South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Call celebrates its 25th anniversary of serving south county

After 25 years, Call continues to thrive both in print, online

This week, Call Publishing marks the 25th anniversary of the newspaper’s first issue — which almost didn’t happen.

After a technical upgrade gone wrong in August 1989, the Call’s computers corrupted and all of the new newspaper’s articles, advertisements and page layouts disappeared overnight.

Like the Call has every week for the last 25 years, however, the newspaper went out as scheduled, after three round-the-clock days of work. The Call now has a circulation ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 in a number of cities throughout south county, but it all began in Oakville: The first issue of the Oakville Call arrived in 13,000 mailboxes on Aug. 17, 1989.

“When everything is considered, it is fortunate we published at all,” wrote owner and then-Editor Bill Milligan, now the company’s general manager, in a column the following week. “Every story and advertisement that had been created had to be recreated over the course of a few days … The thought occurred to move publication back one week, but we had made promises we didn’t want to break.”

The company and its publications were named “Call” after the town criers of Colonial America — men who called out the news on street corners while ringing bells to gather an audience. Several of the first American newspapers also took on the “Call” name in their honor.

Oakville resident Milligan still owns the newspaper with his wife, publisher Deb Baker, who had worked in advertising for a free newspaper that was distributed on lawns and grew frustrated as she regularly saw the newspapers in wrappers go unread, not picked up for days.

She knew that people read what comes in their mail, however, and her journalism background and experience working in advertising for a direct-mail agency helped her develop the Call’s innovative — and effective — business model as a total-market, direct-mailed newspaper.

One of the earliest newspapermen was Benjamin Franklin, inventor of the U.S. Postal Service and pioneer of the direct-mail delivery that has made Call Publishing so successful.

Over the company’s decades in business, it has expanded to four weekly publications — the Oakville Call, Concord Call, SunCrest Call and Green Park Call — that are mailed to 50,000 homes and businesses in ZIP codes 63129, 63128, 63127, 63126 and part of 63123. Another 3,000 newspapers are distributed each week in stacks throughout south county and Columbia, Ill.

Baker said the newspaper’s success would not be possible without the company’s employees, who work in advertising, art, bookkeeping, circulation and news departments, or the Call’s loyal readers and advertisers, some of whom have read and placed ads in the Call for decades.

“As always, we appreciate the support readers and advertisers have provided through the Call’s 25-year history,” she said. “We look forward to serving you every week.”

The Mail Call, introduced in late 1999, nearly doubles the weekly mailed circulation, is published six times a year and mailed to regular readers and to households in Affton, Arnold and Lemay. It is one of the largest-circulation newspapers in Missouri.

The Welcome Call is a comprehensive community directory published once a year, and the Fall Sports Preview has been a tradition in south county for the entire 25-year history of the Call, with the 26th edition published next week.

Although the south county business community suffered during the Great Recession of a few years ago and is still recovering, the Call is thriving as a print newspaper in the digital age and is still around and reporting the news every week while other newspapers serving the area — both print and online — have folded.

Today, the Call is the only newspaper of its kind in south county, serving as both a traditional news source with extensive government, school, political and community coverage, in addition to free publication of news of record: birth, engagement, wedding and anniversary announcements and obituaries. The newspaper has won many awards from the Missouri Press Association for its advertising, its reporting and for its opinion columns, which are written by Executive Editor Mike Anthony.

Since those early days, the Call has moved from its original offices in Oakville to its longtime home in Green Park — which was not yet a city when the Call first started publishing. Over the years, the Call has extensively covered all the major events in the south county community, including the incorporation of Green Park, the attempted incorporation of South Pointe, the establishment of trash districts, the Fred Weber transfer station and everything before or since.

One of the major components of the Call is the newspaper’s award-winning website,


Although archives of the paper dating back to 1989 can be perused in the newspaper’s office or at state press archives, the easiest way to find out about anything that has happened in south county since 2003 is through the archives on the Call’s website, which are searchable, tagged by category and mobile-friendly.

During the recent Democratic primary election for county executive, for example, if a county resident wanted to read news from Charlie Dooley’s entire tenure as county executive, the only free newspaper archives they would have been able to find would be the Call’s.

These days, readers don’t have to wait until the Call arrives in their mailboxes on Thursday to find out what is happening in their community. The Call’s articles for the following Thursday’s issue are published online every Tuesday night, and readers can like Call Newspapers on Facebook or follow @stlcall on Twitter for breaking news articles and live meeting updates. The website is updated daily with crime news and other breaking news and web exclusives.

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