Archive for Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Longtime media executive Ralph Gage retiring from The World Company

July 31, 2013


A longtime Lawrence media executive who has helped oversee the growth of the Journal-World and its parent company is retiring after a 43-year career with The World Company.

Ralph Gage, 71, The World Company's director of special projects and its former chief operating officer, is retiring from a day-to-day role with the company today.

"What I have told everybody who will listen is that it is time for the next generation of people to have the kind of opportunities I have had," Gage said. "It is time for the next generation to do the heavy lifting."

Gage on Tuesday was praised by Journal-World executives and community members as a driving force behind the media company's success and expansion over the past four decades.

"Really, he has played a major role in nearly everything good that has happened to the paper," said Dolph C. Simons Jr., chairman of The World Company. "Personally, he has been an extremely close friend and business associate. I have valued his judgment and appreciated his honesty and ability to get things done."

Gage will continue to serve as a member of The World Company's board of directors, Simons said.

Over his more than four decades with the company, Gage has held titles including managing editor, general manager and chief operating officer. Gage also was responsible for oversight of WorldWest LLC, a corporate subsidiary that at various times owned newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.

During his tenure, he was involved in overseeing the creation and growth of Sunflower Broadband, the cable company formerly owned by The World Company, as well as Columbine Cablevision in Fort Collins, Colo. Gage also was instrumental in negotiating an agreement with Gannett Co. Inc. to print and distribute USA Today regionally from the Journal-World's production plant in downtown Lawrence, Simons said.

"The Simons family and World Company employees will greatly miss Ralph's wise counsel and daily dedication to excellence," said Dolph C. Simons III, president of The World Company's newspaper division.

Dan Simons, president of The World Company's electronics division, said Gage's experiences at the company ranged from leading the effort to convert the newspaper from an afternoon to a morning publication to serving as reporter for the paper in his earlier years with the company.

"For 43 years he has been the go-to person," Dan Simons said. "You just knew that if Ralph was running the situation, it would be done with excellence."

Jerry Cooley, who worked with Gage for many years as a Lawrence attorney who represented The World Company, said Gage had a reputation as a manager with an eye for detail.

"Any company should be proud to have a man like Ralph running its day-to-day operations," Cooley said. "He was there to make sure things ran smoothly, and when they didn't, he was there to make them run smoothly again."

Susanne Shaw, a journalism professor at Kansas University, said a hallmark of Gage's management style was his ability to cut to the chase of the discussion on nearly any topic.

"He didn't tell you what you wanted to hear, but he told you what you needed to hear, and that's very important for an organization," Shaw said.

Gage came to the Journal-World in October of 1969 after serving as a reporter with the Metro-East Journal in East St. Louis, Ill.

"I got away from all the racial strife there just in time for all the campus strife here," Gage said.

He served as a reporter covering KU, and was part of the team that covered the 1970 burning of the Kansas Union and the civil unrest on campus.

Gage said on Tuesday he plans to remain in the Lawrence community.

"I have enjoyed the community and the people I have worked with," Gage said. "What I really would like to say is that the community is quite fortunate to have the newspaper and its related entities owned by an enlightened and visionary family that cares about the community.

"I think the organization under that leadership and ownership has a bright future."


Jon Bierig 2 years, 4 months ago

I worked with Ralph from the early 80's to the late 90's as a maintenance man. We butted heads on a few occasions. He reminded me a lot of my father,he was a hardass but fair. I have the utmost respect for this man. The years that I spent around Ralph changed my life forever. Thank you Mr. Ralph Gage. Jon E. Bierig

Alia Ahmed 2 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations, Mr. Gage. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement!

DoUntoOthers 2 years, 4 months ago

I cannot imagine the pressure there must have been every day (every hour) to get a newspaper out and run the rest of the operation for 43 years. Mr. Gage handled the job professionally and wisely. He has also found time and energy to help in the community. He is a very special person who we have been most fortunate to have in Lawrence.

Dan Blomgren 2 years, 4 months ago

I knew Ralph vaguely as we worked together on occasion over the last 20 years, but I have nothing but the utmost respect for the man. I wish him only the best in retirement. I hope to bump into you on the streets of Lawrence so I can shake your hand and say 'thanks"

Jonathan Kealing 2 years, 4 months ago

Ralph was one of the three or four most influential people on my early career at the Journal-World. I always appreciated the way he pushed you to do more and go farther than you thought you could. His departure leaves big shoes to fill at the Journal-World. As the New York Times said he was "a no-nonsense taskmaster whom Mr. Simons deputized to make sure the company's trains ran on time," but for many of us who worked for him, he was more than that.

Congratulations on your retirement, Ralph. Enjoy your new freedom!

Ralph Gage 2 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the kind words. They're humbling.

cpphelps 2 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations Ralph Gage!
I have a hand full of people that I would consider influencial throughout my career, and Ralph Gage is one of them. A fearless leader, who is determined to not only get it done, but ensure that it is done RIGHT! Thank you for not only allowing me to laugh, but encouraging me to laugh! I will miss your red, bolded, all capitalized emails forever and ever!! Thank you for being a great role model! God Bless. Christina Phelps

shieldsmike 2 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations, Ralph. The place won't be the same without you. Best wishes for a long, pleasant sojourn in the pasture. I was sure I'd be out to grass before you were. Must try harder. Regards...

Mike Shields, LJW newsroom alum

Tina Roberts 2 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations, Ralph! You have kept the ink on the paper for 43 years? That's amazing! I enjoyed working with you 2003-2006.

Tina Roberts Advertising Department

David_Olson 2 years, 3 months ago

So it took Ralph's retirement announcement for me to finally sign up for a Journal World account so I could post a comment and put in my two cents' worth. As one of many young journalists who passed through the Journal World newsroom on the way to the rest of their careers, I owe Ralph an awful lot for whatever may be viewed as my successes. It was touch and go for awhile in my early days on the KU beat, but Ralph did not waiver in his high standards, patience - or crustiness. Eventually the light bulb went on and I began to apply what I was learning. And later in my career when I pursued newspaper management opportunities outside the newsroom, Ralph's leadership and mentoring still proved valuable. His retirement is well earned, though I suspect he will continue to find ways of providing the vision and the call to excellence that are sorely needed in our profession.

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