In 1872, one of America's leading weekly
independent newspapers was founded in the city of Newark--the Newark
It was the same year that James Gordon Bennett, one of the leading
journalists in American history died. As James Gordon Bennett had
introduced many landmark innovations in American journalism, so,
too, the new Newark Sunday Call would go on to create its own history
in the nearly three quarters of a century of its life.
The life of the Newark Sunday Call ended on November 17, 1946
when it suspended publication with a boxed
one of its final issue, written by Frederick W. Thorne, who had
been the Call's publisher since 1940.
Concurrent with the announcement of the suspension of publication
by the Sunday Call came an announcement from the six-day-a-week
Newark Evening News that it would begin a Newark Sunday News edition
starting on November 24th.
The reason for the suspension of publication, according to the
Call's publisher, was that revenues from a single weekly issue were
insufficient "to maintain a modern Sunday newspaper, whose
readers demand a bulky armful of entertainment and information."
The final edition of the Newark Sunday Call on November 17, 1946,
sold over 400,000 copies. The selling price was 12 cents.
The first edition of the Newark Sunday News, which followed on
Sunday, November 24th, too, was over 400,000. The transition form
The Newark Sunday Call to The Newark Sunday News was seamless1.
Its price was also 12 cents.
In the upper left-hand corner of the Editorial Page of the final
issue of the Sunday Call was a six paragraph announcement that opened
with "This is the last issue of the Newark Sunday Call."
The announcement appeared under a boldfaced heading "The
Sunday Call Suspends."
The suspension announcement stated that the Sunday Call had been
respected by New Jersey readers because it reported the news honestly,
and commented on it fairly and courageously.
It stated further "The same ideals are cherished by the Newark
Evening News which, on November 24th, will revive the Sunday edition
it discontinued in 1905."
The Sunday Call as a Newark Newspaper
At the time of its demise, the Sunday Call editorial approach
was unlike the two Newark dailies--the Newark Evening News and the
The Newark News had been likened to the staid New York Times and
had a largely upscale circulation as it endeavored to be a truly
state paper with bureaus or representatives throughout the state.
The Star-Ledger in that era had more of a blue-collar appeal and
had emerged from a seven-day-a-week sensationalist tabloid format
in the early 1930s when it competed with the two New York City tabloids.
It became a full-sized paper in 1939 when the Ledger bought the
What made the Sunday Call different from both Newark dailies was
that being a once a week paper, it could do its journalistic job
more leisurely, in greater depth, and with more completeness.
Where a daily might run a story that was incomplete, it could
continue with follow-up daily stories. But not so with the Sunday
Call. It had one shot at a story and tried to make it as complete
as possible, with quality reporting.
Having an entire week, the Sunday Call also had more feature stories,
longer news stories, and more pictures. Its quality reportage was
on a par with the Newark News.
Sunday Call stories took a more leisurely approach and focused
more on life and living and on community concerns than on fast-breaking
news happenings of the day.
Sunday Call Growth from Birth to Death
Although the Call had over 400,000 circulation, it had been unable
to obtain more newsprint for future growth in either circulation
of advertising, and with ever-mounting expenses, finally decided
to give up.
In its first year, 1872 -- the year before the world's first typewriter
came off the Remington assembly line -- the Sunday Call circulation
had reached only eleven hundred copies.
Call Ownership and Leadership Over the Years
Through three generations, ending in 1940, the Sunday Call was
served in various capacities by members of the Hunt family. The
first Hunt affiliated with the Call was Dr. Sanford B. Hunt in 1872,
the year the Call was founded by Frank F. Patterson.
William Talmadge Hunt acquired an interest in the Sunday Call
in 1885 and served as editor-in-chief from 1885 until 1916.
William T. Hunt's son, William S. Hunt, joined the Sunday Call
staff in 1903 and in 1917 became its managing editor.
On the death of G. Wismer Thorne in 1935, William S. Hunt succeeded
G. Wismer Thorne as president and publisher of the Sunday Call and
held that post until he died in 19402.
On William S. Hunt's death in 1940, he was succeeded as president
and publisher by Frederick W. Thorne who in November 1946 drafted
the announcement of the Call's suspension of publication.
The Sunday Call as a Radio Pioneer
First World Series Radio Broadcast:
In 1921, the first year of commercial radio broadcasting, The
Sunday Call made radio history by broadcasting a World Series baseball
game, the first such broadcast ever, from New York's Polo Grounds.
Here is how that first World Series radio broadcast was set up:
The Sunday Call sent a reporter to the Polo Grounds and there he
put the ongoing game, play by play, on a telegraph line to the Sunday
There the plays were handed to the Sunday Call sports editor, Gus
Falzer, who read them into a telephone line to the newly-established
broadcasting station of the Westinghouse Company at the corner of
Plane and Orange Streets. From there, the phone call was broadcast
over the air. Station WJZ was America's second licensed broadcasting
First Broadcast of Children's Stories:
In October 1921, the first month of Newark-area radio broadcasting,
children listening to radio station WJZ in Newark were told "The
radiophone, which is the wireless, has made it possible for the
Man in the Moon to talk to you" as the station began evening
readings by Sunday Call reporter Bill McNeary of short stories written
by Sunday Call staffer Josephine Lawrence.
In 1922, a collection of these "Man in the Moon Stories Told
Over the Radio-Phone was published in book form.
Some Distinguished Sunday Call Alumni3
Sylvester Southworth was the maternal great-grandfather of William
S. Hunt, Sunday Call publisher from 1935 until his death in 1940.
Southworth had joined the Sunday Call staff in 1903 after previously
working at James Gordon Bennett's New York Herald, a landmark paper
in the history of American journalism.
While Southworth had worked at the New York Herald, that paper
had introduced many newspaper publishing innovations which would
later guide Southworth at the Sunday Call. Among them was use of
the telegraph extensively in newspaper reportage, pictures to illustrate
news stories, financial news of Wall Street, and war and foreign
Edwar Stratemeyer was a Newark native that had written for the
Newark Sunday Call. By the time of his death on May 10, 1930, he
was hailed as father of a great literary empire that spanned 75
years, and that produced such best-selling series as The Rover Boys,
which Stratemeyer created and wrote; also the creation of such series
through his publishing organization (The Stratemeyer Syndicate)
of Tom Swift, Nance Drew, The Hardy Boys, and The Bobsy Twins.
Stratemeyer wrote The Rover Boys under the pen name of Arthur
W. Winfield. More than six million copies were sold of the original
Josephine Lawrence, who had started with the Sunday Call as editor
of the Call children's page in the 1930s and later went to the Newark
News from the Call, went on to become a leading writer of children's
books and, later, numerous adult novels. In her heyday as a book
author, she had been linked in popularity with such writers as Somerset
Maugham and John Steinbeck.
In a 1940 Chicago Tribune Books Supplement, the editor called
Josephine Lawrence "The chronicler of the commonplace, the
recorder of the ordinary and the mirror of the common people."
Her juvenile fiction was also published in book form by the Stratemeyer
Syndicate which was headed by her former Sunday Call colleague,
Robert Parker, whose career started as a staffer at the Sunday
Call, had been a foreign correspondent, a former director of the
Associated Press in Eastern Europe in pre-World War II, and during
World War II had served as Chief of the Office of War Information
for Eastern Europe.
He had joined the Sunday Call staff after graduating from Union
College in Schenectady, and later wrote for the New York Journal
before transferring to The Associate Press.