Bill Schrader · 2016
For more than half a century, William “Bill” Schrader was the consummate Hoosier newsman. Dressed year-around in short-sleeved shirts and often over the years with a pipe clenched firmly in his teeth, Schrader was an enduring fixture in the South Bend-based Schurz Communications conglomerate where he first became employed in 1966.
As editor and associate publisher of the (Bloomington, Indiana) Herald-Telephone, Schrader, now 82, guided the publication to honors such as Indiana’s Blue Ribbon Daily Newspaper in 1975 and 1983, accolades bestowed by the Hoosier State Press Association.
And, he was instrumental in solidifying the reputation of the (Bedford, Indiana) Times-Mail as a competitive and well-managed community newspaper when he moved there in 1985 as the publication’s editor and general manager.
Even in “retirement,” Schrader continued to work as a consultant for Schurz Communications, and he oversaw the publication of a 32-page quarterly magazine for the company’s 3,500 employees situated across the country until 2014, when his health forced him to step aside.
Schrader, a native of Tuscola, Illinois, wasn’t always involved in the news side of the publication business. His first passion was sports reporting. While a college student at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Schrader was offered a job as sports editor of the Champaign News-Gazette in 1955, a position he held until 1963. From there, he went to the Sunday Courier-Press in Evansville, Indiana, and worked as the newspaper’s tri-state editor for three years.
It was there in 1966 that Schrader would receive a telephone call from an old Illinois acquaintance that would change his life and establish the future direction of his career. Schrader was contacted by Perry Stewart, the editor of the Herald-Telephone, who invited Schrader to join his staff as the publication’s sports editor. Schrader was quick to accept the offer, and he and his wife, Barbara, packed up their four children and moved northward to the college town where Indiana University is located. Schrader spent only one year as the sports editor and, when the managing editor slot opened up in 1967, he accepted willingly.
Schrader admits now that he was relieved that he did not have to continue to spend nights and weekends covering sporting events in and around the Bloomington community while his wife remained at home with the children. Schrader ascended to the editor’s position at the Herald-Telephone (now the Herald-Times) in 1971 and was appointed associate publisher of the newspaper at the same time. He held both jobs until 1985.
Under Schrader’s stewardship, the newspaper not only won the HSPA’s Blue Ribbon Award twice, but the publication in 1981 also won the Inland Press Association’s Editorial Excellence award in the 25,000 to 50,000 circulation category. The newspaper during this period also became the mecca of colorful sports reporting in Indiana as IU basketball coach Bob Knight brought his teams to national tournament prominence, and Bob Hammel, the Herald-Telephone’s sports editor and a 1997 Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame inductee, recorded the ascendancy for the Hoosier beloved. Hammel replaced Schrader on the sports staff when Schrader crossed over to the news side in 1967.
Schrader was not content as editor of the Herald-Telephone to merely observe and report on community affairs in Bloomington. He became a leader of many of the community’s civic and service organizations as well. Schrader served as president of the Bloomington YMCA board of directors and as president of the Monroe County Convention and Visitors Bureau. He was a member of the Monroe County Community School Corporation Foundation, served as the secretary of the Bloomington/Monroe County Progress Council and was a campaign chairman of the Monroe County United Way.
In 1985, Schrader was offered the position of general manager and editor of the Times-Mail, another Schurz publication, located in Bedford, about 20 miles south of Bloomington.
Robert Zaltsberg was named Schrader’s replacement at the Herald-Telephone, and he still leads the news side of the publication to this day.
“I replaced Bill as editor when he moved to our sister paper in Bedford, and I now understand very well his skillful leadership style, his creativity, his understanding of readers and the industry, his work ethic, his involvement in his community and his very high standards,” Zaltsberg noted recently. “For the last 31 years, I’ve tried to come close to meeting the high bar he set.”
Zaltsberg also saw first-hand Schrader’s willingness to stand up for journalism and free speech in the Bloomington community and elsewhere. “I’ll always remember the sign that hung in Bill’s office which said our job was to ‘Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.’ He was hard-nosed, but he was eager for the newspaper to seek solutions.”
After moving to Bedford, Schrader honed both his editorial and business skills for the next decade before retiring in 1995. While in Bedford, Schrader served as president of the South Central Education Association and of Bedford Revitalization Inc. He also participated in Leadership Lawrence County and was a member of the Lawrence County Community Foundation. In Bedford, where he and his wife continue to live, Schrader attends the Hillcrest Christian Church.
Schrader’s contributions to news and sports journalism in Indiana and in contiguous states haven’t gone unnoticed. In 1975, Schrader was named a media member of the Illinois High School Basketball Hall of Fame and, in 1995, then-Gov. Steven L. Beshear honored him as a Kentucky Colonel. In the same year, then-Gov. Evan Bayh of Indiana awarded Schrader the state’s top honor by naming him a Sagamore of the Wabash.
Schrader said that he is humbled by his induction into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.
“I am awed and pleased,” he said during a recent interview. “But I am also chagrined that the written word is no longer as valued as it was 30 years ago. Things have changed dramatically in the newspaper business. The migration toward digital seems to have altered everything.”
— by Terry English, board member