Iowa town relies on one-page Hotsheet to deliver local news
LE MARS, Iowa — It’s a common sight in most every public setting anymore. Look around and you’ll see people with their heads bent over their smartphones, fingers swiping at the screens and thumbs punching out messages.
It shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone that information nowadays is just a touch of the finger away.
But when you take a seat at any of a number of eating establishments in Le Mars for morning coffee or lunch, you’re just as likely to see patrons getting information the old-fashioned way, by reading it off of a piece of paper instead of a small video screen.
For decades, the Hotsheet has been a staple here, providing local news headlines, sports scores and other tidbits of information. It can be found on tables at several fast food restaurants and cafes.
“It’s kind of a throwback piece, but we still have a lot of people who like to pick it up and read it every day,” said Brad Pick, the marketing officer at Primebank, which prints and distributes the one-page bulletin.
Pick agreed it’s interesting that in the age of the smartphone, people still will casually pick up a sheet of paper to read a few news items. But there are dedicated readers waiting to see the new Hotsheet if Pick’s running late delivering the 200 or so copies about town.
“If I’m a little bit later than normal, there are a few guys who will point at their watch and let me know I’m late,” he said.
Printed on the front and back of each Hotsheet are a few local news headlines, local high school and national sports scores, the weather forecast, a joke of the day and Le Mars radio station KLEM’s Citizen of the Day feature.
Much of the information is easily accessible from any number of websites. But Pick told the Sioux City Journal that it’s a convenient time-killer for someone waiting for their food or it might spark a conversation with a lunch partner. Maybe they know the person who was named Citizen of the Day. Or it’s a chance to catch up on Le Mars news that isn’t always reported by Sioux City media.
“I think it gives them an opportunity to get the real local news,” Pick said.
For decades, KLEM had put out the Hotsheet, and Primebank was an advertiser. Pick said that seven, eight, nine years ago, he’s not exactly sure when, KLEM notified bank officers they were going to discontinue the Hotsheet.
“A couple of us looked at each other and said ‘gosh, we should do this,’” Pick said. “We looked at it as something that’s kind of iconic in our community. We saw it as still having marketing value.”
So every day, Monday through Friday, Pick gathers the news and other information off of KLEM’s website, prints it out and delivers it to 14 or 15 spots in town by 10 a.m., in time for some of the late coffee groups to check it out.
“If I miss a day because of bad weather or some other reason, people miss it,” he said.
And they rarely miss the joke of the day. Pick finds jokes online or uses one of the many that readers submit to him. More than any other Hotsheet feature, the joke seems to generate the most feedback.
“I usually don’t have to go too far to find out if it was a good joke,” Pick said.
Primebank doesn’t see the Hotsheet getting squeezed out by online competition anytime soon, Pick said. No matter how prevalent smartphones become, bank officials believe there’s still a place for it at the lunch tables throughout town.
“We’ve never really talked about not doing it anymore,” Pick said. “It’s fun to do it.”
There’s a piece of good news you won’t find on your smartphone.