Kevin Brydie and Heila Ershadi [Courtesy photo]

Andrew Mirrington
Andrew Mirrington

Moab Sun News Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Andrew Mirrington said this week that he has finalized the sale of the Moab Sun News to Moab residents Heila Ershadi and Kevin Brydie.

“It’s bittersweet,” Mirrington said. “Building this newspaper from scratch, with the incredible people that I’ve worked with, has been the highlight of my professional life.”

The transaction was completed on Nov. 1, Mirrington said. The sale price was not disclosed.

Mirrington will work alongside new owners Ershadi and Brydie for about a month-long training and transitional period.

Mirrington, who also publishes the Moab Area Real Estate Magazine, as well as a group of newspapers and magazines in Telluride, Colorado, said the timing was right to “shake things up a bit.”

“I’m looking forward to focusing on fewer publications, and having some time for new ideas,” he said.

Ershadi, who has long been a freelance writer for the Moab Sun News, said she is looking forward to throwing herself into the bigger role of managing a community newspaper.

“It’s exciting to be a part of a vibrant, small-town newspaper that provides valuable, timely information to the public, and gifts a lasting record of events to future generations,” she said.

Ershadi, originally from Tennessee, is an 11-year resident of Moab and, besides writing, has worked in office administration and in wilderness therapy. She and Brydie have a blended family of four kids: DJ, Veda, Cyrus, and Ruth.

Ershadi has been active on local boards, including the Moab Charter School, and she served a term on the Moab City Council from 2014-17.

Moab resident and business owner Sam Newman said he thinks Ershadi is well-suited to the role of a community newspaper publisher.

“She has a curious and balanced approach,” he said. “I’m excited to see what she and Kevin will do as publishers of the Moab Sun News. I have found her to be extremely easy and pleasant to communicate with.”

Brydie grew up in Chicago and Baltimore, and has lived in the Moab area since 2006. He has a business degree and served in the U.S. Army. He has worked extensively in the hospitality industry and is currently an administrator at a local medical office. Brydie has for the past eight years volunteered as a youth football coach for Moab City Recreation.

Brydie said his first job at age 12 was selling newspapers in Chicago, and he relishes returning to the industry in a way that “makes a difference.”

“I want to have ownership over my own work, and do something that benefits the community,” he said.

Mirrington moved to Moab and founded the Moab Sun News in 2012, having been a visitor to the area since the 1980s, and working in publishing since 1998.

The paper has experienced rapid growth in readership and advertising support, not just in print, but also online and on social media platforms. Mirrington said that readership of the paper and its website have never been higher, bucking newspaper trends nationally.

“Newspapers in resort markets like Moab are a whole different animal,” he said. “Locals and tourists are bigtime consumers of free media in small towns.”

Mirrington said that combined print and online readership of the Moab Sun News currently exceeds 6,000 readers per week during most of the year. The Moab Sun News’ Facebook page has 6,300 followers.

Local business and nonprofit leaders say that the Moab Sun News has made a big difference in the community.

“The Moab Sun News covers everything — the important and the entertaining; major news … the arts, the schools, reader opinions and our beloved nonprofits,” Grand Area Mentoring Executive Director Dan McNeil said. “The powerful reach of the paper has helped our mentoring program grow at a pace that once seemed impossible.”

The Moab Sun News has donated more than $100,000 in advertising to local causes and nonprofits in the past six years, Mirrington said.

He said the ability of the Moab Sun News to connect with a broad cross-section of locals and visitors has been key to the paper’s popularity with readers and advertisers.

“We don’t exclude any demographic or opinion,” he said. “We believe that our local community and our visitor community are inextricably linked — and we serve both.”

But Mirrington says it’s the people he’s worked with that have really made the paper succeed.

“The Moab Sun News has attracted some incredibly talented people,” he said. “Some have been with me since the beginning, and I am eternally grateful to them and everyone else who has created this business.”

Mirrington said he is glad that the Moab Sun News will remain independent, and said he has high hopes for Ershadi and Brydie.

“They are great local people, with a lot of energy and a diverse array of skills,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll keep what’s working well, but find new ways to build upon what we’ve done so far.”

Ershadi and Brydie say they are impressed by the staff that Mirrington has assembled.

“We have a great team, and I look forward to seeing how I can assist them,” Brydie said.

Mirrington said that after he helps the new owners get up and running, he looks forward to focusing on his other publications and having a little more time for family and friends.

“For the past 20 years my attitude has been to work, work, work, and make room for every idea and project,” he said.

“It’s been exciting, but I’m craving just slightly less excitement.”