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They said we wouldn’t last 10 days …

Ten years ago I heard desperate appeals about local news.

The news report from the legacy dailies in Hendersonville and Asheville wasn’t cutting it, friends and acquaintances told me. You’ve got to do something about the news, they said.
What? I responded. Commit an ax murder? Stage a chemical fire on I-26? Propose a strip bar on Main Street?
I thought I was done with the Hendersonville news business back then. But the siren call eventually pulled me back. I dropped a consulting gig fixing broken newspapers for a chain of weeklies and came home for good. With the help of a supportive and savvy numbers guy, I wrote a business plan, recruited investors, organized an S corporation and an LLC and started the Hendersonville Lightning and

Although we had a built-in base of support, the pool of skeptics was far greater. They said we wouldn’t make it 10 days, 10 weeks or 10 months. We’re celebrating our ninth birthday right now, which means we’ve vaulted into our 10th year. This week's issue is Vol. X, No. 3.
Go-live of was April 24, 2012. We debuted the print issue on May 9, 2012, with a 60-point headline over our primary election coverage: “Voters fire O’Connor.”
The first issue was packed with news content and a fair amount of print advertising. I had been on the street covering local news for weeks before we had a print product to put it in. The friends and acquaintances who urged me to start the Lightning voted with their checkbook. We fairly soon reached a subscriber base of around 300 and we were in the black by November of our first year. We must be one of the only general news weeklies anywhere that can boast growth week over week, month over month and quarter over quarter for nine years.
All of the skeptics notwithstanding, I had an optimistic outlook about our prospects even as I launched a newspaper in the middle of a deep recession and after a thousand obits had already been inked about the craft. I wrote about that back in 2014, in a column under the headline, “Why I made the Lightning.”
“At a fundraising event back in March, a friend sat down next to me as I tried to balance a plate of hors d'oeuvres and a cup of beer,” I wrote back then. “The Lightning seemed to have become the newspaper people read, she told me. She went on to say lots of other nice things about the paper. Then she asked, ‘Are you surprised?’ Although I had never been asked that before, I answered instantly. No, I said. We're doing exactly what we said we would do, and it's working like I knew it would work. People want local news. If people see the Lightning, they like the Lightning and they want the Lightning.”
We’ve been lucky to have you, the reader, the essential part of a sustainable business model. We saw a surge in All-Access subscriptions (website and the weekly print product delivered by the U.S. mail) as the coronavirus lockdown started 14 months ago. We looked to see if renewals would run strong this spring. They did.
Now with the steady demise of corporate journalism, I’m getting more and more requests to publish more than one day a week. Distribution and cost challenges make that unlikely, unless we reach the point where there is no daily publication to serve Henderson County.
We’ve got other fish to fry in any event.
We’ve got exciting projects in the pipeline, we’re covering the pulse of politics and the local budget season, we’re birddogging how communities spend their American Recovery Plan largesse, fielding news tips and story ideas from readers.
I can’t recall whether someone asked me that cliché job interview question 10 years ago: What will Bill Moss and the Lightning be doing 10 years from now? But I would like to say that I would have responded with confidence that we’ll be right here, doing what we love. You must work a lot, people say. Easy response. I’m lucky in that regard. When you have a mission instead of a job, it’s not work.
So thank you for making the first nine years a rewarding and fulfilling adventure. As we march on toward double digits, I continue to be grateful for and humbled by the support you’ve given us with thoughtful praise, encouraging words and loyal readership.

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Reach editor Bill Moss at Click here to subscribe to the Lightning.