In 1960, a small group of independent coal producers decided to form an organization to represent their interests and the National Independent Coal Operators Association (NICOA) was formed. The first chairman of the board was Robert Holecomb and the executive secretary was Louis Hunter. Three years later, NICOA became incorporated and several hundred coal companies had become members. The organization was funded by a royalty system based on tons produced and soon became a major force in the coal mining industry.
Five years after the organization was originally founded, four of its members put up $500 each to get a newspaper started for the membership. The leader of the group was Charles F. Trivette of Virgie, Kentucky who was in the coal business in eastern Kentucky and owned a radio station. The other contributors were Lexie Potter, executive secretary of the West Virginia chapter of the Association; James Brown, executive secretary of the Virginia chapter; and Jay W. Parker, executive secretary of the Kentucky chapter. Thus, the National Independent Coal Leader newspaper was born and the first edition was published in October 1965 (see Figure 1).
The National Independent Coal Leader was published monthly as the official voice of the NICOA and was dedicated to safety in the mining industry. Charles F. Trivette became its editor-in-chief and Louis Hunter its managing editor. The remaining three founders became assistant editors. The newspaper was supplied free to members of the Association and was funded by advertising. In 1970, it became necessary to charge $1 for a year's subscription. The paper was given a new look in 1981 with some color added (see Figure 2) and the subscription rate was increased. Louis Hunter had become its long-time managing editor.
During the 70's and 80's the coal industry changed from a myriad of companies and independent mine operators and a pared back coal industry emerged in the 90's dominated by large operations and large corporations, and starting to involve consolidated energy suppliers. At the same time Louis Hunter, who had been appointed executive vice president of NICOA, wished to retire. In 1992, 32 years after its formation, it was decided to disband the Association. Louis Hunter had built the newspaper into a substantial enterprise keeping the members of NICOA informed of current events in the coal industry. The circulation at that time was 11,000.
The paper was quickly purchased by the public relations firm Altizer Fisher & Associates, Inc. with Barbara F. Altizer and E.B. Fisher becoming joint editors. At the same time the paper was given a new look (see Figure 3).
In 2001, the newspaper was renamed Coal Leader (see Figure 4). Today, Coal Leader, Coal's National Newspaper, is increasing its substantial reputation in the industry and continues to keep its readers current on industry events, new products and services, and research and development. The tradition of sending Coal Leader to all members of the Senate and Congress has been maintained.
Coal Leader promotes greater safety and health in coal mining at every opportunity and its Mission Statement appears on the home page. Barbara F. Altizer is Publisher; Advertising Sales Manager; Marsha Presley, Circulation Manager. Circulation is 15,000 +/-. Coal Leader is continuing to play a substantial role in today's modern and dynamic coal mining industry.
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