Dawn Patrol: Steamboat Pilot & Today press crew makes sure there’s a paper 365 days a year
December 22, 2013
Steamboat Springs — In the nocturnal world of Jeremy Boyd, spaghetti for breakfast makes perfect sense.
Bedtime for Boyd is 11 a.m., and when he heads home to Hayden from his job in Steamboat Springs at about 7 a.m., a plate of pasta is what he often craves.
Boyd is one of two night supervisors in the press room of the Steamboat Pilot & Today. He works through the night Tuesday through Friday, making sure the newspaper is ready for delivery to news racks all across Steamboat Springs by 7 a.m.
Boyd has worked in the press room for 13 years and previously ran a press in Pittsburg, Kan.
"I work 9 to 5 just like you, only it's the other 9 to 5," he says, then checks himself because he works four 10-hour shifts. Boyd's hours are more like 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.
"It's just the opposite of most people," he says about his daily routine. "If it's 4 p.m. for you, it's 4 a.m. for me."
The three-day weekend makes it easier for Boyd to jolt his system every six days and revert back to daylight hours so he can spend quality time with his wife, Sondra, and his son, Alex, 8.
On workdays, he gets home from Steamboat in time to make breakfast for Alex before school. He often spends the midmorning playing Frisbee golf with friends in any month of the year. Other days, he might watch "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" — the lives of members of the graveyard club are enriched by TiVo.
By noon, Boyd's asleep in a bedroom with heavy curtains to keep out the light.
Monday is changeover day for Boyd. He reverts to his night owl schedule in order to adjust his internal clock so that he's ready to go at the printing plant, where Tuesdays often are the busiest night of the week. That's because the crew sometimes makes five different print runs that night, including one of the biggest Steamboat Today papers of the week. Some Tuesdays, there are two small newspapers, from Walden and Baggs, Wyo., to print. That's in addition to the Craig Daily Press and the sometimes two sections of the Wednesday edition of the Steamboat Today.
Arriving at work on the west side of Steamboat on a Tuesday evening in November, Boyd steps out onto the loading dock and lights up a Swisher Sweets Black cigar, a small indulgence at the beginning of a long night.
"It costs only 69 cents," he says.
The typical work night begins with attaching aluminum printing plates to the main cylinders on the offset press. The text, photographs and advertisements for four pages of the newspaper have been transferred onto each plate. When the press runs, the plates pick up the ink and impart the newspaper content onto larger rollers loaded with newsprint.
Next, the crew begins a test run, and Boyd masterfully tweaks the color.
His colleague, Anthony Mendolia, says Boyd is a wizard at adjusting color. Boyd hunches between two noisy press units and tweaks ink keys to get the color just right, pulls a freshly printed paper off the slowly running press and scrutinizes it under a magnifier, then goes back for more adjustments. He doesn't turn up the speed of the press until he's satisfied.
The press room crew's movements during a press run resemble a choreographed dance.
Boyd and Mendolia walk past each other and swap large tools without exchanging words or even a glance, anticipating what task the other will perform next. While they are doing that, a third man, Ross Boettcher, prepares the plates for the next press run.
"I think this crew (which includes a second night supervisor, Van Young, who works Friday through Monday nights) is the best we've ever had," longtime press room manager Dan Schuelke says.
On this particular night, the Baggs newspaper is first on press.
The press run for the Snake River Press, just 650 copies, is over almost as fast as it began.
"It takes longer to set up than it does to run," Mendolia observes.
Four days each week, the highest priority is to get the Craig Daily Press printed first so it can be loaded onto trucks for Craig by 4:30 a.m.
The completed Steamboat Today comes off the press by 2 to 2:30 a.m., when it is trundled in stacks on wooden carts to the mail room, where another shift of early risers on the circulation crew insert varying numbers of preprinted advertising inserts and prepare them for delivery.
Circulation manager Steve Balgenorth said the crew distributes 14,000 papers most weekdays and 20,000 on Saturdays for Craig and Steamboat combined.
When lunchtime arrives, Boyd never is without a paperback. Mendolia teases that Boyd is fond of romantic zombie comedies.
Boyd ignores the remark and laments the fact that there isn't a restaurant open on Steamboat's west side in the wee hours.
"We could use a 24-hour diner that serves lunch at 3 a.m.," he said.
On nights when there aren't so many press runs, the crew always is busy keeping its offset presses in tip-top shape. Their press room may be one of the cleanest you'll ever visit.
"There's plenty of maintenance to do every night," Boyd said. "We don't have many breakdowns."
And that's a good thing. Because the newspaper always comes out, 365 days per year.