From breaking news to heartfelt community stories, The Signal has covered the Santa Clarita Valley from behind the spotlight for decades. On Tuesday, the cameras turned to The Mighty Signal in a celebration of the newspaper’s 100th anniversary, hosted by the Valley Industry Association.
“The Signal gives us a voice and we need that within our community,” said Teresa Todd, chairwoman of VIA, which made the newspaper’s centennial the focus of its February luncheon.
More than 200 attendees of the event, held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia, gave a standing ovation as Richard Budman, Signal owner and publisher, as well as Signal notables from the past, shared their recollections of the newspaper’s history since the paper’s founding Feb. 7, 1919.
Before a panel discussion on some of the most memorable moments, Budman received special recognition from dignitaries, such as Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean, L.A. County Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger and state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita.
Barger, who presented Budman with a proclamation recognizing the paper’s anniversary, said:
“You make me a better supervisor. When I pick up the paper, this paper really is the mirror of this area. What happens in Santa Clarita, whether it be a dedication of the Senior Center, a chase on the I-5 freeway, the opening of a children’s center, working toward pressing the homeless issue, which people don’t want to talk about but your paper covered the (issue), was incredible, as well as talking about the opioid crisis. You are the voice of this community.”
Humbled by the recognition, Budman credited all the work to “the group of hardworking professionals dedicated to telling the story of this valley.”
The Signal was established before today’s readers were born, but through documentary work by SCVTV, attendees were given a preview of the paper’s story as told in a 40-plus-minute video, which is available at scvtv.com and signalscv.com.
But perhaps just as informative was the panel with Budman and former editors, publishers and writers such as John Boston, Will Fleet, Tony Newhall and Leon Worden.
Moderated by Ed Masterson of SOS Entertainment, panelists shared stories they believed struck the most emotional notes for them during their time at The Signal.
Newhall, who helped run the newspaper with his family in the 1960s and 1970s, highlighted the Newhall Incident. The April 6, 1970, incident left four California Highway Patrol officers dead from a shootout between them and two heavily armed criminals. He said the community came together during this time.
Boston said the roundup of supplies by local churches to those in need during the Watts riots, which lasted for six days and resulted in millions of dollars’ worth of property damage during the Civil Rights era, was one of the most touching moments.
Without hesitating, Fleet brought up the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The 6.7-magnitude temblor damaged The Signal’s printing presses and computers, but the staff at the time were determined to get a paper out the next day. Through a partnership with the Antelope Valley Press, the newspaper teams worked tirelessly to bring special coverage with limited resources.
Budman chose a memory that, although it did not directly affect the SCV, it was an instance in which the community put all hands on deck to make a difference. As a result of an estimated $81 billion in damage during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, The Signal coordinated the collection of funds for families affected by the hurricane. Thousands of dollars were collected, he said.
Through the years and through its reporting, The Signal has “brought life to the Santa Clarita Valley and we look forward, really, to the next chapters,” said Todd.