Program, Reception Celebrate 60th Anniversary of SoDak Sports

Sep 27, 2012, 14:48 ET from Al Neuharth Media Center

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Sept. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- SoDak Sports, the popular statewide weekly sports newspaper run by partners Al Neuharth and Bill Porter from 1952 to 1954, will mark its 60th anniversary with a public celebration and refreshments at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at its original office location, the Sid's Crown Liquor Store building in downtown Sioux Falls, S.D.

A permanent plaque detailing the creation and eventual failure of the publication will be unveiled on the storefront at 328 S. First Ave. South Dakota native and media icon Al Neuharth and others with connections to SoDak Sports will speak.

Following the program, Paul Damyan, president of Sid's Crown Liquor, will host a free reception honoring his late father-in-law, Sid Epstein, who opened the store 65 years ago and rented space to Neuharth and Porter.

The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, South Dakota Newspaper Association and the Al Neuharth Media Center at the University of South Dakota are co-sponsoring the commemoration as a tribute to the entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and risk-taking.

In a state that treats athletics seriously, South Dakota newspapers in the early 1950s did a good job with local sports coverage, but none was covering the whole state. Enter two recent graduates of the University of South Dakota who had worked together on the student newspaper, The Volante. Al Neuharth and Bill Porter launched SoDak Sports, a weekly newspaper dedicated to covering statewide sports in a new way. The newspaper was a hit with readers, but not with advertisers. Because of insufficient revenue, it folded in less than two years.

Broke but not broken, Neuharth and Porter went their separate ways and applied the lessons of a failed business to their future endeavors. "You can learn more from failure than success if you're paying attention," said Neuharth, 88, who now lives in Cocoa Beach, Fla.

Neuharth eventually became CEO of Gannett and transformed it into the nation's largest newspaper company. He later founded USA TODAY, the Freedom Forum and the Newseum. Bill Porter pursued a successful legal career, specializing as a defense attorney in medical malpractice, first in Chamberlain, S.D., and then Rapid City, S.D. He died in 2004 at age 78.

SOURCE Al Neuharth Media Center