Goss Headliner was cutting edge 40 years ago | Western Colorado

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Like the branches of a fast-flowing river, two streams of blank newsprint merged into one path, becoming a blur of color and black ink that vanished into the metallic mass of the Goss Headliner.

“I never tire of watching this,” said Lonnie Vincent, who worked in the Daily Sentinel newsroom for 34 years and has been the newsroom supervisor since 2007.

We were watching the press print The Nickel Want ads one afternoon recently. It took several hours before Goss began printing the next day’s edition of The Sentinel.

The Sentinel you are reading today is the last edition to be printed on the Goss, which is being retired after 37 years of activity here. From now on, the Sentinel will be printed at The Montrose Daily Press.

Among several reasons for retirement is the fact that obtaining spare parts for the Goss has become extremely difficult. On several occasions in recent years, Vincent and his colleagues in the pressroom have had to call on machinist friends to make spare parts when a part of the Goss broke. Or they found parts abroad.

While it was a challenge, it was also fun to run the press, said Vincent, like working on a vintage car.

Newspapers and printing presses have been a part of Grand Junction for almost as long as the city has existed. The first printing press arrived in Grand Junction in October 1882, just a year after Grand Junction was established.

Edwin Price set up the press in his log cabin on Main Street to print the Grand Junction News, the fledgling community’s first newspaper. The cranked flatbed press arrived by stagecoach a month before the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad reached Grand Junction.

When the Goss Headliner was delivered to the Sentinel 102 years later, the 180-ton baler arrived by rail in several pieces. It took three weeks to deliver all the parts and install them in a new press building built just to handle the three-story machine.

This press building has a concrete slab three feet thick, which sits on 123 pylons that have been driven into bedrock. The pylons range from 20 feet to 60 feet in depth.

In the early 1980s, when Sentinel and its then parent company, Cox Enterprises Inc., decided to purchase the new press, western Colorado was in a development frenzy, sparked by the oil shale and d ‘other sources of energy. A population of nearly 2 million people was expected for the region.

As Western Slope’s largest newspaper, it was evident that The Sentinel would experience dramatic growth and require a more modern press than the older Harris 1650 he was using at the time.

But regional growth was only one of the questions that motivated the decision of a new press. Another was the desire to improve the quality of the newspaper, in part by making more color available for all parts of the paper, which advertisers were looking for.

Equally important, foundation problems threatened to destroy the existing pressroom, where the Harris press had been installed following a fire in 1974.

FULLY INSTALLED IN JULY 1984

However, in July 1984, when the Goss Press was installed at Sentinel, the region was in a two-year economic decline caused by the bursting of the oil shale bubble.

Still, Cox Enterprises and The Sentinel have moved forward with the new press. As then-publisher Jim Kennedy said at Goss’s dedication on July 26, 1984: “It’s a great company that invests in the community. We think it’s a good community and we’re ready to devote our resources to it.

That $ 6.5 million investment – $ 5 million for the press and about $ 1.5 million for the new press building – could have been scaled back or even abandoned when the energy economy collapsed. However, Sentinel management decided to go ahead with the project, Kennedy said, demonstrating faith in Grand Junction’s future.

I was a young reporter working in the Montrose office of the Daily Sentinel when the new press was installed, but like almost everyone else at the newspaper, I was at the dedication ceremony that morning.

The same was true for nearly 100 people from around Grand Junction, including business and community leaders. Then Colorado Governor Richard Lamm spoke at the dedication. The same is true of Charles Glover, president of Cox Enterprises at the time.

George Orbanek, editor of The Sentinel’s editorial page in 1984 and later editor of Sentinel for more than two decades, recalled that then county commissioner Maxine Albers smashed a bottle of champagne against the ‘one of the press towers to baptize it.

“Who can imagine that something like this is happening today?” Nobody, ”Orbanek said. But, he added, “It was a different time, before all the fading bits and bytes of the digital revolution made conventional printing presses obsolete.”

After the dedication was completed, the new press was turned on and began printing today’s edition of The Sentinel, a 52-page newspaper with a special section on new press and 20 additional pages of advertising supplements.

The operation of the Goss Headliner forced members of the press team to learn new ways of doing things, said Michael Montano, who has worked for The Sentinel for 44 years and is the only member of the press team. 2021 to be part of the team when the change was made. does Harris to Goss.

“The Harris was easier, but he was slow,” Montano said. “We always had to stop him to change the newspaper rolls.” Printing had to come to a complete stop while members of the press crew manually changed the rolls of newsprint.

In contrast, the Goss has what were called “flying pastors”. At the bottom of the press towers are large pins that hold three rolls of newsprint. When one roll runs out, the next is brought up to press speed and automatically begins feeding the printing units.

If all the pages are black and white, it can produce 96 page paper. In color, it can handle papers of 64 pages.

NEW LESSONS FOR THE PRESS TEAM

However, members of the press team had to learn new electronic procedures when it came to setting colors.

“On the old Harris everything was manual,” Montano said. “I remember we had to figure out how to do everything electronically” on the Goss. “We’ve gone from manually adjusting the ink keys on the old press to just pushing the buttons on the new one. “

During 37 years of operation, the electronic circuit boards for color adjustments gradually burned out and no new replacements were available. So the color on the Goss is now adjusted manually, as it was on the old Harris press, he said.

The Goss Headliner’s five printing towers are capable of producing 60,000 pages per hour, compared to about 40,000 per hour for the old Harris. And that doesn’t include the requirement to shut down Harris to change the paper rolls.

During Goss’ busiest days of operation in Grand Junction – from the 1990s to the early 2000s – large advertising inserts were regularly printed with The Daily Sentinel. Then the Goss Headliner frequently ran near its maximum speed – around 50,000 pages per hour.

The largest number of copies of the Daily Sentinel ever printed came on August 31, 1997, the day Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash in Paris, Orbanek recalled. The news arrived too late to be published in the Denver dailies, he recalls. But the folks at The Sentinel went out of their way to make it the main story for this Sunday’s newspaper.

“Combined with our regular subscribers and copy sales, the overall circulation today was the highest in Daily Sentinel history,” between 35,000 and 40,000 copies, he said.

“The press did a tremendous job that night, as it has done time and time again,” Orbanek added.

But now there are fewer ad inserts and The Sentinel has fewer pages in total than it was at its peak. Therefore, higher press speed and capacity is no longer required.

“It’s like driving a tractor-trailer to get to work every day,” current Sentinel editor Jay Seaton said.

It’s not just Grand Junction where newspaper production has changed dramatically. Over the past two decades, nationwide newspaper circulation has grown from just over 55 million homes to around 28 million homes. Many newspapers have ceased publication or have gone online only.

When the Goss Headliner began printing in Grand Junction, it was the third of its kind to go into production in the United States. Newspapers in Gainesville, Florida and Joplin, Missouri installed Goss Headliners earlier in 1984.

It’s unclear how many headliners are still in service, but Goss – now Manroland Goss Web Systems – no longer manufactures them.

When installed, the Goss was expected to last 50 years or more, Orbanek said. “The sad reality is that the digital revolution has virtually shut down all manufacturers of press parts. If spare parts were still available, the Goss and other similar presses could probably continue to operate.

The Sentinel’s Goss will remain where it is, in the press room that was built for it almost 40 years ago, a sort of museum in another era in the history of the newspaper. It’s too expensive to take it apart and move it around, Seaton said. Some of its parts could be sold to other newspapers that still operate Goss Headliners, he added.

For Vincent, who is retiring after today, it will be bittersweet to know that the rivers of newsprint no longer flow through the Goss. “I think of the world of this press,” he said. “It was a good race. I really enjoyed it.

Sources: Author interviews with Lonnie Vincent, Michael Montano and other members of the Daily Sentinel press team; George Orbanek’s email comments; The Daily Sentinel, July 26, 1984 via www.newspapers.com; “Grand Jonction, 1881”, by Al Look; “Why did the local news fall apart? By Jack Shafer, Politico, www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/06/12.


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