A Century of Excellence

Founded in 1919 as a community newspaper serving the Santa Clarita Valley in northern Los Angeles County, The Signal now celebrates its 100th anniversary as a thriving multimedia corporation offering nearly 280,000 residents a daily local newspaper, monthly and periodic topical magazines, and website for local news and information. 

February 7, 1919

A NEWSPAPER FOUNDED

“With this issue we unfurl the sails of The Newhall Signal upon the sea of journalism, and we hope that our efforts will be of service and benefit to the Newhall and Saugus valley area. In order to do our best, we must have the unbiased support and cooperation of the good citizens of these communities, and we are looking forward with perfect faith that this assistance will be extended to us.”

Edward H. Brown, The Signal’s First Editor

October 21, 1921

A NEW OUTLOOK

There were three different editorial regimes in the 1920s, starting with Edward Brown, founder of The Signal. Upon his death in 1920, his widow Blanche Brown took the reins and brought in Thornton Doelle as her assistant.

Doelle had published a few issues of a little paper called the “Saugus Enterprise.” No copies are known to exist today. When The Signal bought him out, this paper’s full name became “The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise.”

Blanche Brown’s newspaper was full of news; the society column ran on the front page, and Thornton, whose “real” job was with the Forest Service, wrote several columns and poems. In addition, they occasionally ran a column called “Peanut Pietro,” written totally in Mexican slang.

January 10, 1935

MOVING FORWARD

Patriotism ran high. In 1934, community leaders promised that the local Fourth of July celebration would be a “a wham, a Zow, and likewise a Knockout!”

By mid-decade, people were streaming into California in record numbers and The Signal’s world-consciousness was expanding. Local news still ran on the front page, but the interior pages often carried wire stories and photos of Japan, China, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. Ranch news disappeared altogether.

In Fall, 1938, The Signal took on a decidedly different look. The rather abrupt change was the result of a change in publishers, with F. W. Trueblood taking the helm. Church news moved to the back pages, as did Thatcher’s “Jin Jer Jar” column, quietly signaling the end of an era.

August 16, 1943

THE END OF A WAR

World War II dominated most people’s thoughts in the early ’40s.

In June, Fred Trueblood temporarily resigned as publisher to join the U.S. Navy civilian staff. His wife, Anne, and Mark Trueblood ran the paper in his absence.

By the time Fred returned in 1944, peace was in sight. Ads encouraged women to “dream of that brand new kitchen you can have after the war.”

The first major oil discovery was made in November, 1948, at the Sherman well. In the coming months, new wells would pop up all over Newhall, tapping into a large oil pool.
Business was good. New buildings were being built. New stores were opening regularly. The baby boom was getting under way.

The paper was growing, too. The weekly picture of a scantily clad starlet had been replaced with photos taken by Signal photographers of local people and local events. The front page carried news of oil discoveries and hog ranch debates.

January 10, 1952

A NEWSPAPER AND TOWN GROW

On May 2, 1963, after 25 years of The Signal flowing through his veins, Fred Trueblood II sold the paper to a printer named Ray Brooks. Brooks purchased The Signal as an investment and held it only six months before selling it to the man whose name would become synonymous with The Signal for the next quarter-century.

Scott Newhall introduced what you might call the “modern” Signal on Jan. 9, 1964. For the first time the paper carried a screaming eagle on its masthead with “Vigilance Forever” as its motto.

Newhall had been editor of the San Francisco Chronicle at a time when its rival, William Randolph Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner, dominated that city’s subscriber base. Before he left the Chronicle, Newhall had gone to war with Hearst — and won. Newhall took the Chronicle from number two in circulation to number one, much to Hearst’s chagrin.

“Scotty,” as his friends knew him, published the first Sunday edition of The Signal on Dec. 5, 1965. No longer was The Signal just a weekly. The following year the paper expanded to three times a week, publishing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

January 9, 1964

VIGILANCE FOREVER

On May 2, 1963, after 25 years of The Signal flowing through his veins, Fred Trueblood II sold the paper to a printer named Ray Brooks. Brooks purchased The Signal as an investment and held it only six months before selling it to the man whose name would become synonymous with The Signal for the next quarter-century.

Scott Newhall introduced what you might call the “modern” Signal on Jan. 9, 1964. For the first time the paper carried a screaming eagle on its masthead with “Vigilance Forever” as its motto.

Newhall had been editor of the San Francisco Chronicle at a time when its rival, William Randolph Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner, dominated that city’s subscriber base. Before he left the Chronicle, Newhall had gone to war with Hearst — and won. Newhall took the Chronicle from number two in circulation to number one, much to Hearst’s chagrin.

“Scotty,” as his friends knew him, published the first Sunday edition of The Signal on Dec. 5, 1965. No longer was The Signal just a weekly. The following year the paper expanded to three times a week, publishing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

November 29, 1972

A NEW VALLEY IN LA COUNTY

Every year, optimistic officials ritualistically declared that “by this time next year,” the various communities of the Santa Clarita Valley would finally come together under the flag of cityhood. It didn’t happen in the 1970s.

But the groundwork was laid. The 1970s saw the development of landmarks such as Magic Mountain, Castaic Lake, College of the Canyons, California Institute of the Arts and Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital — all of which were needed if the burgeoning population was to develop the economic and social infrastructure that would be necessary to support the establishment of local government.

With development came heightened sensitivity toward the environment by local residents.

The biggest political battle of the decade was the fight for home rule — not in the form of a city, but a county. Civic leaders fought to break away from Los Angeles County and establish “Canyon County,” a large, triangular area of land with Acton, Newhall and Gorman at the corners.

A small victory came in 1973 when the area was officially recognized by the county as the Santa Clarita Valley. Earlier, it had always been referred to as the “Newhall-Saugus area” or “Soledad Township.”

September 8, 1986

NEW CITY, NEW HOME

Growth. That’s the story of the Santa Clarita Valley in the 1980s. The population exploded with a vengeance. No longer was the SCV a rural backwater. Before the decade was out, civic leaders would get their coveted home rule.

The decade also saw The Signal blossom from thrice weekly into a full-fledged, seven-day-a-week publication.

The Newhalls — Scott and his wife, Ruth, and their son Tony — had sold the paper to publisher Charles Morris in 1978, but they stayed on to run the paper for another 10 years.

On Nov. 3, voters within the proposed city gave thumbs-up to cityhood. (The cityhood vote did not have to go before all voters in the county.) Local citizens simultaneously elected their first city council: businessman and school board member Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, book store owner and civic activist Jan Heidt, chamber of commerce executive director Jo Anne Darcy, high school teacher and COC board member Carl Boyer III, and retired fire fighter Dennis Koontz.

The Signal made strides of its own. In 1986 it moved from its longtime downtown Newhall location to the Morris Newspaper Corp.’s shiny new facility on Valencia’s Creekside Road, where a major auto mall had taken root.

January 18, 1994

SCV ROCKED TO ITS CORE

1992 brought the long-awaited Valencia Town Center mall, developed by The Newhall Land and Farming Co. It was just the first piece of a “town center” commercial development that would continue into the new millennium.

Also debuting in 1992 was Metrolink, the new commuter rail system, which opened for business in September.

On Oct. 26, 1992, Scott Newhall, the flamboyant former owner and editor of The Signal, died at age 78.

Entering 1993, the Santa Clarita Valley struggled through the worst financial problems, watched the crime rate increase and adjusted school schedules to year-round classes. The biggest issue for government was the lack of sufficient funds. The county lost an estimated 25 percent of its general fund to the state, which was attempting to cover its own shortfall, resulting in a scramble for what was left.

What was perhaps the biggest story of the decade broke at 4:31 a.m. Monday, Jan. 17, 1994, when a 6.7-magnitude earthquake, centered in Northridge, rocked the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys. Homes were destroyed and lives uprooted in the disaster, which would become the single most-covered event in Signal history.

January 24, 2007

A DIGITAL FUTURE

 2001 Ethel Nakutin is named Publisher.

In 2004 Richard Budman becomes publisher and minority owner bringing SCV This week to The Signal and making that the Sunday paper.

The Signal website continued to grow in the 2000s. Under the leadership of Publisher Richard Budman The Signal introduced video to The-Signal.com in 2004.

In 2005 the Signal introduced two bell-weather special sections that continue today.  The very popular Best Ofpoll which proclaims the best business in town according to a reader’s poll and The much acclaimed Top 51 Most Influential Peoplein Santa Clarita which lists and ranks the most influential people in town according to The Signal.

2009 The Signal debbuts The Signal e-edition.

December 1, 2013

TO THE NEXT 100 YEARS

February 2014 Russ Briley named publisher.

On January first, 2016 after owning the paper for more than thirty years Morris Multimedia sold the paper to Charles Champion, Gary Sproule and Russ Briley.

In 2016 after being located on Creekside road on the Santa Clarita Auto Road for 16 years The Signal moved to its current location in Center Pointe on Diamond Place.

On June seventh, 2018 The Signal was sold again to former Publisher Richard Budman and his wife Chris Budman.

On July 22, 2018 The Signal announced the return of the Sunday paper in the form of The Sunday Signal, a free publication distributed to 70,000 homes.

In February 2019, The Signal will be adding a video newscast to its lineup.