Junck takes executive post at Lee newspaper, TV chain

Former Sun publisher, CEO is returning to home state, Iowa


May 12, 1999|By Robert Little | Robert Little,SUN STAFF

Former Baltimore Sun publisher Mary E. Junck, who resigned in March from a senior executive position with the paper's parent corporation, Times Mirror Co., was named chief operating officer yesterday of Lee Enterprises Inc., a chain of newspapers and television stations based in Davenport, Iowa.

She also will sit on Lee Enterprises' board of directors and will become its president in January, company officials announced.

Junck was born and raised in Iowa and will move there this summer, leaving Baltimore after six years during which she became widely known for her service on various boards and civic organizations.

She has served on boards for Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and other groups, and amassed a broad record of community involvement ranging from Sunday school teacher to recreation-league basketball coach.

"Baltimore is a terrific place, and we're going to swallow hard when we leave there," said Junck, 51, who lives in Roland Park.

"But on the other hand, this is going to be a great opportunity with a great organization," she said, "and it's in a part of the country that I love and where I still have family."

Junck expects to resign from most of the civic positions in Baltimore, including her chairmanship of the Greater Baltimore Alliance, a regional economic development group.

"She brought enthusiasm, intelligence and energy to the job, and it will be hard to replace," said John MacColl, head of Baltimore operations of the St. Paul Cos. Inc., who serves on the GBA.

"She's an energetic, genuine person with a strong sense of interest in the community," MacColl said.

Junck was publisher and chief executive officer of The Sun from 1993 to 1997, and president of Times Mirror Eastern Newspapers when she resigned from the company in March.

Her resignation from Times Mirror occurred before her discussions with Lee Enterprises began, she said, and was not related.

During her years at The Sun, Junck presided over a resurgence of the newspaper's profitability, which had languished in the early 1990s.

In the year that she oversaw Times Mirror's East Coast newspapers, including The Sun, Newsday, the Hartford Courant and Allentown Morning Call, the division reported record revenue and income and anchored the company's profits.

In 1998, Times Mirror's newspaper publishing operations reported $413.8 million in operating profit, buoyed by the performance of the eastern newspapers.

Lee Enterprises owns 21 daily newspapers, including the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, the Lincoln Journal Star in Lincoln, Neb., the Billings Gazette in Billings, Mont., and the Quad City Times in Davenport.

It also owns nine network-affiliated television stations, more than 75 weekly and specialty publications and a commercial printing operation.

The company reported $62.2 million in net income last year, down 3.1 percent from the year before. Its operating revenue for 1998 was $517.3 million.

"I think she'll be terrific," said Michael E. Waller, who succeeded her as publisher and chief executive officer of The Sun.

"She's got great marketing savvy and a good fundamental understanding of the newspaper business," Waller said. "It seems to me it fits her perfectly."

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