Off the Record

"GOOD MORNING! That's the red-letter warning that welcomed wary readers to The Seattle Times on March 6, 2000. Yup, that's the day The Seattle Times moved to mornings, ending a century of being the region's afternoon newspaper. From here on out, they'll be going headline to headline with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer..trying to steal away the coffee cup crowd.I'm not a happy subscriber.I've devoured the Seattle P-I We were a three-newspaper family back then. The Seattle P-I with Emmett Watson in the mornings, The Everett Herald and Cappy Dick in the evenings and The Arlington Times sandwiched in between. Life was simple in Snohomish County.Up until last week, my Island County newspaper life was also simple. I scanned The Boston Globe on-line in the early morning, The Seattle P-I an hour or so later, The Seattle Times in the early evening and The South Whidbey Record twice weekly.Everything was nice and neat. Then came the Seattle Switcheroo. Instead of hauling the P-I out of its orange tube at 6:30 a.m., I now have to pull The Seattle Times out, too. That's when the dilemma begins. Do I read both papers in the morning with my latte? Or maybe The P-I for breakfast and The Seattle Times for lunch? I've even tried saving The Times for later in the day, letting it lie dormant in its blue tube 'til 4 p.m. I thought I could trick myself into thinking it was still my afternoon newspaper. It didn't work. It was old news.By the end of my traumatic two-morning-newspaper week, I was mad as hell. Even more so after reading a Seattle Post-Intelligencer news story by national correspondent Joel Connelly, who reported that, like me, many Times readers are upset about the switch to mornings. The Timeshas responded by romancing its readers, wrote Connelly in The Seattle P-I. It has used direct mail, individual letters, a coupon package, and sent its writers out to coffee houses to talk with subscribers. A fine romance, indeed! What are we Whidbey readers, chopped tofu? I have yet to be wooed by the folks at The Times, nor have I received any direct mail, individual letters or coupon packages regarding the change. And as far as I know, Times columnist Jean Godden hasn't hosted a chat-a-thon with subscribers at Sapori Café in Langley. I decided to go to the top with my gripe, and called The Seattle Times The Timesto South Whidbey subscribers...including me. Often I'd meet Daryl out at my paper box on Saratoga Road, and we'd yak about this or that. Daryl, I'm really upset about The Seattle Times switching to mornings, I cried. It's ruining my life! OK, maybe that was a little dramatic, but Daryl was a good listener and sympathetic to my complaint. Come on Daryl, it's got to be awful for you getting up at the crack of dawn! Well, Daryl is a pretty laid-back kind of guy, and actually it hasn't upset his apple cart all that much. It's taken some adjustment, said Daryl, who chairs the board of the Island County-Stanwood Public Health and Safety Network when he's not stuffing papers into tubes. Daryl's schedule has drastically changed. He picks up his morning papers at Red Apple at 12:30 a.m. and delivers his route 'til 3:30 a.m. In a sense, this is better for me, said Daryl. It may increase my social life! He says the biggest thing about delivering in the dark (It's nice, and it's safer!) is that he'll miss listening to National Public Radio's All Things Considered every afternoon. Now he'll have to tune in from his house instead of his car.So what about input from the people at The P-I? I went to the top there, too, and contacted Frank Ploof of Freeland. Although known to most islanders as Dr. Ploof, Frank had a brief stint at The Seattle P-I in his younger years. I'm a former P-I paperboy, said the Langley dentist, obviously proud of his newspaper career. Frank delivered The P-I to subscribers in Tacoma's Stadium Way neighborhood. My mom claims she drove us, says Frank about his beloved mother Dorothy. But I remember riding my bike. Frank also recalls that his bike had no brakes, and he put his shoe on the tire to stop the two-wheeler on numerous occasions. I flew over the handlebars a couple of times, said Frank. No word on whether he ever missed any houses on his route.So what does Frank think about The Times going mornings? He didn't know it happened. Like a lot of us, Frank is a P-Ikind of guy. Contact Sue Frause by email at"

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