“Long Branch Daily Record” History
Long Branch’s “hometown newspaper” was founded as a weekly in 1883 by Robert M. Stults and Louis Bennett. It began printing daily in 1902 under “whole-souled” editor Frank M. Taylor, Jr. who called it “the people’s paper.”
Sadly, the Long Branch Daily Record has been out of print for nearly half a century now (since 1975). To me, the city never needed it more. Too bad.
In September 1887, Taylor got involved when he bought an unsteady newspaper then called The Home Record. This former Chattle High School student newspaper editor would make big changes in the real world. A Long Branch native (his father was superintendent of an early city pier), visionary and pioneering journalist, Taylor died in July 1902 shortly after the paper went daily during that summer.
After Taylor’s death, John W. Slocum led a group that acquired the paper and published it for the next 27 years. Decedent of a pioneering city family, John more than held his own. In addition to his Record presidency, he was a distinguished lawyer, judge, banker, and President of the NJ State Senate (in 1914). One of the city’s first prominent Democrats, upon his death in May 1938 Record publishers lauded Slocum for being a “moving figure in the city’s political, social and business development.”
The paper’s longest serving publisher-owners, father-son duo Edwin and Richard DeWitt, ran the daily for nearly 30 years. Upon taking ownership, Edwin pledged that those who sell Long Branch short would be “doomed to disappointment.” In print trade-talk the men had “ink in the veins.” Edwin (1874-1963), the son of rich NJ farmer, graduated from Princeton University in 1900. Well-trained and traveled in news and advertising, he acquired the Record in September 1929. He then made Richard (1902-1944) the editor-publisher; the son resigned in March 1941. The paper was sold in April 1957 to Herman Obermayer (1924-2016), who called the Record “a force for good in the community.” He died in May 2016.
The paper enjoyed both city- and county-wide clout. Bryant B. Newcomb, who served as Record Business Manager for over 30 years (retiring in 1940), was a wired Republican. The first Long Branch “city clerk” (1903 to 1912), Newcomb was also a city mayor (1912 to 1916). Another Chattle High School graduate, he was later elected to the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders (1918-1933) and was its Director for over a decade. He died in a Broadway auto accident in February 1945.
The paper’s longest serving Managing Editor — he called newspapers “realists” — was Houston Brown from 1930 to 1944. Other Record top editors through the years were: William Devereaux, Benjamin Bobbitt, George White, Guion Wilson, William Bowes, Chester Beaman, R. Barry Kamm, Dorothy Grosser, Wayne Eisenimann, Dudley Thomas and William Diehl. Sam Blackman, the reporter who scooped the world on the Lindbergh baby kidnapping in 1932 and later served as AP news director and president of the American Press Institute, got his start as a Record reporter.
As for the Record being the city’s “official newspaper” — in August 1915 the publishers offered that Long Branch history records were “scarce and fragmentary.” But upon the 50th anniversary of publication in July 1951, Record publishers claimed that its “files constitute a history of the community.”
For three-quarters of a century (from 1896 to 1971), newspaper operations were mostly run out of an 8,000-square-foot building on lower Broadway. The composing room — including a battery of linotype machines — was on the second floor of the Record building. William Embley served as pressman there for over 50 years. Circulation of the publication evolved from deliveries by Frisby Lawes on horse & wagon to seven modern delivery trucks. Carl Cohen was the paper’s longtime circulation director. Beginning in 1926 — rain or shine for 40 years — Charles “Cookie” Cook hawked newspapers on Broadway.
“The true newspaper concerns itself with the way things are and the way they ought to be.”
In the early 1920s, the Record sought to branch out. A Red Bank news bureau was opened in 1922 to cover that borough. A Freehold bureau was added in 1946 to cover Monmouth County government matters. The Bayshore bureau opened in 1960. In its prime, the newspaper claimed more than 20,000 daily readers.
In July 1961, the newspaper marked 60 years of publishing. From that issue’s Editorial Page came this noble decree: “Popularity and rightness are only compatible in rare cases. A good newspaper must both lead and follow. As a follower it must reflect the moods, enthusiasms and ambitions of the community. As a leader it must challenge the status quo, fight corruption, and propose new ideas for improved government, education and business.” At the time the city daily had a circulation of 10,500+.
The Record probably reached the height of its influence and esteem when the paper earned prestigious “General Excellence Awards” from the New Jersey Press Association in 1959, 1961 and 1962. Long Branch native Dorothy Grosser was managing editor during that remarkable publishing success. Her achievements are quite notable. When she became managing editor, women held less than 1% of those jobs at daily newspapers across the nation. Beginning as a Record copygirl in 1936, she rose through the journalism ranks and was made top editor in 1958.
She held the job — one of the city’s most respected — until April 1967. All while being a good wife and mother, too. This pioneering city newswomen, who trained generations of local reporters, was an advocate for newspapers all her professional life. In 1970, Dottie began editing at the Asbury Park Press and was remembered there as “integrity personified” upon her death in November 1984.
The final Record publisher was Walter Potter, Jr. of Virginia who bought the paper in June 1971. A third generation newspaperman and former National Newspaper Association president, he changed the paper’s format from broadsheet to tabloid. The paper struggled on and folded in October 1975. The final nail in the coffin was when the paper’s last editor and 40-year newsman, Joe Eschelbach, sat for network TV news interviews with NBC and CBS.
The city had long supported newspapers. According to George H. Moss, Jr., the late Monmouth County historian, Long Branch had at least 25 newspapers in its history.
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In July 1976, Michael Booth launched the Atlanticville, a lively weekly tabloid, a few doors from the old Record haunt on Broadway. The publication grew influential and popular — lasting for four decades. Along with partners, he sold the paper for $1.2 million to Greater Media, Inc. in 2001. It no longer publishes. Patty Booth O’Neill, Mike’s sister, launched The Link News in 2001. The city weekly printed until 2020 and is now digital.
Long Branch News and Times
Red Bank Register
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