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Longtime Publisher of Register Threshie to Be Replaced by Ex-Editor Anderson

November 04, 1998|E. SCOTT RECKARD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

R. David Threshie, publisher of the Orange County Register for nearly 20 years, said Tuesday he will leave that post Jan. 1 and be succeeded by former Register editor N. Christian Anderson III.

Threshie, 67, will become chairman of the board of Irvine-based Freedom Communications, the parent company of the Register. Threshie replaces Robert C. Hardie, 77, who had held the position since 1982.

Threshie became publisher of the Santa Ana-based newspaper in 1979. Faced with tough competition from the Los Angeles Times, he named Anderson editor and reshaped the Register into a respected suburban daily that has since won three Pulitzer Prizes.

In a statement, Threshie said he is leaving the paper "with obviously mixed emotions, but with no qualms about its future under Chris Anderson, who was responsible for much of our early success."

Family-owned Freedom, with 7,200 employees, had 1997 sales of $645.4 million, according to Hoover's Inc. It owns 27 daily newspapers including the flagship Register, 35 weeklies, 22 magazines and eight television stations.

Focusing its coverage intensely on Orange County, the Register has built its daily circulation by a third during Threshie's tenure, to about 360,000.

The Times, which is second in circulation in Orange County, is the nation's largest daily newspaper with a total circulation of 1.07 million. Only the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, which publish five days a week, have more circulation.

Anderson, who is publisher of the Freedom-owned Colorado Springs Gazette, declined to elaborate on his plans for the Register. "Hopefully, I can build on all the things that happened here in Dave Threshie's tenure," Anderson said.

In Colorado, Anderson oversaw the launch of five specialty magazines and four Web sites in addition to running the 100,000-circulation newspaper. The Register's current editor, Tonnie L. Katz, will remain in that position.

Analysts said they expect the Register to continue to emphasize local coverage. Peter Appert, a Bankers Trust analyst who follows the newspaper industry, said the paper has proved highly profitable for Freedom by doing so.

"Given Orange County's position as one of the more attractive sections in the region, why get yourself into a bleeding situation elsewhere?" Appert said.

Anderson, 48, joined the Register in 1980 from the Seattle Times, where he was an associate managing editor. In his 12-year tenure as editor, the Register won two of its Pulitzers--one for beat reporting, one for photography. Anderson was named the paper's associate publisher in 1992 and publisher of the Colorado Springs paper in 1994.

Threshie, who is married to the daughter of former Freedom Chairman Clarence Hoiles, joined Freedom Communications in 1962 at the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph. He joined what was then the Santa Ana Register two years later as assistant business manager.

Hardie has been chairman of Freedom since 1982, taking the helm after the death of Clarence Hoiles, son of Freedom founder R.C. Hoiles. He is credited with keeping the company intact during a bitter legal squabble among family members in the mid-1980s.

Hardie also led Freedom's diversification beyond newspapers into television broadcasting and magazine publishing.

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