The Fountain Hills Times is celebrating over 45 years as a valuable fixture in our community.
The founder, Alan Cruikshank, had always been involved in the field of marketing and publications. He worked for an ad agency that spanned several Western states. This led him to his involvement with McCulloch Properties, the original developer of Fountain Hills.
Alan moved with his family to Fountain Hills in 1980 and, with 2 other investors, started the Fountain Hills Times in 1974. From 1974 until 1981, the local weekly paper did not turn a profit. One investor dropped out just six months in. The second investor dropped out in 1981. But Alan saw potential in Fountain Hills and stuck with it, finally turning a profit in 1983.
Alan threw himself into the heart and soul of this new community in the Sonoran Desert. Prior to the Town’s incorporation in 1989, he acted like mayor of the community. He served as president of the Chamber of Commerce and attended all the ribbon cuttings. He was deeply involved in all aspects of community life, including showing up to events as an Elvis Presley impersonator.
Although the newspaper has won numerous awards over the years, Alan says that his greatest achievement was helping make the museum and library building a reality. He went to clubs around the community to make presentations and do fundraising. Voters ended up approving a $4.3 million bond to build the new joint facility.
Brent, Alan’s son, tells about a memory from his childhood. Alan was the Town’s Santa Claus for years, often flying into town on a helicopter. When Brent was 8 years old, he was sitting on Santa’s lap and noticed that Santa had the same watch as his dad and his arms were hairy just like his dad’s. He looked into Santa’s eyes, and they also looked like his dad’s. He asked, “Are you my dad?” He was promptly whisked away, and his mom told him, “Santa gets really busy sometimes and your dad gets to help him out.” Brent kept the new knowledge a secret and continued believing that Santa was real.
Today, Brent fills the role of Publisher following his dad’s retirement in 2017. His transition occurred during the Save Our Town campaign to adopt a primary property tax and a heated mayoral race. Prior to that, he had only been working with the paper’s advertising. His initiation into his new role was a “trial by fire”.
Brent has added some new features to the company. FH Social is a Facebook stream to promote local businesses on the website’s Home Page. He has ramped up The Time’s own social media presence to share news articles and the popular 4:30 News. A paywall was added to the website once visitors pass a certain threshold of free reading to help maintain the financial health of the newspaper.
Brent says that print still works well in Fountain Hills. In addition to the newspaper, they also print the Business & Residential Directory, Home Guide, Dining Guide, Worship Guide, and more.
In the age of misinformation, Fountain Hills’ various social media pages are not immune to fake news, assumptions, rumors, and misinformed statements from well-meaning residents. The newspaper employs professional reporters and journalists. They dig for the real facts and not just hearsay. They report real news and focus on keeping residents informed about what is happening in the community.
Like every business in this highly technical and digital world, they are re-examining their business model. But one thing will never change. They will continue to work hard to be a community-building resource.
Subscribe to the paper today at FHTimes.com or call 480-837-1925.