Down East 2013 ©
How can I miss you if you won’t go away: MaineToday Media’s soon-to-be-ex-CEO Richard Connor wrote what appears to be his last column  for the Maine Sunday Telegram on Oct. 30. In it, Connor announced that in spite of his unceremonious ouster  last week from his newspaper companies in Maine and Pennsylvania, he’s planning to remain involved in journalism for the foreseeable future.
“I’ve been in the media business for 40 years,” he wrote, “and intend to be in it for at least another 20.”
After some self-serving blather about all he’s accomplished at MaineToday, Connor concludes with this: “What comes next for me will be to continue to devote my efforts to journalism, fairness in reporting, and the challenge we all face of building a solid digital business foundation for this industry.”
I’m at a loss as to what Connor thinks he’s done for journalism (other than keeping the Portland Press Herald from folding, at least for now) or fairness in reporting (has he forgotten his outrageous grandstanding  for Eliot Cutler’s gubernatorial campaign, allowing his bias to leak from the editorial page to the news section ?)
But whatever his accomplishments, it appears they’ll involve what he called “smaller regional newspapers and websites,” both of which he believes have “bright futures.”
Does that mean he’s buying the Portland Daily Sun?
Connor was far more explicit in his comments  to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Connor used to be that paper’s publisher and still owns a business publication in that Texas city).
"I’m looking at newspapers almost as we speak," he said. "I’m going to buy something else.”
Connor added that he intended to remain an investor in MaineToday, depending on “how they run the company.”
Speaking of running the company: Connor’s competition in Pennsylvania, the Scranton-based Citizens’ Voice, did as fine job reporting on his ouster , including uncovering a revealing fact about the business arrangement between Connor’s companies in Maine and the Keystone State. According to Voice staff writers Boris Krawczeniuk and Erin Nissley, the two operations have “shared resources since 2009.”
Some of that has been public for a long time. Both chains are partially owned by HM Capital Partners LLC, a private equity company based in Dallas. In addition to Connor, they shared other top executives and a Washington correspondent.
But there’s more, according to the Voice: “Almost immediately after the Maine purchase, the two organizations began to share resources, even though they are separate corporate entities. The Maine newspapers paid a management fee to the Wilkes-Barre Publishing Co., The Times Leader's owner.”
That seems significant, because according to sources inside and outside of the company one of the reasons for Connor’s ouster was the way expenses were allocated between the two companies, with some MaineToday board members charging that their company was covering costs that should have been charged to the Pennsylvania operation.
There’s some indication that the management overlap and the fee payments made it more difficult to monitor the financial transactions within Connor’s media empire.
Low-power loss: North East Radio Watch is reporting that low-power WJZF  (97.1 FM) in Standish may be facing big changes in the wake of the Oct. 21 death of its founder , Dave Patterson at age 64. The community station,started by Patterson in 2005, operates from his house and had recently agreed to share some of its programming with Westbrook-based WRKJ (88.5 FM), a religious station owned by Word Radio Educational Foundation. It’s not clear how Patterson’s death will affect those plans.
Two-bit publications: Newspapers that only cost a quarter are a rarity these days, but it’s not certain readers of the recently merged Highlands Journal-Somerset Times  will regard that cover price as a bargain. That’s because until last week, the weekly paper, which covers Piscataquis and Somerset counties, was distributed for free.
According to the Maine Press Association’s email newsletter (not available online), publisher Bob Pushard said the change to paid circulation was necessary because of increased expenses. His company’s other publication, the Citizen Journal in Bangor, will remain free for the time being.
Help wanted: As is often the case, the definitive commentary on Connor’s resignation and the search for his replacement comes from the snarky Sardine Report  in a piece headlined “Press Herald to Hire Somebody for a Change.”
Al Diamon can be emailed at email@example.com .