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Morning Star Publications sold to longtime employee

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The Seaford Star and the Laurel Star have a combined circulation of 5,000. The publications were sold earlier this year. | PHOTO COURTESY OF MIKE MCCLURE

SEAFORD — Morning Star Publications, which publishes the Seaford Star and Laurel Star, has been sold to its managing editor and co-publisher Mike McClure.

Morning Star Publications founders Bryant and Carol Richardson announced the sale was finalized in early February. The couple, who founded the newspaper company in 1996, have been easing day-to-day operations to McClure for the past couple of years before ultimately retiring from the news industry.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but McClure added that the Richardsons made it clear they were a phone call away for any needs.

“In some sense, this is a natural progression for me, since I’ve been managing editor and a co-publisher for the past seven years,” McClure told the Delaware Business Times. “The Richardsons have been incredibly supportive of the transition, and it’s to their credit that the paper has grown to where it is today.”

Morning Star Publications has seven full-time employees and its newspapers cover western Sussex County from Greenwood to Delmar. Aside from its two flagship newspapers, the company also publishes the monthly Morning Star Business Report as well as seasonal sports guides, festival inserts and an annual wedding special publication.

Mike McClure started working for Morning Star Publications at age 29. Now he’s the owner of the company. | PHOTO COURTESY OF MIKE MCCLURE

 

McClure, a native of  Ephrata, Pa., and a graduate of Salisbury University, has worked at Morning Star since 2002. After graduating college, he worked for radio stations out of Salisbury and Cambridge, Md. For a time, he also was an announcer for the Minor League Baseball team, the Lynchburg Hillcats, who are in the same division of the Delmarva Shorebirds today.

McClure also freelanced for the now-defunct Sussex Countian and later was hired by the Richardsons as a sports reporter. When the sports editor left after a few months, he was promoted to the job.

“[Sports] is what got me interested in it and what keeps me in it still,” he said. “But I’ve always done a little bit of everything over the years, like school boards and county council meetings. There’s just something great about getting the local kids’ names in the paper after the games.”

McClure was offered the role of managing editor, but first turned it down to focus on the sports coverage. But when Bryant Richardson was elected to the State Senate in 2002, McClure was primed for the challenge of running the paper.

Bryant Richardson started covering Sussex County in 1973 with the former Leader & State Register. Before then, he worked at the DuPont nylon plant in Seaford.

After a decade, the Richardsons launched the Seaford Banner to cover western Sussex County. Four years later, that paper was sold to Chesapeake Publishing Corp. By 1996, Chesapeake Publishing sold the Seaford Banner to another outlet — and the Richardsons decided to launch a new newspaper to serve the community.

The Seaford Star and Laurel Star have a combined circulation of 5,000 and the Morning Star Business Report has a circulation of 7,000. Looking to the future, McClure said that his top priority is to raise circulation and attention to the paper.

“We need to get this paper in as many hands as possible, whether that’s on newsstands or strengthening our website and social media presence,” he said. “That’s the main change ahead of us.”

Sussex County has been filled with independent publications such as Cape Gazette, Coastal Point and the Delaware State News. The News Journal’s parent company, Gannett, also covers the county with assistance from its sometimes-satellite office at the Salisbury Daily Times.

Last year, the online-only publication the Delaware Independent debuted and aims to cover western Sussex County.

“Community news is still important, and I really do think no one does it better than the independents. Reporting is hard and sometimes has long hours, but it’s rewarding work,” McClure said.

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