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While he had retired from The Oakland Press in 1995, McIntyre remained with Capital Cities/ABC until it was purchased by Disney. When he left the paper, Capital Cities/ABC replaced McIntyre with one of his former reporters, Dale Duncan, who left the paper in 1980 and returned as publisher in 1995.
"The paper didn't change much," Duncan said about his time as publisher until 1997. "We gained a lot of readers and advertisers during the (Detroit newspaper) strike, and hung on to them for a while, which made it very attractive to Shepherd when he came in and bought it."
It was in July 1995 when six different unions began striking at The Detroit News. The strike, which also involved unions at the Detroit Free Press, including The Newspaper Guild, the Teamsters, pressmen, printers and distribution, lasted through early 1997. While the papers continued to publish during the strike, both lost significant circulation that they never fully recovered. However, the strike provided a boost in circulation for The Oakland Press.
From 1991 to 1997, newspaper circulation at The Oakland Press reached its peak number, going from 75,457 daily circulation and 82,644 on Sunday, to 85,672 daily and 101,364 on Sunday. In 2000, the numbers remained higher than any year prior to 1997, with daily circulation at 79,184 and Sunday at 96,867, according to audits by the Alliance for Audited Media.
Just prior to closing on The Oakland Press in 1997, Shepherd received a call from a bank that owned The Macomb Daily, the Royal Oak Daily Tribune and The Shopper, in Utica, inquiring if he was interested in purchasing the group. Shepherd said he closed on that group of papers and the others from Disney on the same day. Shepherd operated the group of papers under his own company, 21st Century Publications.
In 1998, former Oakland Press editor Bill Thomas left the paper to become publisher of The Macomb Daily. He was replaced by Garry Gilbert, who worked for the paper until 2006, when he joined the faculty at Oakland University, where he currently serves as the director of the journalism department.
"We were doing quality work," Gilbert said, who said he started with a newsroom staff of about 90 people. Under his watch, the paper won the Michigan Paper of the Year award six times, and a public service award from the Michigan Press Association. "We used to go by the expression: we cover every leaf that falls in Oakland County."
During the time that Shepherd owned the papers, the editorial side of the paper remained largely unfettered....continued on page 11