Rob Holbert and Ashley Toland with Lagniappe

Rob Holbert and Ashley Toland with Lagniappe

On this week’s podcast, Marcus sits down with Rob Holbert and Ashley Trice. From screen writing school to ghost writing, this duo has paved a hard-working entrepreneurial journey in Mobile, AL. Listen to this week’s episode to hear all about their journey to building the weekly publication, Lagniappe!


Rob: I'm Rob Holbert, with Lagniappe, one of the co-publishers.

Ashley: And I'm Ashley Trice with Lagniappe, the other publisher.

Marcus: Yay! Well, this is awesome, to have you guys on the podcast, 'cause I know we've been talking about this for a long time.

Ashley: We have, since you beat us.

Marcus: No, even before that. So what she's talking about, for those of you that aren't aware, we were all along with Harper Technology. We were finalists for the small business of the year award with the Mobile Chamber, because this podcast will live in perpetuity online. But we actually, in Blue Fish, ended up winning that award, much to my surprise. I honestly, I thought you guys were a shoe in.

Rob: Well, we all thought you were, and Harper was. We had ourselves kind of put third. So it was one of those things where you lose, but I was completely happy with it.

Marcus: [crosstalk 00:00:59]

Rob: Yeah, I was completely happy with it. It was just like, great, glad you guys did well. Everybody did well. It was fun. It was really a lot of fun.

Marcus: Yeah. But it was also, I really, absolutely enjoyed getting to know you guys through that process. We got to know each other so well, we started dressing alike. So, and the reference there is, if you look at the cover, both Rob and I were wearing the same jacket. We didn't plan that, it was something that just kind of happened. We know what Lagniappe is, we know what you all do. But why don't we go back in time, and why don't you take turns and kind of share with us the story of who you are. Did you grow up here in Mobile? Where did you go to high school? Did you go to college? Did you study english or journalism? Did you start working in the journalism trade, or, you know, give us some background. Ladies first.

Ashley: Well, I grew up in the sticks, in Jackson, Alabama, about an hour north of here. I came, made it to Mobile, 'cause I went to South Alabama. I graduated with a degree in communications. And then tried to find a job, which is hard to do when you're right out of college. So I was kind of drifting, decided I would go to screenwriting school. So I went to the University of Texas in Austin, spent a year doing that, and realized that was not what I wanted to do, either. But it proved to be a good move, in the sense that I really, I became a fan of their alternative paper, the Austin Chronicle.

Marcus: Nice. I'm familiar.

Ashley: And I came back to Mobile. Rob and I had mutual friends. He was teaching at South, and we started talking. Both of us were like, we can't believe there's not a paper like this in Mobile, it's such a big market to not have a paper. And that's sort of where we intersected.

Marcus: I hate to ask this, but what year was this?

Ashley: 2002.

Marcus: Okay, so not too long.

Ashley: Well, probably 2001 we started talking about it, so.

Marcus: Yeah.

Ashley: Our first issue was 2002.

Rob: Yeah, we worked on that for probably a good six months before we finally got one out. My background is, I grew up over in the saw grass in Gautier, Mississippi. And shoot over the sticks, I grew up in the marsh grass. I grew up in a small town over in Mississippi, Gautier. I went to school, Spring Hill, for college. Got my masters at Loyola. But I started out working over the Mississippi press in Pascagoula, out of college, and then subsequently, went back after I got my masters, and was there. And I ended up going to Capital Hill and working with Trent Lot who was, then, the senate majority leader. Sort of to get out of Gautier or get out of Pascagoula, I had gotten married, and for some strange reason, my wife didn't like Pascagoula and didn't wanna be there. And I had this idea that I would go there and learn about politics, et cetera, but I had always wanted to jump back into media. I just wanted to do it at a different level. I fell in love with opinion writing at an early age, and for some reason, they let me write a column when I was 22 over there. And I got stuck doing that, and I really loved it, and had this grandiose idea of being a syndicated columnist. And so that was the plan. I got up there and I ended up leaving Capital Hill, was a ghost writer for a while. I wrote for just about every big newspaper in the United States with somebody else's name on it. And then came back down here thinking, I'll come to Mobile, and I'll be hired by the press register, no problem. Surely, they'll want me. And they didn't. And so I kind of washed out of journalism at an early age, and was just stuck. I mean, I didn't have anywhere to go. I ended up working at Tony Roma's, the place for ribs.

Marcus: Nice.

Rob: And I was doing that for a little while. But I had a masters degree, ended up out at south as the advisor to the student newspaper. And so doing that, the Vanguard, the newspaper at South Alabama. And so I was teaching classes, as well. Ashley was taking one of my classes. We also knew each other through mutual friends, so I think that's kind of where she came in and said, "Will you come write a column for us?" And I said, sure, I'll write a column.

Ashley: It was gonna be named the Mobile Mirror at that point, I might add, too.

Rob: Yes, that was gonna be our original name, was the Mobile Mirror. And it eventually became pretty clear, we had a group of people that wanted to do stuff with it, and the only two people who were really serious were us. So we eventually said, let's just be partners on this thing.

Ashley: And let's rename it something no one can spell or say or know what it means.

Rob: Right, let's, yeah. That was a brilliant move as well. Everybody knows what Lagniappe means, right?

Ashley: I still have to spell it and say it to people who just call.

Marcus: For those that don't know, Lagniappe is ...

Rob: A little something extra. It's like when you get a box of donuts, and they give you a thirteenth one. They give you an extra.

Marcus: Or a couple of extra donut holes, or something sprinkled on top.

Rob: Yeah, yeah. And truth be told, we misspelled it on our mock ups for the first two weeks.

Ashley: Yeah. We had the ... it said [inaudible 00:06:19].

Rob: Yeah, we did. We transposed a letter. We did. It was bad. So yeah, that was the, portending things to come on that.

Marcus: So in 2001, 2002, I mean, journalism was still going strong. There really wasn't the emphasis on the web, and all that other stuff. I mean, it's ...

Ashley: Well, yeah. I was telling this story the other day. When we started all of the trade industry, we had a trade magazine call us. And they were like, why on earth would you be starting a newspaper at this time? Digital was just starting, but the big thing that was happening at that point were classifieds, had gone to Craigslist. So they had lost all of the-

Marcus: Which was a money maker for many newspapers.

Rob: It was a huge moneymaker.

Ashley: It was the second source of revenue, huge source of revenue. So we, well, we don't really have classifieds. So it's not a source of revenue. We don't really have any revenue at all, so.

Rob: Can't lose it when you don't have it.

Ashley: Exactly.

Rob: Did we mention that?

Ashley: Yeah, so in a way, it was advantageous, because we didn't have it to lose. We had to start thinking of other ways to make money. And it was in the traditional sense of display advertising. But yeah, so it was definitely a different time. But we were so small, we started out as a five thousand circulation biweekly. And we were really silly at first. We were both a bit younger, I mean, we had a hard hitting issue on Botox was the very first ... Yeah.

Rob: Yeah, we didn't really have a lot of news at all.

Ashley: Wrestling made it in.

Rob: Midget wrestling. I'm sorry, little person wrestling.

Ashley: Little person.

Marcus: No, back then, it was midget wrestling.

Ashley: Back then, it was. But I made this speech-

Marcus: We're more enlightened now.

Ashley: Yes. I made this speech just recently for a bunch of high school students, and I said midget wrestling, and they all looked at me as if I had just said ... I was like, I'm sorry. Sorry, little person. And they actually called themselves midget wrestlers. It was not trying to ...

Marcus: They did. Yes, it was not. It was not-

Rob: That's not PC, I guess. But yeah, it was one of those things. It's like, I think Ashley had five thousand dollars. I mean, it was really just-

Ashley: And a dream.

Rob: That's really what the paper was started with. And it was sort of, our first big purchase was, we went out and bought a boom box, a radio that we could listen to while we put the paper together. And cell phones to call each other. And so that was it. Those were really-

Marcus: Do you still have the boom box? Did you just say that?

Rob: Yeah, we do. Yeah. We still have it.

Marcus: Wow.

Rob: It's still there. But we just ... The concepts, if you asked both of us, we just, oh yeah, in two years, this thing is just gonna be making tons of money. Because this was the biggest city in the United States that we could find that did not have an alternative newspaper at that point. There was just, you looked around a city of this size, all of them had it.

Ashley: I mean, we wrote down all of the businesses. Oh, they'll definitely have, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

Rob: And a lot of them were like, oh yeah, make a paper, we're gonna advertise. And then, you know, when you made the paper, it was like, check back with us when you're here for a couple years.

Ashley: Yeah.

Rob: And we also, one of the things that was tough for us, there had been a publication that was kind of a ... It was just about food. But it was exactly the same size as us.

Ashley: It was a tabloid newspaper.

Rob: Tabloid. And they had gone around and done a bunch of buying ads, doing trade for ads was what they were doing. We'll give you an ad, you give us free food at your place, and give us stuff. So it turned out badly, and they ended up owing people money, and whatever else. Just didn't follow through. And when we came in, people were like, yeah, we've seen this kind of thing before.

Ashley: Yeah, you'll be gone in six months.

Rob: Yeah. So that was the, everybody was like, it'll be gone.

Ashley: At one point, I thought that was going to be true.

Rob: Many points I thought it was gonna be.

Ashley: But sixteen years later, here we are.

Marcus: So doesn't every business owner? So like our story isn't much different. Started in 2007, little bit later than you. But I mean, it was with a laptop and an idea. And my first website was $300 and a tattoo for David's Gallery. I'm currently looking for another tattoo artist to do a half sleeve. I'd like to get a half sleeve done. So if you're out there and you're a tattoo artist, and you need a website ...

Rob: Yeah, he's your guy. Here you go.

Marcus: Send your portfolio to So what was your ... Let's go back in time, though. Because we talked to people about their first jobs, and what lessons may have been learned from it. And I often give the example of, the proper way to mop a floor, or that there's paying attention. And the reason why I give that isn't just because there's the right way to mop the floor, but it's that there's detail in something as mundane as mopping the floor. And so what was each of yours first job? And I'm looking for the crap job, I'm not looking for the newspaper job.

Ashley: Well, I worked at Willy's Snow Cones in Jackson, Alabama.

Rob: I love that place.

Ashley: They were delicious, by the way. I learned to wear steel toed shoes when making snow cones, 'cause I-

Marcus: Steel toed shoes when making snow cones? Are they afraid that you're gonna like-

Ashley: Well, then, you have to get a 15 rectangular block of ice and load it into the snow cone machine, which I dropped on my foot. Had to have my toenail removed. It was ... So I guess I learned to be cautious in everything you're doing. But also, deliver delicious product at the same time.

Rob: My first job was teaching swim lessons to kids, I guess when I was about 14. And I don't know what we learned from that. You know, it was fun. Not to stand in a lot of urine, I guess, was the main thing. Because it was just a swimming pool full of kids all day long. You're teaching one class after another. But I wanted to work. I couldn't wait to get a job, because I'm the oldest of five, so we had ... I was out there pushing the lawnmower all the time and do that stuff, so it was kind of part of the deal, and I just was ready to go work. I wanted to make money and save up and buy a car.

Marcus: You know, I think I've been lying for about 120 episodes. I'm just sitting here realizing that my first job wasn't at the bagel bakery, and my first job was actually, 'cause Jim Nagy was the episode before you all, and he mentioned that he worked illegally, or what he thinks was illegally, at like 13, 14 years old for a fish restaurant. And so they had him fileting fish and stuff like that. And now that I'm thinking back about it, I had a warehouse job for a company that my dad worked for, and we actually took, I think they were Epson printers back in the day, when you couldn't go to Best Buy and every other place to get a printer. And we would remove the labels, and remove the barcode on the back, and replace them with the company branded information. And then they would sell them as their house brand. And I literally am just now remembering that.

Rob: I think you're passed the statute of limitations on that. You're okay.

Marcus: Is that okay?

Rob: Yeah.

Marcus: So I apologize to our listeners. That is hilarious. So you've already told us about how you started your business. Now do you remember going back to that very first issue where you thought, there's something to this. We've got it, we figured out what the recipe is. We figured out how to communicate effectively with the audience here in Mobile. 'Cause let's not sugar coat it, Mobile is a very, very unique market.

Rob: I would say, one of the things that sort of gave us an idea of that is, we actually did a prototype of the paper to show advertisers. And we got threats of lawsuits from the prototype, and I thought-

Marcus: Seriously?

Rob: Yeah. We really pissed somebody off on just the prototype coming along. And we were kind of like, well, people are fired up.

Ashley: We've already been threatened to be sued, and we haven't even-

Rob: Yeah, we've already been threatened to be sued, and we haven't even published yet. So that, to me, was one.

Ashley: Probably the biggest early on moment that I realized the power, just, I don't know, I still sometimes have trouble grasping this. But that people actually read what we write. I'm just a writer, so I just write because it's my craft. I don't actually think about people sitting around reading it. But we had, one of our very first cuisine editors. She was a tremendous writer, she still is a professional writer, I think, in Atlanta. And she was great. But she had a wicked tongue, and she reviewed a restaurant that's now out of business here. But the owner was ... I mean, it was tough. And it really had people talking. But he read that review on the same day that his restaurant burned to the ground.

Marcus: Ooh.

Ashley: And so he came into our office with soot and ash on his face to express his displeasure for it. So it kind of just made me realize, you know, that's not really answering your question-

Marcus: No, it is.

Ashley: But just the gravity of what we're doing, and it does matter.

Rob: I do think that issue was-

Marcus: There's some balance.

Rob: Oh, sorry.

Marcus: No, I don't mean to interrupt you, but-

Ashley: I mean, I think we learned this market may not be ready for that level of honesty. But I think we've tempered a little bit over the years, but I think we still remain true to that we want honest reviews, and we want honesty in the paper. But there's a way to do it.

Rob: Yeah. She was a classically trained chef, and she had lived, you know, I think she was from a much larger city. And she was used to much more brutal criticism, and-

Marcus: Baseball bat to the knees sort of thing?

Rob: Yeah. And you know, also, another part of that issue was our office was right next door to the guy's other restaurant. And so he came in, and he was furious. So it was kind of tough, that standpoint. But people started talking about us.

Ashley: I hid under the desk, I'm not gonna lie.

Rob: He was ... Oh, I'm gonna have you kicked out of this building, you're gonna never, I'm gonna do everything I can to make sure you guys never survive. But it didn't work out. But I think, that was a sign that, exactly what Ashley said, that it got a lot of people's attention, but it also kind of told us ... I mean, there was some things, I know when we started, we probably were a little more liberal with profanity in the paper and things like that, because newspapers like ours that were alternative newspapers at the time, you know, there's a lot of profanity in them and that kind of stuff. But we realized pretty quickly, Mobile doesn't go in for that as much. And it cheapens some of the writing, anyway, and it's really not-

Marcus: You should be able to make a point without it.

Rob: Yeah. And so, over time, for us, obviously, we have shifted dramatically from being an A&E paper, an arts and entertainment newspaper, to primarily, we think, being the newspaper for Mobile. That's what we think we are.

Marcus: You are. There's no other ... who else is there? I mean, there's not really another source. Unless you think to go to I mean, there's-

Ashley: We did not set out to be that. What they did is we evolved with the media landscape in this town. I thought, when we started, that we would do news, but we would be a more traditional A&E paper. And we slowly, over time, we were like, oh, this market needs investigative journalism., I mean, they have a couple reporters here, but their primary focus is Birmingham, and everyone knows that.

Marcus: They cover just a few local stories from politics, and that's about it.

Rob: But we don't really call ourselves an alternative paper anymore. We are a tabloid size, but we think that's really, honestly, where newspapers will end up going anyway. Most newspapers are gonna be that way. One of the things, when we started the paper, the one thing that Ashley and I looked at and said, where is this web thing going, and where are newspapers going, and what can you do? One thing that we both agreed on is that, you have to make sure that it's locally produced content. Content's gotta be great, and we gotta really produce it locally, because then it can't be reproduced on the web. You can't buy a bunch of stuff people are reading somewhere else, and have any effect. So everything we do, even our horoscopes, are written by the staff psychic. And we have just, everything is local. And we've kept it that way, because it is, we can tell, one of the things you can tell from looking at the web at that time, and even now, is you still have newspapers that can't figure out the fact that all their content, all that syndicated content they had, all those things, people have already read all that.

Marcus: Right.

Rob: And so you're not, all that world news coverage and things like that they're putting in the newspaper, they don't do as much of it anymore, but it's just filler at this point. Back in the day, it was actually important to have the news from the world in the newspaper, but it's not anymore. People go to the web for that stuff.

Marcus: Yeah. Too many sources for it.

Rob: Yeah.

Marcus: If you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, not a newspaper, just a business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?

Rob: Find a fantastic partner, if you can. That's great.

Ashley: Aw, thank you.

Rob: It's true. I mean, I think that's one of the biggest things that we've done that I look around and say ... I mean, we've been in business 16 years, and we get along great, and we very, it's so infrequent that we have any real-

Marcus: 16 years to be a partner with somebody. That's almost like a marriage.

Rob: Yeah, it is. It is.

Marcus: I don't know how you guys have done it.

Ashley: It is. I mean, we rarely ... I think we just have such a similar view on where we wanna go with the paper, and just our views on what we should be. But I think, because of that, on the rare times that we disagree, we know each other is serious. It means a lot to me if I'm arguing with this.

Rob: I mean, I say that because it is, it's such a load to carry to start a business. And it really is ... I think about, so many times, just how much more tired I would be if I didn't have a great partner I could trust to do things. I think I would've died a long time ago. It's just nice to be able to go out of town and know there's somebody there who is taking care of those things, and cares about it. And that's, you know how it is. It's tough just to be the only one.

Marcus: I'm gonna try to not start crying right now.

Rob: I think it's tough.

Marcus: The rest of the week that I've had, you know, is just like ... Yeah.

Rob: But I don't know very many business partnerships that last that long and work very well.

Ashley: Yeah. People don't generally ... You know, I'm gonna start stealing something. I mean, I have stolen several ... A couple of diet Cokes over the years.

Rob: A couple. Maybe probably about three to four thousand.

Ashley: Not that many. Maybe like 20.

Rob: It's a lot.

Ashley: I usually didn't.

Marcus: So what's the wisdom that you would impart? And it can't be find a great partner, 'cause that one's been taken.

Ashley: You know, I would just, on a really boring, practical sense, I really thought financing was gonna be a lot easier.

Rob: Oh, God.

Ashley: I was just stunned after we had been in business for a while, when neither of us have ... A lot of people are like, oh, they have rich relatives just backing this for them. That is not the case, I can assure you. And even after we had a proven track record, it was really difficult to get financing for a while. We finally had to have a bank that would take a chance on us. So I think building those sort of relationships, because especially what we have, and you're probably like this too. We don't have a warehouse full of widgets they can guarantee the land with, or whatever.

Marcus: I was always told to go and try and get financing prior to when you need it. And so very early on, the bank that I do most of my stuff with, which I'm not entirely thrilled with them, but they offered me a line of credit. And I was like, you know, I don't need it, but it's gonna cost me $200 a year, and if I ever need it, it's there, and it provides us with some runway if I need it. Now, granted, I've never used it. I think once, I used it just to see like, okay, well, what is this like? But it wasn't because I actually needed the money, I just ...

Rob: We've needed it. And what we always found, our problem was, every time we've needed it, we had a tough time getting it. And it did, it ended up being actually one of the big banks that said, yes, we'll give you a line of credit. Versus the small town banks you think are gonna really ... And it really was somebody at the big bank that said, we love your product, and we think it's important for Mobile. And that was huge. And that part is-

Ashley: That allowed us to go weekly, quite frankly. We were trying to get financing while we were going weekly.

Marcus: I would imagine that's a fairly large expense.

Ashley: Oh, it doubled our print bill. It doubled, you know, we had to get more reporters.

Marcus: Just out of curiosity, what does it cost to print the paper every week?

Rob: I'll tell you this. It's close to $400,000 a year. It's our second biggest expense.

Marcus: Damn.

Rob: Yeah. I mean, we'd love the web to work out.

Ashley: If anyone can figure that out now ...

Rob: That magic day when you see me driving down the road in a pink Cadillac, man, you'll know, hey, they figured the web out. It'll be-

Marcus: I appreciate your honesty. Because I mean, I'm often times curious, just what does that cost? 'Cause it is. And every place I go downtown, there's a stack of your papers. And I'm just like, that has got to ... We deal with some printing, but not at the level you guys do.

Rob: We do 30 thousand a week, now. And then we had this whole issue that president Trump did a tariff on newsprint from Canada earlier this year, and that's caused a massive increase on the print bill for every newspaper in the country. And that tariff was slapped down by the international trade commission, but the prices are still up. You know how it is. Once the price is up, they're not gonna come back down. So that's been tough. So that's a big challenge. And we were fortune. One thing for us is lightning strikes all the time for us. We get lucky a lot of times.

Ashley: Yeah, because I don't think that we're great visionaries by any stretch. I think like, oh, God, how have we looked into this? I can't believe this has happened again.

Rob: Yeah, there at times, I think. I think the smartest thing we ever did was to stick to, come up with a plan editorially, and stick with our plan to be excellent editorially, and do that the best we can. But Ashley met a guy one time who ended up being a true angel investor, and actually bought a small piece of the company, and gave us a good infusion of money that we needed. So those things over the years have just kind of come along and helped. But it's definitely ... There are lots of times that I look at it and I'm totally surprised that we're still doing this, and that we're still rolling along.

Marcus: Nice. Well, are there any books, podcasts, people, or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward? You've mentioned a couple, but maybe go to the books and organizations side of things.

Rob: Trying to think.

Marcus: You're writers, so you gotta be reading too, right?

Ashley: Well, everyone thinks that. Everyone thinks that if you're writer, that you read a lot.

Rob: You don't. Never read anything.

Ashley: Yeah, because you don't want the other people in your head.

Marcus: True, good point.

Ashley: So you know, I would say, as far ... I am a big newspaper reader, I'm not a big book reader, I will say.

Marcus: Sure.

Ashley: I read the New York Times, Washington Post, Wallstreet Journal. I like to read them all. Gosh, I sound like Sarah Palin. Would she say something like that? I read all of them.

Rob: I read all of them.

Ashley: I actually do read them. And I think just seeing a good template for what's good journalism has always been ...

Marcus: What the high quality of writing can be, yeah.

Rob: Yeah, I think that's the main thing for me, as well, is just looking at ... I'm charged up when I see other good writing. I'm sure that we've reinvented the wheel several times, because we haven't gone to a lot of seminars and things like that.

Ashley: Definitely should read more books on being a CFO kind of person.

Rob: Yeah, and probably, and I'm sure we've wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars doing stupid stuff because we probably should both sit down and read a few articles and know a little bit more about things.

Ashley: There's always so much to do, though. When is there time to do that?

Rob: There is. And I feel like this, for us, a lot of this is just gut and gut instinct and knowledge of the business. And that's having worked in the business, I mean, I've worked at a couple smaller papers. And being in DC, seeing some things with that, I think it's kind of ... I don't think this is the trickiest business in the world, in terms of managing to produce a good product.

Ashley: Well, if we were more money driven, that what destroyed newspapers. It is a business, yes. We have mouths to feed, and tuition bills, and mortgages and all that, like everyone else. But when big hedge fund greats are coming in and buying large newspapers, and they're slashing all of their staff, and that destroys the product. And I think, in a way, probably being a little dumb about ... I mean, not dumb, we're not idiots.

Rob: No.

Ashley: But not focusing on, oh, what's our Christmas bonus gonna be this year? I think that really probably kept the quality up, too, 'cause we really are in it for the passion.

Marcus: Reinvesting back in the business instead of trying to cash out.

Rob: I mean, traditionally, when you looked at newspapers, you looked at conglomerate owned newspapers, the profit is over ten percent. Sole ownership papers, you know, locally owned newspapers, usually, they're two or three percent. People put their own money back into the product, and try to keep the quality higher in a lot of cases. And so that's, I mean, I think that's one thing for us, is because we're able to ... I mean, I hope that we just continue to add quality in that regard, and make it a better newspaper from an editorial standpoint. So yes, it would be great to be able to read some things that would tell us how to do things in a better way, but there's so many naysayers at this point about the newspaper industry, there's nothing really to read that isn't, in a lot of ways, that isn't just telling you that you're done, you're cooked, it's over.

Marcus: Yeah, it's kind of hard to swallow that stuff. Why would you go out and seek that when it's already something-

Ashley: Well, it's for people who don't do it, either. They're like ...

Marcus: Easy question. How do you like to unwind?

Rob: I play guitar in a band. I enjoy that.

Marcus: Really?

Rob: Yeah. So that's one of my favorite things to do. I enjoy doing that stuff. And glass of wine every now and then.

Marcus: What's the name of the band?

Rob: Glass Joe.

Marcus: Glass Joe, right.

Rob: Remember who Glass Joe is?

Marcus: No idea.

Rob: Mike Tyson's punch out, the guy you beat up at first?

Marcus: Oh, yeah.

Rob: Yeah, that was a pretty clever name when we came up with it. Yeah. Been doing that for 20 years, so yeah.

Marcus: Very cool. What about you?

Ashley: Oh, gosh. You know, I have two little ... A six and a nine year old, so unwinding is not often. But I love to cook. So on the weekends, I'll usually spend half a day cooking stuff.

Marcus: Cooking, baking, or ...

Ashley: Not baking. I'm not a good baker for some reason, it makes me mad.

Marcus: It's too precise, probably.

Ashley: I guess.

Marcus: I like cooking as well, but I don't like baking, 'cause the precision takes all the fun out of it.

Ashley: Yeah, and I'm like, what am I doing wrong here? Why is this not moist? I followed the directions. You know, but ... No, I like doing Indian food one weekend, and then that kind of stuff.

Marcus: Nice. Well, tell people where they can find you.

Rob: You can find us about 1,500 different locations all over Mobile and Baldwin county.

Marcus: Sure.

Rob: Any of the regal purple boxes that we have now, and some of the old, hideous pink boxes that are remaining. And of course, online at is where we live on the web.

Marcus: Very good. Well, I wanna thank you again for coming on the podcast. Wrap up any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share.

Rob: The only thing I would say is that we do really take seriously what we do, and we think it's important for every city to have a good newspaper. I don't think there's a great city that doesn't have a great newspaper. And so that's our goal.

Marcus: I would agree. And that is why I thought you guys were gonna win. In all honesty, I did. I thought you guys were gonna win. Because I think so strongly about what it is that you all do, in spite of what is happening in your industry. So from all the Mobilians to you, I would just say keep it up.

Rob: Thank you.

Marcus: Because I know it's not easy, and we need a voice like what you all provide to keep the people in power honest.

Rob: Oh, it's a dream come true to be able to do this.

Ashley: Really.

Rob: I mean, it really is for me, as a guy who started out in newspaper. I know Ashley just, coming up with an idea one day and having it be this, 16 years later, is just-

Marcus: You're really just riding her coattails, let's be honest.

Rob: I have been, absolutely. That's what I mean. When you pick a good partner, you gotta pick somebody who can run ahead of you and do well.

Marcus: That's funny. What about you, anything you'd like to add?

Ashley: No, I would just echo that. And I would just say, I remember ... Okay, there is one book I remember seeing.

Marcus: Oh gosh, she's going back.

Ashley: Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow. So there is a book title. I remember picking it up, I didn't read it, but I thought the title was good. And it's true. Getting to write is a gift. There are so many people who call us every day that are like, "I'll do it for free, I just wanna write." And so being able to have a place for that is really a dream come true.

Marcus: That's cool. Well, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as business owners and entrepreneurs. It's been great talking to you.

Rob: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Ashley: Yeah. And congratulations again for beating us.

Rob: Yes.

Marcus: We're gonna take that snippet and put it in front.

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