The Free Lance–Star
|Owner||The Free Lance–Star Publishing Company|
|Publisher||Nicholas J. Cadwallender 
Florence C. Barnick
|Founded||Jan. 27, 1885|
|Headquarters||Fredericksburg, Virginia, United States|
|Official website||http://www.fredericksburg.com http://www.freelancestar.com http://printinnovators.com|
The Free Lance–Star is the principal daily newspaper distributed throughout Fredericksburg, Virginia, United States, with a circulation area including the city of Fredericksburg and all or parts of the counties of Spotsylvania, Stafford, King George, Caroline, Culpeper, Fauquier, Louisa, Orange, Prince William and Westmoreland.
The Free Lance was first published on January 27, 1885, when a group of local merchants created the paper to serve the news and advertising needs of the community. A one-year subscription that very first year cost $1.50. In 1900, the Free Lance operation merged with its competitor, The Fredericksburg Daily Star. The two papers continued to be published separately until 1926 when, under the leadership of Josiah P. Rowe Jr., they were combined into The Free Lance–Star, a single newspaper published 6 days a week.
The paper has occupied two addresses in its history. It was founded in 1885 as a twice-weekly publication by Col. John W. Woltz and William E. Bradley from their offices at 303 William St in Fredericksburg. In 1965 the newspaper, owned and operated by members of the same family since 1926 moved to its current location at 616 Amelia Street. Charles and Josiah Rowe inherited the paper from their father in 1949, and in 1997, upon Charles’ retirement, the family of Josiah P. Rowe III purchased total ownership of the business.
Josiah Rowe announced his retirement in October 2010, and Nicholas J. Cadwallender was named publisher. Rowe will serve as publisher emeritus.
Star Radio Group
WFLS (AM), the company’s first radio station housed at the same location, went on the air in 1960. WFLS-FM was added to the company in 1961. Later on, in 1994, The Star Radio Group bought 99.3 WYSK: The Rock Alternative The company purchased WWUZ, a classic rock-formatted station out of Bowling Green, in 2001. In 2009, WYSK became 99.3 The Vibe (WVBX), advertised as "Fredericksburg's #1 Hit Music Station. In September 2010, the company added a sports talk station, ESPN The Game, at AM 1350 and FM 96.5. In March 2012, WWUZ became 96.9 The Rock, advertised as "Your Classic Rock Station".
In the mid-1990s the company maintained a web presence under FLStarWeb.com. Those efforts have since shifted to fredericksburg.com. In 1984, The Free Lance–Star was named by Time magazine as one of two top small daily newspapers in the country.
In March 2010, The Free Lance–Star began printing in their new production facility, Print Innovators. Print Innovators is a 92,000-square-foot (8,500 m2) facility, and a $45 million investment. Print Innovators is the only press in America that uses the Goss International Flexible Printing System. In mid-2008, the installation began for the new printing systems. Goss also provided the Ferag press gripper and storage components, plus the Magnapack packaging system with 34 packaging stations.
The 29-foot (8.8 m) high press, includes four printing towers, and two folders that are capable of being run as two separate processes. Each unit can produce 24 pages, making a total capacity of 94 full-color pages. John Jenkins, operations director at The Free Lance–Star and Print Innovators says, “The fundamental technologies are well proven, but the FPS platform presents breakthroughs in print quality, efficiency and versatility that will allow us to better serve our readers, advertisers and contract print partners well into the future.”
Print Innovators is also environmentally conscious. The building is mostly lit by skylights, using sunlight in the day, and moonlight and low-energy fluorescent lights at night. Print Innovators uses post-consumer recycled paper fiber. From all of the newspapers that don't pass quality control are recycled and then used as roofing material. Print Innovators immediately planted native grass after construction ceased, to bring back the natural environment. In this natural environment live frogs, deer, rabbits, and turtles. Print Innovators has a bike rack outside for employees, and so far, one employee uses it daily.
The press is run mostly by computers, but is maintained by many workers. The computers serve many purposes, including how much ink to use in each column, how many newspapers to put in a bundle, how to place papers in storage according to when they will need to be used, and where to get stored papers when they need to be accessed.
The press is capable of full-color on every page, everyday. In one hour, the press can produce up to 90,000 newspapers. Print Innovators can service customers of The Free Lance–Star in a 400-mile (640 km) radius, twice as fast as the previous press. Earlier production allows for earlier delivery times, and more services are available for production.
Print Innovators prints many local and out-of-area publications, not just a local paper. Some other newspapers that they print are the Washington Examiner, Alexandria Times, Southern Maryland Today, and many more.
Print Innovators created a new Web site in 2011 to direct users to their services. The site is at printinnovators.com.
The Free Lance–Star is the title and secondary sponsor of several events in Fredericksburg, such as the Free Lance–Star Classic All-American Soap Box Derby (which for many years has been the biggest Soap Box race in the country), and The Great Train Race & Caboose Run, a youth mile run through downtown Fredericksburg.
The Free Lance–Star Classic
The race was run on William Street in downtown from 1951 to 1972. The AASBD was incapable of running after the loss of Chevrolet as the national sponsor. This left many towns and communities with no local race.
For many years, Fredericksburg, Virginia had gone without a local derby. In 1996, Ralph "Tuffy" Hicks, a city councilman, brought up the idea of bringing the race back to Fredericksburg. The City Council agreed to this idea, because they thought that it would be a great activity for the community to get together. The running of the derby would be the responsibility of the Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation Department. Many local businesses purchased cars and donated what was needed to get the race going. The first race was in 1997, 25 years since it had stopped.
The first title sponsor of the race in 1997 was Purvis Ford, a local Ford dealership. In the first year of the new race, there were 85 racers in two divisions, Stock and Super Stock. As of 1998, the race had increased by 40 racers, bringing the total drivers to 125.
In 2000, The Free Lance–Star became the title sponsor of the Fredericksburg Derby. By 2001, The Free Lance-Star Classic was the largest local race in the country. In 2004, the Masters Division was added to the race, so that there would be options for different age groups. This made for three champions sent to Akron, Ohio, where the Nationals are held.
- "Names". fredericksburg.com (The Free Lance–Star).
- "US Newspaper Search Results". Audit Bureau of Circulations website. March 31, 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
- Kelly, James. "Telling a Town About Itself". Time. June 16, 1986.
- "The Free Lance–Star Publishing Co., Story". The Free Lance–Star (The Free Lance–Star Publishing Company).
- "Big Fish in Small Ponds". Time. April 30, 1984.. See: "family legacies: Virginia's Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star"
- "About". Fredericksburg Soap Box Derby. Fredericksburg Soap Box Derby. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
- Clayton Jones (staff editorial cartoonist)
- Official site
- Online version of print newspaper
- History of the Free Lance–Star
- Fredericksburg Research Resources, including links to historical newspaper indexes of the Free Lance, the Star, and other Fredericksburg newspapers
- Print Innovators Official Website
- Fredericksburg Soap Box Derby Official Website
- 99.3 The Vibe
- 93.3 WFLS
- 96.9 The Rock