Clyde E. Palmer
| Clyde Eber Palmer
(Owner of chain of newspapers, radio stations, and television outlet in Texas and Arkansas)
|Born|| August 24, 1876 |
Spirit Lake, Dickinson County, Iowa, USA
|Died|| July 4, 1957 (aged 80) |
|Spouse|| (1) Missing
(2) Bettie Palmer (married 1931-1957, his death)
Clyde Eber Palmer (August 24, 1876 – July 4, 1957) was the owner of a chain of newspapers and radio stations and a television outlet covering southwestern Arkansas and part of northeastern Texas during the early to middle 20th century. He operated his media conglomerate from Texarkana, Texas.
Palmer was born to Mr. and Mrs. Eber Palmer in Spirit Lake in Dickinson County in northwestern Iowa near the Minnesota border. He began his journalism career in 1894, at the age of eighteen, as a stenographer at the then Texarkana Gazette and News.
In 1909, Palmer and his second wife, Bettie M. Palmer (1889-1974), were on their honeymoon and traveling by railroad from Fort Worth, Texas, to Florida. They stopped in Texarkana and decided to stay a few days in Palmer's former city of residence. Before they resumed their trip, Palmer purchased for $900 the Texarkana Courier, one of several newspapers then in existence in the Texas-Arkansas border city.
Building a newspaper chain
Over the years, Palmer consolidated the rival papers into The Texarkana Gazette, his personal favorite of all the newspapers that he would own or co-own. An ambitious businessman, Palmer thereafter acquired the News and Times, since The News-Times in El Dorado, The New Era and The Sentinel Record in Hot Springs, and The Camden News in Camden in Ouachita County. He became co-publisher of the since defunct The Hope Star in Hope in Hempstead County, and the Magnolia Banner-News in Columbia County. Palmer also had an interest in newspapers in Stephens in southern Ouachita County, Stuttgart in Arkansas County, and Russellville in Pope County.
In 1912, Palmer renamed the Courier as the Four States Press, a reference to the general circulation areas of Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma. In 1933, the same year that he ventured into radio, Palmer finally managed the purchase of The Texarkana Gazette, which was founded in 1875, a year before his own birth. The Texarkana Gazette is a morning newspaper. The former Texarkana Daily News was the Gazette's companion afternoon daily until it ceased publication in 1978.
A number afternoon newspapers ceased in the latter twentieth century, including publications in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Shreveport (the former Shreveport Journal), Baton Rouge (The State Times), New Orleans (The States-Item), San Antonio (The Light), and Dallas (The Times Herald) as readers demonstrated an increasing preference for a morning paper.
Palmer's The Texarkana Gazette still circulates in the Texas counties of Bowie, Cass, Marion, Morris, Red River, and Titus and the Arkansas counties of Columbia, Hempstead, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Nevada, Pike, and Sevier. Newspapers are also delivered into McCurtain County, Oklahoma, and northern Caddo Parish, Louisiana.
The Texarkana Gazette in 2007 had more than 130 employees and some 120 independent carriers that deliver newspapers in a 60-mile radius. The average circulation is about 34,000 daily.
Palmer determined that the key to newspaper success was dependent, in this order, upon:
- The readers
- Newspaper employees
Palmer technological innovations
- 1. The teletypesetter circuit.
- 2. Facsimile transmissions by microwave.
- 3. Cold type composition, rather than hot metal.
- 4. Offset lithography printing.
- 5. Spot color on a news photograph, first used in 1946 by The Texarkana Daily News, which depicted a red flashlight found at the scene of a murder.
- 6. High speed telegraph service (1930).
- 7. First automatic teletypesetter circuits to connect a group of newspapers (1942). In the midst of World War II, when there was a shortage of skilled newspaper employees, the "Palmer Circuit" enabled his six newspapers to pool news items without having to hire additional staff. This idea was thereafter copied by other chains and press associations.
The Palmer chain was one of the first Arkansas companies to provide (1) group major medical benefits for its employees and one of the first newspaper chains in the American South to provide (2) a profit-sharing plan for employee retirement to supplement Social Security.
Radio and television
In 1933, Palmer launched the first of his radio stations in Texarkana. Other outlets followed in Hot Springs and Camden.
Over the years, his interest extended to television. In 1953, he launched a CBS affiliate in Texarkana called KCMC-TV. At the time there were no stations in Shreveport, some seventy miles to the south. In 1954, another CBS station, KSLA-TV opened in Shreveport. In 1961, four years after Palmer's death, KCMC switched from CBS to NBC, and the call letters were changed to KTAL-TV (for Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana). The previous NBC station in Shreveport, KTBS-TV, joined ABC. Therefore, both cities for the first time had access to the three major networks. This was in the period before independent stations and widespread cable operations began to emerge. A new tower was built for KTAL in Vivian in northern Caddo Parish. At that time it was the second-tallest television tower in the South and provided a clear signal in both markets.
Death and legacy
The Palmers' daughter, Betty (1911-1990), attended college at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, where she met Walter E. Hussman, Sr., in the School of Journalism. The couple married in 1931. They had two daughters and a son. Hussman first sold insurance until he went to work for his father-in-law in the newspaper business. Hussman entered the military during the war. On his return, he sought to purchase The Midland Reporter-Telegram in Midland in west Texas. Palmer instead offered to sell The Camden News to his son-in-law.
On Palmer's death, his wife, Bettie, and daughter, Betty Palmer Hussman, inherited most of the stock in the company. Through a reorganization in 1968, The Camden News technically became the parent company of Palmer operations. Hussman became head of the firm that published the then two Texarkana newspapers as well as the other Palmer holdings.
In 1981, after a career that spanned more than fifty years, the senior Hussman retired. His son, Walter E. Hussman, Jr., joined the company in 1970 and was named president upon his father's retirement. Hussman, Jr., publishes the Palmer flagship newspaper, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, in the capital city of Little Rock, acquired in 1974. The Texarkana Gazette remains a subsidiary of WEHCO Media, an acronym of "Walter E. Hussman Company," which still publishes daily newspapers in Little Rock, Hot Springs, El Dorado, Camden, and Magnolia.
Palmer was a member of the Masonic lodge. In 1944, he established the philanthropic Palmer Foundation, which impacted the education of a generation of American school children. In 1956, the American Book Company, with $200,000 in underwriting from the Palmer Foundation, published a set of morals-based readers. Called the Golden Rule series, the books are subtitled a "The Modern McGuffey Readers." The stories cited center upon eleven moral themes: cooperation, courage, fairness, friendliness, honesty, kindness, patriotism, perseverance, responsibility, reverence, and unselfishness.
Clyde and Bettie Palmer are interred in Texarkana. Palmer died on a July 4; his son-in-law, Walter Hussman, Sr., was buried in Camden, Arkansas, on a July 4 thirty-one years after Palmer's passing.
No other notes are available; material was assembled in 2007. The sources originally used are no longer on-line.