New owner, new publisher mean fresh chapter for HCN
At a time when many community newspapers have shut their doors or been forced by hedge fund owners to fill their pages with wire service stories, the Hood County News has been given new life — and a renewed commitment to covering all things local.
Under new owner Paul Hyde and publisher Sam Houston, that commitment includes more comprehensive coverage of the entire county with help from community correspondents.
Hyde, a longtime Hood County resident, is founder of the Hyde Law Firm and, more recently, the Hyde Media Group. The HCN was the Hyde Media Group’s first acquisition.
Hyde and former longtime publisher Jerry Tidwell began talking about a possible purchase in the spring, during the height of the pandemic.
Tidwell was part owner of the HCN, as was the Roberts Publishing Group and other shareholders. He retired in April as purchase negotiations were underway. He had served as the HCN’s publisher since 1979.
The HCN was long considered the flagship of the Roberts Publishing Group.
In recent years, awards for excellence in legal reporting from the Dallas Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas were added to honors the HCN routinely received from the North & East Texas Press Association, West Texas Press Association, Texas Press Association and National Newspaper Association.
Hyde said that at the time he began considering purchasing the HCN, he was wanting to enter into some type of business relationship with Houston. However, Houston, a former lawyer, was not interested in returning to the legal profession and joining Hyde’s law practice.
When Hyde asked Houston if he knew anything about the newspaper industry, Houston became intrigued by the challenge of helping a struggling community newspaper survive at a time when many are not.
“I understand how important a community newspaper can be to the people it serves,” Houston said. “It can help the town grow, come together and work together.”
Hyde said that when word leaked out that he was considering buying Hood County’s community newspaper and longest-running business, friends asked him if he was “crazy.”
He understood why they questioned his judgment. Many have predicted the demise of print media, even though many readers say they still prefer a newspaper they can hold rather than reading it on a mobile device.
Hyde said that he felt a responsibility to act to make sure that Hood County didn’t lose the newspaper that publishes “amazing stories” and has so much history in its archives.
“I still believe there is a place for a local newspaper in wonderful small towns like Granbury,” he said. “I still believe that the people of Hood County need and want a local newspaper that they can read to find out what is happening around Hood County, and see reports and pictures of what has happened here.”
For months, as sales negotiations continued between Hyde, Tidwell and other stakeholders, the newspaper was essentially in limbo, with no leader on site.
But then Houston arrived at the HCN’s offices on the morning of Tuesday, June 30 – his birthday. Even though he was not yet officially in charge and was not earning a salary, he began coming to the office every day, arriving before most of the employees.
For weeks he learned about the business, talked with employees and examined the books. He quickly found ways to save money and make money.
In July, some of the employees who had been laid off because of the pandemic’s effect on advertising revenues were rehired.
Houston also hired two new employees: an experienced graphic designer/photographer, and someone to handle the HCN’s social media accounts and its soon-tolaunch new website.
Working with the HCN’s advertising staff, Houston created more options for advertisers. New advertising packages include columnwriting opportunities, videos for the HCN’s website and Facebook page and podcast sponsorships.
By the time Hyde and Tidwell closed the deal on Aug. 13, the newsroom already had more staffers in cubicles, the presses were rolling more and the parking lot was fuller.
The ink was barely dry on the contract before Hyde abandoned his plans to remodel the HCN’s 14,000-square-foot building and relocate his growing law firm there to share space (but not the same entrance) with the HCN.
He had quickly realized that the new HCN would likely need every bit of that space.
Born in Denton in 1971, Hyde was 3 when his family moved to Granbury. He is the son of James F. Hyde, Jr. and Beverly Ruth Stacy, and the third of four children. (His older brother James III passed away in 2013.)
For a time, Beverly worked at the HCN as a staff writer. James was and still is a pilot. He owns the Hyde Flight School at Granbury Regional Airport.
Hyde played soccer for the Granbury Soccer Association and was active in Boy Scout Troop 353. He and his family attended Mambrino Baptist Church, where Beverly was the organist and the teacher for the children’s choir.
During the fifth grade, Hyde worked for Tidwell in the HCN’s insert room where advertising inserts are placed inside newspapers. He replaced older brother John after John no longer wanted the job. John had replaced James III.
James III was the only boy in the Hyde family that Tidwell officially hired.
Hyde attended schools in both Tolar and Granbury.
In 1985, his parents divorced.
In 1986, on his final day of ninth grade, Hyde moved to Grapevine to live with his mother and sister. He started 10th grade at Grapevine High School. He graduated from there in 1989 and enrolled at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Hyde had an interest in going to law school, but he also had an interest in playing guitars. He had learned to play the instrument while in high school.
In 1992, he joined the heavy metal band Criminal Insanity, which played at various clubs throughout the Metroplex and had already released an album.
After Hyde joined the band, the group signed a record deal with VIP Records and recorded a five-song EP (extended play) titled “Satan’s Castle,” which was released in early 1993. The EP sold out of the original printing of 1,000 copies, but after that the band decided to end their relationship with the record label.
The following year the band recorded a full-length album, “Demoralize,” under their own music company, JRC Productions. Hyde said it was released to “great reviews” within the local heavy metal media outlets and received a small amount of radio play on national radio station A-Rock as well as local radio station KEGL The Eagle.
The group disbanded in 1995.
During his association with Criminal Sanity, Hyde graduated from UTA with a bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice with a minor in sociology.
Instead of going to law school, he decided to work with his brother James in the relatively new industry of paintless dent repair. That work took him to France, Switzerland, Spain and Italy as well as throughout the United States.
He married in 1996 and later that year, in December, his first daughter, Lillian, was born.
In August 1999, Hyde started his own company, Hyde Dent Service, in Saginaw.
In 2000, Hyde and his wife divorced. That same year, he started a new venture, opening a Quiznos sub sandwich franchise.
In 2001, he moved back to Granbury and commuted to work.
Hyde sold the sub sandwich franchise in 2003, but the brief business venture led to him meeting Stephanie Hill. He proposed to her on the roof of the sandwich shop on Valentine’s Day 2002 after five months of dating.
In 2005, Hyde needed an attorney “for a small matter” and hired an old friend of his family, Richard Hattox. Hyde said that while they were waiting on some documents from the opposing party’s attorney, Hattox began telling him and Stephanie about how he pursued law as a second career.
As the couple was getting into their car to leave, Stephanie told her husband, “You need to go to law school.”
At the time, she was pregnant with their son Lucas, who is now 14.
At 35, Hyde was accepted into Texas Wesleyan School of Law (now Texas A&M University School of Law).
He attended law school at night and worked at his dent repair shop during the day. Hyde spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights sleeping at the shop but would drive home to Granbury after law classes on Thursday night, sometimes arriving home at 11 p.m.
On Friday mornings, the Hyde family would have breakfast together at the Firehouse Cafe or Cari’s, then Hyde would drive to work at his dent repair shop. At the end of the day he would return home for the weekend.
Hyde finished his first semester of law school ranked 12th out of 264 students – the top 5% of his class. He made the Dean’s List and was invited to join the international legal honor society of Phi Delta Phi.
While he was still in law school, Hyde and his wife welcomed their daughter, Brylea. She was born in June 2008.
Hyde graduated law school in December 2009.
Months later, Hyde was en route to repair a dinged Lexus when a check of his phone alerted him that bar exam results had been posted. He pulled over on Interstate 20 to check the list of those who had passed.
His name was on it.
Hyde phoned Stephanie and his father, then pulled back onto the highway to go repair the dinged Lexus.
The next morning, instead of dressing in his standard cargo shorts, T-shirt and ball cap, Hyde donned a suit and tie.
He went to county Courtat-Law Judge Vincent Messina’s office and asked if the judge would swear him in to practice law. He did not want to wait weeks for the big swearing-in ceremony in Austin.
Messina accommodated Hyde’s request but not before rounding up other lawyers at the Justice Center to have them witness the ceremony and introduce themselves to Hyde.
Ten minutes later, as Hyde sat observing the procedings in Messina’s courtroom, the judge gave him his first court appointed client.
That same day – May 5, 2010 – Hyde founded his law firm.
Today, the Hyde Law Firm has two locations: one in Granbury, the other in Round Rock.
The Granbury office boasts three other lawyers besides Hyde, two paralegals, one case manager, three file managers, one administrative assistant and an office manager.
The Round Rock location employs one manager and one administrative assistant.
Whether starting a law firm in his late 30s or buying a newspaper in a struggling industry as he approaches 50, Hyde said he has always been a risk taker.
“I do not take foolish chances, but I like taking calculated risks,” he said, adding that once he has made up his mind on a business decision, “I dive right in, without hesitation, and I never look back.”
Hyde said that he has always been inspired by this quote from Charles Augustus Lindbergh:
“What kind of man would live where there is no daring? I don’t believe in taking foolish chances, but nothing can be accomplished without taking any chance at all.”
Like Hyde, Houston has had more than one career. In fact, he’s had several.
Born in Kirskville, Missouri, Houston graduated in 1978 from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
While at that college he played basketball and was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity.
Houston went on to the Oklahoma City University School of Law, graduating in 1985. He was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar that same year.
During the years he practiced law, Houston focused primarily on general litigation and criminal defense, receiving the Oklahoma Courageous Advocate Award from the Oklahoma Bar Association in 1992 for his work on one of the most notorious murder cases in the history of Tillman County.
He was an active member of the Oklahoma Trial Lawyers Association and the Oklahoma Defense Lawyers Association. He served as president of the Stephens County Bar Association and as a presenter at numerous bar association continuing education classes.
In Texas, Houston served as a mediator for the courts in Cooke, Wise, Grayson and Montague counties, handling disputes from family law to complex personal injury and civil matters.
In 1995, Houston entered an entirely new arena – one involving horses. He began showing, breeding and raising American Quarterhorses.
The Houston Ranch served as a major breeding facility for performance horses and standing some of the leading sires in the cow horse industry.
During that time, Houston served on the board of directors of the National Reining Horse Association, the worldwide governing body of the sport of reining.
In that capacity he created and hosted the national television show “Inside Reining,” which received the coveted Vaquero Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for excellence in broadcasting.
Houston was also part of the broadcasting team for the first national television broadcast of the NRHA Futurity.
He was also a frequent guest host of “The Horseman’s Radio Weekly,” a national weekly radio program highlighting the people and products of the equine industry. The show aired on more than 200 stations nationwide.
Eventually, Houston turned his attention to yet another interest: the arts.
He wrote, directed and stars in a one-man show about his namesake, Sam Houston, a leader of the Texas Revolution who served as the first and third president of the Republic of Texas.
Houston has performed the show to rave reviews throughout Texas and frequently speaks to civic groups and organizations, appearing as “General Sam.”
During the past year he spoke at the Sam Houston Statue Visitors Center in Huntsville in celebration of its 25th birthday, and at the Sam Houston Museum at Sam Houston State University on Texas Independence Day, as well as the annual Chamber of Commerce banquet in Crockett.
Houston is a published author. He has written several articles for national publications, and is the author of “Texas Chili for the Soul – Who the Heck Needs Chicken Soup!,” a collection of short stories based on famous cowboy expressions.
His second book, “Tales from the Trail,” is almost ready to go to print.
Houston has promoted musical and entertainment events throughout Oklahoma and Texas, including the annual Big Texas Birthday Bash in Navasota.
His entertainment company, Lion of Texas Entertainment, has promoted and produced shows featuring both national and regional artists, as well as original shows created and produced by him.
Houston’s wife Teresa is a retired Granbury High School art teacher. She will be writing columns for the HCN that will focus on topics pertaining to cooking.
“Several years ago, I made Granbury my home,” Houston said. “And since that time I have worked in a variety of ways to improve the community. Being publisher of the Hood County News allows me the opportunity to do even more.”
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“I still believe there is a place for a local newspaper in wonderful small towns like Granbury. I still believe that the people of Hood County need and want a local newspaper.”
Owner, Hood County News