ve had the chance to work with,” Throne said. “I’m a lucky man, I was in the right place at the right time for a lot of this stuff, and I had great people working for me and a loving and caring family that supported me.”
Throne was nominated by Gary Mehl, past publisher of the Sentinel, Kathy Hackleman, past editor of the Sentinel, and Gene Hall, who oversaw Throne’s role with the American Publishing Company.
“One of the things I believed in all my roles at the paper, whether I was a reporter, photographer or all the way up, was being involved in the community,” Throne said. “When I was in McPherson, I was part of a lot of committees, like the City Center which was the forerunner to McPherson Main Street, I was active in that and the Chamber of Commerce, Red Cross. I think being part of the community is important.”
Though at different newspapers, Throne carried the philosophy that newspapers should cover the specific stories of the people in their communities first.
“I’m a history buff, and I think newspapers are the recorders of history. I look at is as that in years to come, people will go back and look at what we’ve done in the paper to get a reflection of what the community was like during that time. Everyone has a story to tell. The more you get out in the community, you see stories about people that generate conversations around town. That was my editorial philosophy, along with no AP (national stories) on the front page. It can be on page 2 and beyond, but we wanted the front to be all local,” Throne said.
New this year, three individuals were inducted into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame, Throne, Craig McNeal of the Council Grove Republican and Rudy Taylor of Taylor Newspapers in Montgomery County.
Throne was born in Washington, D.C. in 1949 and graduated from the University of Kansas in 1972 with a degree in photojournalism. He started as his first job as a photographer at the Junction City Daily Union and eventually became managing editor. Throne then became managing editor of the Maryville Daily Forum in Maryville, Missouri in 1980.
In 1983, Throne became the managing editor of the McPherson Sentinel.
“The former managing editor, John Fraser who lives in McPherson still, called me in April 1983 and told me, ‘I’m changing jobs and I think you ought to apply.’ We lived in Missouri at the time and my wife and I wanted to get back to Kansas,” Throne said. “We had a really good team at the Sentinel. The whole time I was there, we had great employees and we had a lot of fun working.”
In December of 1988, the Sentinel was purchased by the American Publishing Company out of Chicago, so in October 1989, Throne was promoted to general manager.
“That was my first job getting a budget together, and as a newsroom person, we don’t know a whole lot about numbers. So, they put me in an accounting class a few months before I took over and I was halfway through the class when they decided that I’d be the new general manager in McPherson. Needless to say, my grades suffered,” Throne laughed.
He served as a district manager for Carter Zerbe, who was a Hall of Fame inductee in 2015, and supervised newspapers in Colorado.
From there, Throne was promoted to publisher of the Leavenworth Times in November 1996, where he remained until he returned to Junction City as general manager of The Daily Union in 2005.
“My wife and I went and looked at the Leavenworth paper and decided that we liked the challenge of it and it presented new opportunities since that paper was double the size of McPherson,” Throne said. “If I hadn’t have went there, we would have stayed in McPherson for a while longer.”
In 2010, he and his wife, Pam, decided to move to Bentonville, Arkansas, to be closer to their daughter, Sara, and grandson, Cole. From 2011 to 2015, he was the managing editor the Bella Vista Weekly Vista. He retired in January 2016.
Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.