Jan. 5, 2019, is the 45th anniversary of the first issue of The Destin Log newspaper and our readers might be interested in just how this newspaper got started.
In this History Mystery, we will find out who started the then Destin Weekly Log, why they started it, and who the first editor was.
A desire to “find a small town to live in and raise our kids” was the seed that convinced Richard (Andy) and Marie Andrews to settle in Destin in the mid-1970s. The Andrews lived in Southeast Asia, where Richard was a Navy pilot. They came to Destin for a quick weekend. That Sunday they decided that Destin would be their new permanent home. By the next Tuesday they had bought some land and the day after that they had hired a contractor to build their new home.
They had never published a newspaper before. But they could see that Destin needed a local newspaper and decided to publish a giveaway or throwaway type newspaper. Their first challenge was to get enough advertisers to pay for their new enterprise. Andy and Marie went down the “strip” and talked to businesses. The local businesses liked the idea of a local newspaper and in no time they had lined up 30 businesses willing to advertise in Destin’s new local newspaper.
Neither Andy nor Marie had any media or printing experience either. They purchased printing equipment to publish a small magazine-type paper once a week. They called their newspaper the Destin Weekly Log and initially it was published on Saturday of each week out of their garage at 705 Sandpiper Circle.
Not only did Andy and Marie not have any printing or publishing experience, but they also lacked journalism and editing experience. That is where Ida (Calhoun) Burritt came to their rescue. Ida was the daughter of Destin’s first retiree and first realtor, Tyler Calhoun. Ida and her husband had retired to Destin and built a home on one of her father’s lots in the Moreno Point Subdivision. Ida had a lifetime of media experience and was so interested in Destin having its own newspaper that she offered to become the first editor of the Destin Weekly Log, and did it with no pay. She wrote and edited articles on an IBM Selectric typewriter, which was state of the art in 1974.
Initially, the newspaper was distributed by mail to all Star Route and Post Office box holders at no charge. Annual subscriptions were $10 for 52 issues. By September 1974, about 1,500 copies of the paper were printed each week. There were 100 paid subscribers and the remaining copies mailed to local residents at no charge.
That same month Jack and Carol Becklund visited Destin and noticed the newspaper. Jack and Carol lived in Milwaukee and had been in the advertising business for years. Jack and Carol decided to buy the printing side of the Destin Weekly Log business and returned to Milwaukee and sold their home. In November 1974, the Becklunds were back in Destin, and the Andrews, Becklunds, and June Walker formed a corporation called the Destin LOG and Destin Printing and Office Supply Company. They moved the business out of the Andrews garage to a storefront at 102 Marler Street and even sold office supplies for a time.
In 1975, more change came to the newspaper. The Log started to charge for each paper – 25 cents at first and by this time they had 275 paid subscribers. During 1975, June Walker and the original founders, the Andrews, sold their stake in the paper to Jack and Carol Becklund.
In 1976, the newspaper changed from a magazine format to a “tabloid-type” format and for the first time looked like a real newspaper. In mid-1979, the format was changed again to a broadsheet format, the format that exists today. In 1981, the Destin Weekly Log name was changed to The Destin Log as the newspaper went from a weekly newspaper to the twice-weekly format we know today.
The Destin Weekly Log shared a lot of news with the villagers of Destin. The first condominium, Silver Dunes, was completed in July 1973. The first bank broke ground in 1976. The Coast Guard was welcomed in 1977. The first major shopping center opened in 1982, a second two-lane bridge was constructed across East Pass, and the first traffic light was installed on U.S. Highway 98. Destin was growing and the Destin Weekly Log documented that growth, just as it continues to do today.
H. C. “Hank” Klein is a Destin historian, author, and speaker. He visits often and lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with his wife (the former Muriel Marler of Destin). Klein recently published two Destin history books - DESTIN’S Founding Father…The Untold Story of Leonard Destin and DESTIN Pioneer Settlers...A Land History of Destin, Florida from 1819-1940. Both can be obtained from Amazon.com, Tony Mennillo of Arturo Studios at 850/585-2909, The Destin History & Fishing Museum, Dewey Destin's Restaurants in Destin, the Magnolia Grill in Fort Walton Beach, and Sundog Books in Seaside. Klein can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.