12-31-05 | Printable Version

Bradley Family Builds Suburban Kansas City Cluster

The owners of the St. Joseph (MO) News-Press have assembled a significant weekly group in the Kansas City suburbs through a series of acquisitions over the past 18 months.

The new group, with total distribution of approximately 220,000, now ranks among the nation’s 20 largest non-daily suburban operations.

The publications serve some of the best parts of greater Kansas City, including the high-income areas of Johnson County, Kansas around Overland Park, and high-growth communities to the north and south of the city on the Missouri side. The publications also provide a seamless extension of the primary market area of the 37,000-circulation St. Joseph daily, owned by the Bradley family.

A division of News-Press & Gazette Co. added the latest piece at the end of 2005 – Sun Publications headquartered in Overland Park. The 10 weekly newspapers of Sun Publications, with combined weekly distribution of more than 150,000, provide important critical mass and coverage areas to the Bradley’s new Kansas City cluster.

About a year earlier, News-Press bought the newspaper division of Townsend Communications, four newspapers with combined distribution of 87,600 north and south of Kansas City. Separately the company bought three paid weeklies in more rural Miami County, Kansas, just south of the Sun Publications’ coverage area around Overland Park.

Sun Publications and the Townsend group overlapped in communities north of Kansas City. In this “Northland” area, the duplication has been eliminated and circulation expanded by 20% to create a larger coverage area.

Otherwise, the three acquisitions serve largely distinct, contiguous areas of the suburban Kansas City market.

The primary market of Sun Publications, founded in 1950, is Johnson County, Kansas, one of the most attractive suburban areas in the U.S.

Home to a relatively new world headquarters for Sprint Communications, Johnson County has ranked among the nation’s leaders in income per capita, household growth and job growth. Sun also publishes several niche publications.

Steve Rose, son of the founder of the Sun group, sold the publications to Lionheart Newspapers in 1998. The successor to Lionheart, American Community Newspapers LLC, sold the group to the Bradley family in order to focus on its other suburban newspaper operations.

The former Townsend group serves fast-growing Clay and Platte counties, Missouri north of Kansas City. This acquisition also brought the Liberty Tribune, northeast of Kansas City; and the Raytown Tribune, serving an affluent area south of Kansas City.

In addition to the daily in St. Joseph and the Kansas City group, News-Press & Gazette publishes the Atchison (KS) Globe and four weekly and twice-weekly newspapers in the region.

The company opened a new printing center in St. Joseph in 1998 with a 28-unit Goss Magnum press and other state-of-the-art equipment.

The privately held company is owned by families of Hank Bradley and David Bradley, who are brothers and the third generation to operate the business. A member of the fourth generation also is involved in the business.

In addition to newspapers, the company owns cable television systems, network-affiliated television stations, and Hispanic radio and television stations in Missouri and elsewhere in the western U.S.