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The Weatherfield Recorder was a local free sheet and advertiser for the Weatherfield area which ran from the mid-1980s until 1990. Ken Barlow was the editor for most of its run, managing the paper in partnership with majority shareholder Bob Statham from 1983 to 1988 and then as its full owner until it was bought out by the Gazette in January 1990.
The Recorder's press baron before Ken was Pamela Mitchell. Pamela first crossed paths with Ken when she reported on a meeting at the Community Centre protesting against the new Graffiti Club in April 1983. As community development officer, Ken chaired the meeting. Despite support from the local residents, the protest failed to stop the club venture, but Pamela thought Ken put his views across well and asked him to write an article for the Recorder about any local interest issue. Ken chose to attack the council's inaction over the number of children run over Clifton Road, namely the promise of a footbridge which had not materialised. As Ken had no journalistic experience, his article was heavily edited by Pamela, much to his ire.
A few weeks later, Pamela decided to start an advice column and talked Ken into becoming the paper's Agony Uncle on a trial basis. They developed a close professional relationship, with Ken trusting Pamela enough to leak her a confidential report from the council proving that figures showing that Youth Clubs weren't being used were fabricated, as an excuse to close them. Pamela kept her source's identity secret, but Ken told his bosses himself and was forced to take voluntary redundancy.
In September, Pamela left the Recorder to run a newspaper in Nottingham and suggested that Ken see the free sheet's owner, Bob Statham, about replacing her. Running the show on his own and hating it, Bob offered Ken the job of editor as long as he bought into the paper. Eager for a new challenge, Ken bought a 40% share, spending all of his redundancy and his and Deirdre's savings to do so.
Ken started work immediately, working alongside ambitious secretary Sally Waterman. Bob Statham was rarely at the office, appearing only when when he had a clash with Ken. The first time this occurred was soon after Ken's arrival; having been waiting for a chance to get back at Mike Baldwin over his affair with Deirdre, Ken wrote a piece attacking Mike's Graffiti Club. Unaware of this, Mike had asked to take out more full-page advertisements, which Ken intended to turn down until Statham laid into him and told him to write a glowing article on the club, reminding him they were dependent on income from advertisers. Ken wrote a deliberately underwhelming piece which Statham also took issue with, forcing him to rewrite it, praising Mike's public spirit, calling him "The Debonair Dynamo of Denim". Ken realised that he couldn't use the paper for his personal crusades, and played it safer in future.
In January 1984, Sally interviewed Stan and Hilda Ogden when they made a compensation claim against the council when Stan stubbed his toe on a loose paving stone. Sally wanted to become a journalist and started writing articles for the paper, with Ken's support. Sally left the paper in February 1985 when she was offered a job writing for the Gazette. She and Ken parted on bad terms as Sally had got the position by giving the Gazette the story of Mavis Riley winning a second honeymoon with Modern Bride magazine for describing a fictitious first honeymoon, technically fulfilling her promise to Mavis that she wouldn't publish it in the Recorder but representing a breach of trust.
Sally's replacement, Janet Bamford, worked part-time and was content with secretarial duties. Ken's daughter Susan Barlow also came to work for the paper in November 1985 and left when she married Mike Baldwin.
In October 1986, due to a printing error, 43 readers won the Recorder's bingo prize of a trip for two up the Rhine. Ken held a raffle to determine the winner, with councillor Alf Roberts pulling out the winning card.
Bob Statham had cause to intervene in the running of the paper again in March 1987 when Alf complained to him about Ken using the Recorder to further his political career. Standing against Alf in the local council elections, Ken printed a load of letters slamming Alf on the letters page and cut Alf's rebuttal to a minimum. Ken refused to back down, but when a councillor withdrew their advertising from the paper, Statham came down on Ken and forced him to choose between his job and his campaign. After Ken dropped out of the election, Deirdre stood as an independent and beat Alf.
Clarion Group buyoutEdit
In February 1988, Statham told Ken he wanted out of the paper and offered his share for £30,000. Ken planned to buy using his £10,000 savings and raising the rest by mortgaging 1 Coronation Street, but he was beaten to the punch by the Clarion Group, a newspaper corporation owned by tycoon Nick Cavanagh, who offered Statham £25,000 and closed the deal. Cavanagh also offered to buy Ken's share, but Ken opted to remain with the paper and give the new arrangement a try.
Ken continued to manage the Recorder on a daily basis, although at Nick's insistence, the paper was moved into the Clarion Group's headquarters at Neptune House, Janet Bamford was fired as she had no desire to work full-time, and Nick's daughter Fiona was hired as Ken's assistant. With the Recorder now under the Clarion banner, Ken was given a company car with the company logo emblazoned on the side.
Ken's initial fear was that Nick Cavanagh would choose wall-to-wall advertisements and horoscopes over editorials, and that he'd put Fiona with him as a plant, but Fiona impressed him with her genuine desire to be a good journalist, even he had to adapt to her underhanded methods of getting advertisers onboard, such as lying to a shopkeeper about a new retailer opening in competition with her, and pretending to be a customer and telling them she saw their advert in the Recorder.
In June, Ken discovered that the Clarion Group was in financial trouble and Nick had disappeared. To settle his considerable debts, Nick had found a buyer for the group, and left in a panic when the deal fell through. In his absence, the receivers were called in, and the Clarion Group's headquarters were closed off. Ken's hopes were raised when Bob Statham informed him that Cavanagh had never paid for his share of the Recorder. The men saw the receivers and established that the paper was still theirs, but due to the office being locked up, they risked failing to get that week's paper out and losing their advertising. With Fiona's help, Ken broke into the office to get the paste-ups, saving the Recorder. Afterwards, Ken was able to knock Statham down to £20,000 for his share, suggesting that if he didn't accept it he could always find another Clarion Group.
After buying out Statham, Ken rented premises on Curzon Street and moved the Recorder there.
The Recorder's ruinEdit
In 1989, the Gazette started a free sheet. The damage to the Recorder was immediate, as there wasn't enough advertising in Weatherfield for two successful papers and, as the town's leading local daily, the Gazette had more money behind it and could run at a loss while it drummed up advertising.
Early victories over the Recorder's rival gave Ken confidence, but he was eager for an edge and in June he found it when council secretary Wendy Crozier, tired of the secrecy at the Town Hall, offered to leak him confidential plans which she felt were in the public's interest. The paper's first whistleblower article regarded the closure of a day nursery, and a further report concerned the possible usage of the Community Centre as a hostel for homeless youths. A witch-hunt ensued at the Town Hall, with Deirdre Barlow generally assumed to be Ken's mole. Ken felt that the hostel article vindicated her, as she'd been asked to leave the meeting where it was discussed due to her colleagues' lack of faith in her. Eventually, Ken told Deirdre the identity of his mole, believing that she wouldn't betray him by telling her bosses. However, when Ken broke his promise to her not to see Wendy again, Deirdre told council chief executive Peter Reynolds the truth, causing Wendy to lose her job for gross misconduct. Feeling responsible, Ken immediately offered Wendy a job with the Recorder.
In October, Ken started an affair with Wendy. To avoid the possibility of Deirdre walking in on them, Wendy decided to leave the Recorder. For Ken, whose heart had gone out of the battle against the Gazette free sheet, this allowed him to carry on his affair with Wendy while telling Deirdre he was working long hours at the office. In doing so, the paper went to ruin. Deirdre eventually confronted Ken about him and Wendy, having figured it out after piecing together several clues, one of which was advertiser Maurice Jones complaining to her that Ken was never at the office and passing on a rumour that the paper was sinking. Once the affair was out in the open, Deirdre threw Ken out of No.1 and he went to live with Wendy.
As 1990 began, Wendy returned to work for the Recorder to help a reinvigorated Ken get the paper back on track. The couple celebrated when Wendy secured a huge advertising deal with the council from under the Gazette's nose, but at this point Deirdre began hassling Ken and Wendy over the Recorder, claiming half of it was hers and she wanted Ken to buy her out. When Ted Lucas, editor of the Gazette, offered to buy the paper, Ken refused, but on his solicitor Rod Fielding's advice, he changed his mind and accepted, explaining to Wendy that by paying Deirdre off, he could avoid a messy separation and it was better to sell to the Gazette while the Recorder was still worth something.
Thereafter, the Recorder was absorbed by the Gazette and amalgamated with its free sheet.
- Bob Statham (Owner/co-owner, until 1988)
- Pamela Mitchell (Editor, until 1983)
- Sally Waterman (Secretary, until 1985)
- Ken Barlow (Owner/co-owner/editor, 1983-1990)
- Janet Bamford (Secretary, 1985-1988)
- Susan Barlow (Assistant, 1985-1986)
- Nick Cavanagh
- Fiona Cavanagh (Secretary, 1988-1989)
- Ian Knowles (Photographer, 1988)
- Mrs Turner (Secretary, 1989)
- Wendy Crozier (Secretary, 1989-1990)
Stories featuring Coronation Street residentsEdit
- A protest against the new Graffiti Club in Rosamund Street (April 1983).
- An article praising the club and its owner Mike Baldwin in particular. Written through gritted teeth by Ken Barlow (November 1983).
- Stan Ogden stubbing his toe on a paving stone (January 1984).
- A review of the food in the local pubs. The Rovers Return was criticised for serving rotten pies (March 1984).
- "Binman boffin spots UFO" A report on Curly Watts's sighting of a UFO with his telescope. Curly thought Sally Waterman's article was making fun of him, and she agreed to publish an account of what happened in his own words (June 1984).
- An article on council election candidate Deirdre Barlow's campaign for a crossing on Rosamund Street, where Gary Willis had recently been run over (May 1987).
- An article based on Curly Watts's damning report on Baldwin's Casuals, written for his college course. Mike Baldwin threatened to sue Ken over it, but backed down on the advice of his solicitor (September 1988).
- An interview with Mike over his sale of the factory to Maurice Jones and the question over which of the pair was responsible for the factory girls' redundancy (September 1989).
List of appearancesEdit
Curzon Street premises: