The Washington Park Profile turns 40

A look back on four decades of serving the south Denver community

Posted 10/3/18

When I first started as editor of the Washington Park Profile in May, I knew it was a privilege to work at a paper with a legacy dating back 40 years. Going through our archives and looking at …

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The Washington Park Profile turns 40

A look back on four decades of serving the south Denver community

Posted

When I first started as editor of the Washington Park Profile in May, I knew it was a privilege to work at a paper with a legacy dating back 40 years. Going through our archives and looking at yellowed pages of decade-old issues shows not only a history of south Denver, but a history of journalism.

Jerry Healey and Ann Macari Healey, owners of Colorado Community Media (CCM), took over the Profile in May. Our first issue came out in July. As a company, CCM strives to be the local voice of the communities it covers. And that means continuing the tradition and mission of hyper-local news In south Denver.

“At CCM, it’s never strictly about dollars and cents, but rather connecting people and businesses in a way that no other medium can,” publisher Jerry Healey said. “That’s what the Profile has done so successfully since its inception, and it’s a legacy we will continue to carry on — binding our communities through storytelling of its people, places and issues.”

The beginning

The first issue of the Profile published in October 1978 with Deborah Brown, now Deborah Wiig, at the helm as owner and publisher. The pages had large typewriter-style font and all advertisements were hand-drawn. To top it off, the Profile was in black and white.

That October, the paper covered the first South Pearl Street Festival and an infestation of brown rats in Washington Park.

Over the months, the paper included columns on health and gardening. The December issue featured a list of businesses to encourage readers to shop local for the holidays.

A photo of geese first appeared behind the logo in February 1979. The bird that inhabits Wash Park is still a part of our logo today. The cover stories for the first three months of 1979 were about snow, a local doctor and the revitalization of Broadway.

Strengthening ties to the community

Though communities grow and change, the places in the city that tie us together remain. Nearly 40 years after staff wrote about the revitalization of Broadway, the Profile is featuring it again in this issue. This time around we cover how a high-demand retail market is impacting rent.

Paul Kashmann joined the paper a few months after its launch as a sales rep. Kashmann is now the District 6 councilmember in south Denver, which covers several neighborhoods going east from Washington Park, as well as Rosedale on the west side. Through nearly 40 years at the paper, Kashmann would also write stories and take photos and become its publisher and owner.

But he recalls the first few months were so rough he almost left the paper.

“I remember I made $17 my first month in commission,” he said.

Wiig persuaded him to stay on, tying Kashmann to what would become his career, spending most of his time as publisher, a position he assumed in 1983 when he bought the paper. Although he had written for his college paper, Kashmann said he was not trained as a journalist and neither were other staff members at the Profile.

By the Profile’s 10th birthday in 1988, the paper had added some color and began to have a layout similar to the modern newspapers of today.

“I think the Profile grew to be a really excellent paper,” Kashmann said.

By then, the Profile had added a team of writers, some of whom continue to write for the paper today such as columnist Diana Helper. Susan Dugan wrote profiles on south Denver residents. Denver historian Phil Goodstein wrote for the Profile for a while as well. The layout, and growth of the paper, was thanks to Tim Berland, who worked as a graphic artist for 20 years, Kashmann said.

Bringing in Eileen Abbattista as editor in 1995 helped strengthen the newspaper’s ties to the community it covered, Kashman said.

“She really informed the social conscience of the paper,” he said.

‘It’s so informative’

Ronnie Crawford, an Overland Park resident, first met Kashmann when he was working in advertising at the paper. Crawford owned a vintage store on South Broadway called Rudely Decadent He took out a 2-inch by 3-inch ad for his store, requesting a large variety of vintage items.

“Neighborhood newspapers were just such a boon,” he said. “It was a great resource to find old stuff that I could resell.”

In addition to finding things for his store, Crawford said he met a lot of interesting people through his advertisment.

At the time, Crawford lived at East First Avenue and Pearl Street, and the Profile covered a smaller area around the park. He could also only find copies of the paper in that area.

“I love it ‘cause I can find it in more and more places now,” he said.

Learning more about the community drove Kashmann at the Profile during his tenure there. During that time, the classified section could run up to three pages, Kashmann said. But the internet brought in competition and made it more difficult to continue getting that kind of revenue.

On the editorial side, the large south Denver community means there’s never a shortage of news to cover, Kashmann said. The monthly format also allowed Kashmann to do more research on pieces, giving readers a broader picture.

“The people who read the community papers value that style of journalism,” he said.

Kashmann continued to run the paper until 2015 when he was elected to the Denver City Council and he sold it to Jill and Jay Farschman. His decades at the Profile helped to give him a “to-the-bone” understanding of the community and what made it tick.

Crawford, too, says he learns a lot about the community by reading the Profile.

“It’s so informative,” he said. “I’m glad it’s here.” 

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