Suzanne Schlicht, who built the Steamboat Pilot & Today into one of the most recognized newspapers in the state, was named the Newspaper Person of the Year on Saturday by the Colorado Press Association.
Schlicht received the award during a luncheon at the annual Colorado Press Association Convention. The convention is held at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver.
"I am humbled and honored," Schlicht said. "I have been very fortunate to work for a great company, in a great community and with a great staff."
Schlicht was named publisher of the Steamboat Pilot & Today in 1991 when she was just 25. In 16 years at the helm of the newspaper, she has overseen a period of sustained growth. The newspaper's circulation, advertising lineage and news content have increased markedly during a period when many newspapers saw declines. The newspaper's staff has doubled in size.
"It's Suzanne's amazing retention of facts and information that often leaves a room full of people speechless," said Pilot & Today Publisher Bryna Larsen, who presented Schlicht with the award. "She has the most astute understanding of the happenings of our community and holds the content of the paper and the nuances of the stories in the highest regard. A true professional in every sense of the word, Suzanne is a wonderful example of one of the finest our industry has to offer."
Schlicht took the newspaper from a five-day daily and a separate weekly to a seven-day-a-week morning publication. She moved the newspaper from small offices downtown to a new 20,000-square-foot facility with a new printing press west of the downtown area. Under her direction, the newspaper has won numerous state and national awards. On multiple occasions, the Pilot & Today has been named the best overall newspaper in its circulation category by the CPA, the Inland Press Association and the Colorado Associated Press Editors and Reporters. On Saturday, the Pilot & Today again won the General Excellence Award from the CPA as the top newspaper with a circulation of less than 15,000.
During her tenure, the newspaper has branched on to the Internet with successful Web sites such as steamboatpilot.com, steamboathomefinder.com and exploresteamboat.com, and into magazines with At Home in Steamboat Springs, Yampa Valley Real Estate, VacationLand and Colorado Hunter.
"It is my belief the level of excellence of the individuals in an organization makes the difference between growth, vision and excitement versus those companies or organizations that merely float with the tide or tread water," said Dolph Simons Jr. of Lawrence, Kan., chairman of The World Co., which owns the Pilot & Today. "Anyone can buy a printing press and a roll of newsprint, but it is the individuals in a company that make the difference. This is why we are so fortunate to have Suzanne overseeing the Steamboat Pilot & Today, Steamboat Today, the Craig Daily Press
and the Hayden Valley
Today, Schlicht serves as the general manager and director of acquisitions for WorldWest LLC. Most recently, she led the newspaper's acquisition of Steamboat TV 18 and Winter Park TV 18 and is working to develop local television programming.
"This is really an award for our newspaper," said Schlicht, a past president of the CPA. "I am very proud of the work that we do, and it really is a privilege to work with such a great team.
"Coming to the CPA convention, I am reminded of the good work that newspapers do and the professionals I get the chance to work with at my newspaper and in the industry as a whole. It truly inspires me."