Spokane North Notes
A weekly bulletin of the Spokane-North Rotary Club
February 29, 2016
Editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
Photo: Eric Johnson
Program coordinator: Brad Stark
          Wear walkin’ shoes: The March 7 meeting will be a walking tour of Kendall Yards – at least part of the fast growing West Spokane development.  Reserve your luncheon choice via e-mail with Sandy Fink a.s.a.p.  Members will meet by noon at the K-Yards information center at 1335 W. Summit Parkway.
          Is he Irish?: The third time was another charm for new member Joel San Nicolas, who has won the club’s weekly drawing three weeks in a row.  One more win and we may have to notify the IRS.
Free and weekly works for Inlander
          Continuing the club’s “media month” programming, Inlander Publisher Ted S. McGregor Jr. discussed his free weekly paper’s success and the current media landscape at the Feb. 29 meeting.
          Though print publications are suffering declines throughout the nation, the Inlander continues strong with 51,000 copies distributed in the Spokane, Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene areas.
          Spokane-native McGregor attended Gonzaga Prep, the University of Washington and got a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Missouri.
          Ted and his brother, Jeremy, now the general manager, started the Inlander Oct. 20, 1993, taking on a full range of local hot-button issues along with arts, dining and leisure activities.
          Times change and the media change, McGregor said.
          This week’s edition features a widely popular Inlander Restaurant Week, including a 56-page guide listing 104 dining options.  “Spokane has come a long ways,” he said.  “Ten years ago we didn’t have 104 good restaurants to put on our list.”
          McGregor admits that back in the early 1990s his paper’s model – free and weekly – “was a little weird.  Now it’s what the public wants.”
          He said the media mix has been “topsy-turvy the last seven years,” and rife with innovations and choices.  Nevertheless, despite on-line music programming, there still is radio.  Despite streaming of subscriber service television, there still are broadcast and cable stations.  And, despite the demise or downsizing of many newspapers and magazines, print journalism still carries on.
          “It was pretty exciting to see ‘Spotlight’ win (for best picture) at the Academy Awards,” McGregor said of the movie about the Boston Globe’s investigative reporting of the priest abuse scandals.
          “For some reason our size market, and being a little insulated, is good for us,” he said.
          McGregor’s civic side also is notable.
          As a youngster, Ted attended Expo ’74 and said he had become a critic of the lack of park improvements.  So the mayor asked him to lead the campaign for the bonds to improve Riverfront Park, which he calls a “neglected jewel.” The bonds drew a remarkable 70 percent approval.  And now  McGregor is a Spokane Park Board member.
          He marvels at the rapid growth of Kendall Yards, where the Inlander is headquartered.  As the population ages “and people don’t want to cut lawns any more,” housing in Kendall Yards “is going up as fast as they can build them,” McGregor said. 
          There also has rapid growth of apartments, he said, adding, “this is not the Spokane of 23 years ago.”
           He was asked whether Bridge Avenue in West Spokane is becoming “a moat” separating the new growth of Kendall Yards from the vintage craftsman-style residences in West Central.
           “It’s a delicate balance,” McGregor replied, between preserving property values of new construction and revitalizing older neighborhoods.  Indeed, a few years ago, the Kendall Yards developers told our club they very much opposed building a gated community separating the new and old areas.
          McGregor advocates more bridge-building amenities, such as a Kendall Yards library for West Central residents, including tutoring sessions for Holmes students and others.
          He laments that “Spokane is suffering from headquarter-itis,” the loss of key decision-making offices.  He cites Providence Health’s consolidation of decision-making in Renton as an example.
          Asked about plans for Riverfront Park development and its demographics, McGregor said “if you change it, you also will change who will come.”
          He said the Park Board and Parks staff are studying Balboa Park in San Diego, Portland’s Pioneer Square and the Seattle Center, among other venues, to see what works.  He envisions having a number of smaller attractions simultaneously, rather than more mega-events like Pig Out and Hoopfest.
          In his paper, McGregor writes often about politics.  He says the two major parties “misjudged the unease” of the electorate this year.  “Maybe the parties are irrelevant,” he said.  “George Washington was not a big fan of parties.”
          Of his paper’s publishing strategies, McGregor said he likes to “temper big topics with Restaurant Week. Of the big topics, he adds, “Just don’t leave me with despair.  We want no total bummer stories in our paper.”