WEHCO Media announced Wednesday that Zach Ahrens will take over as general manager of Central Missouri Newspapers Inc. beginning Jan. 17.
Ahrens will oversee the day-to-day operation of the Jefferson City News Tribune, Fulton Sun and California Democrat newspapers and HER Magazine, as well as CMNI's commercial printing facility and Flypaper digital marketing agency.
WEHCO Media, a family-owned company based in Little Rock, Arkansas, owns Central Missouri Newspapers as well as various newspapers and cable television companies across six states.
Ahrens said he and his family were drawn by the values they observed in the company and in the community.
"WEHCO understands the importance of journalism and community," he said. "I believe they will equip us with what we need in order to do what we ought to — what we have a moral responsibility to do."
Ahrens has served as president and publisher of the Topeka Capital-Journal since 2015, following a promotion within Morris Communications from The Log Cabin in Conway, Arkansas, where he also served as president and publisher. He has worked in marketing and executive roles at various newspapers over the past 16 years.
He graduated from York College in York, Nebraska, in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in communication theory.
"I'm looking forward to working with Zach. He is an exceptional leader with years of publishing experience," said Mark Lane, president of WEHCO's newspaper division. "He is passionate about local journalism, building relationships with customers, partners and team members."
Ahrens said a newspaper's role should be to inform as well as engage the community, especially at a community newspaper in a capital city, which also was the case for him in Topeka.
The newspaper has a critical role and responsibility in the community, Ahrens said.
"It's important to be a watchdog and also a cheerleader. Engagement would be one of my community priorities — finding creative ways to tell the story of the community we serve. It's a huge responsibility."
Ahrens will move to Jefferson City with his family — wife, Heidi; and children Carter, Conner and Camrynn, who will remain in Topeka through the end of the school year.
"This is a very intentional decision on our part to relocate. It's not just a job; it's a community," said Ahrens, who visited Jefferson City in December during the annual Living Windows celebration. "Jefferson City feels like a big small town. People were welcoming and friendly."
Ahrens has been involved with several community organizations in Topeka, serving on boards for Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, on the United Way of Greater Topeka Board of Directors, on the Boy Scouts of America Jayhawk Area Council Executive Board as vice president, on the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce board, and on the Kansas Press Association Board of Directors, among others.