The 113-year history of the Kingsville Record and Bishop News will not, after all, end with this week’s edition. A transfer of ownership of the newspaper by King Ranch Inc., which has owned it since 1953, is being finalized this week.
Kingsville Area Industrial Development Foundation Chairman and Kleberg Bank President Brad Womack said the Foundation is in the process of taking over the newspaper from King Ranch.
“The community has really rallied behind the newspaper. With support from folks like Mayor Sam Fugate, Dr. Mark Hussey and Robert Underbrink we have gained great support for this transfer,” Womack said.
Hussey is president of Texas A&M University-Kingsville and Underbrink is CEO of King Ranch Inc.
Although the King Ranch will no longer own the newspaper, Underbrink said the company will provide support for it as it continues.
“I grew up in Riviera, and for my entire life the Kingsville Record has been part of my home. I know its importance to the community, and I’m pleased that it has an opportunity to continue,” Underbrink said. “King Ranch is currently working with the new leadership to ensure as seamless a transition as possible, and is committed to supporting the newspaper moving forward.”
The final issue under the King Ranch will be Dec. 12. The new organization will begin publishing with the Dec. 19 edition, so subscribers will not experience any interruption in their service.
“We are currently in talks with the staff, encouraging them to stay on with the new entity,” Womack said.
Tim Acosta has been named editor and publisher of the new Kingsville Record. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University-Kingsville and previously worked as an editor for the newspaper from 2011 to 2017. He has worked as a journalist in the Coastal Bend for nearly 15 years, including with the Corpus Christi-Caller Times, the Nueces County-Record Star and Corpus Beat Magazine.
Current Publisher Christopher Maher will remain with King Ranch and will oversee their Visitor Program and archives.
“Tim Acosta is the finest journalist I have ever met,” Maher said. “He has a passion for the Kingsville community, and I know the newspaper will be in good hands with him at the helm.”
In the two weeks since the initial announcement was made to close the newspaper, many businesses and individuals in the community have expressed their desire to see the newspaper continue.
“We will need the business community to step up their advertising commitments throughout the year, every year to ensure that the Kingsville Record remains viable and vibrant. We would also encourage residents to consider a subscription as we strive to increase readership and continue to improve the quality of the product,” Womack said.
“Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have, until we lose it,” he added.
Executive director of the EDC and President and CEO of the Kingsville Chamber of Commerce Manny Salazar has officially backed the project.
“The chamber supports our business community and understands how important a local newspaper is to small business. We are excited and proud to be a part of the solution,” Salazar said.
TAMUK also has made commitments financially and in-kind to support the endeavors of the Foundation pertaining to the Kingsville Record.
Both the City of Kingsville and Kleberg County also have made commitments to support the longevity of the Kingsville Record, according to Fugate and County Judge Rudy Madrid.
“Losing the newspaper would be a huge loss to the community,” Madrid said.
“I think about the children, the schools, the obituaries, the legal notices” that would be lost without a newspaper, he said.
“We need to come together as a city and county” to keep the newspaper, Madrid added.
The mayor said, “A community the size of Kingsville, which is the county seat, with a major university, a naval air station and the King Ranch should not be without a newspaper — and Kingsville will not be without a newspaper.”
Womack said he wanted “to really thank King Ranch and Robert Underbrink for working with the Foundation to make this happen. Their support is necessary and appreciated.”