Featured Content / Granite Views

We’re 20!

Twenty years ago Hippo published its first print issue — that’s about 1,040 issues ago. At the time, we had an idea of what we wanted to do — publish a weekly paper that covered Manchester’s food, arts, entertainment, culture and news. Central to that plan was to create a quality publication that we gave away.

Hippo started as a blog in the late winter of 2000 as a way for me, a reporter for the Union Leader at the time, to write those stories that didn’t fit a daily newspaper. As I recruited fellow reporters to write for it, it became more like a local Huffington Post of its day. It didn’t really have an editorial vision or focus. We just did it for fun.

That started to change in the spring of 2000 when Dan Szczesny, also a reporter at the Union Leader, joined me. He would edit the zine and I would try to figure out how to make it something that we could do for a living. Back then (and even now, locally) that meant publishing in print. Dan and I didn’t have much money between us so we needed a partner who could finance us. Former gubernatorial candidate and radio host at the time Arnie Arnesen suggested I speak with Jeff Rapsis, a former publisher of “Little” papers, a group of weekly newspapers outside Manchester owned by Nackey Loeb. He was also a former reporter for the Union Leader, Keene Sentinel and Claremont Eagle Times. It turned out Jeff and I had worked for the Keene Sentinel 10 years apart. Jeff took a chance on Dan and me and invested in our vision for an arts and entertainment weekly. The three of us formed a partnership that exists to this day.

In the fall of 2000 we began assembling a group of volunteers, many our friends, who would help write and deliver Hippo in our first year. As we started putting that first issue together in late December 2000, businesses, events and nonprofits stepped up to advertise. We would not have survived that first year without all of that support.

Twenty years later, in the midst of a pandemic, we’re still here, though we now cover all of central southern New Hampshire, and are still extremely lucky to get financial support from our readers and local nonprofits and businesses. That support enables us to continue to be New Hampshire’s largest publication, the state’s only arts and entertainment weekly and one the few remaining in New England. Thank you all. We’re very grateful to have your continued support.

This week, I want to offer an inside look at Hippo’s first year publishing, 2001, and at this past year, 2020 — our two most challenging years. What follows are my recollections, with excerpts from recollections of other people who were there for those two years.

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