Skip to Content
OKC Media

Here’s our version of the history of OPUBCO

7:00 AM EDT on September 26, 2011

It's been over a week since news broke that OPUBCO — including The Oklahoman — was being acquired by ultra-billionaire Philip Anschutz. So far, not much has changed at the Joke. The paper is still being printed, the editorial page is still conservative and Steve Lackmeyer is still obsessed with food trucks.

To mark this historical change in ownership, The Oklahoman published a series of articles that will surely get the paper some PRSA Silver Anvil award nominations. They profiled Philip Anschutz with a very nice article that went out of its way to not mention any of the wacko conservative foundations and anti-gay groups he's funded. They also didn't write a thing about him being Lee Corso's long-lost brother.

In addition to the nice news about its new owner, OPUBCO made sure everyone remembered just how important, influential and indispensable the paper and Gaylord family have been to Oklahoma society for the past 100 years or so. This was showcased in a timeline that highlighted the distinguished history of the company.

The timeline was okay, but it oddly seemed to be missing some important events in the paper's history. For example, there's no mention of the infamous 1999 Columbia Journalism Review article that named The Oklahoman the "Worst Newspaper in America." They also ignored milestones like the first Jenni Carlson article, the time in the 1980s when they started to hire minorities or when Ed Gaylord opened his own personal Grandy's in the basement of his mansion just so he could eat unlimited okra and have an old woman bring him dinner rolls with honey butter.

Anyway, since The Oklahoman's timeline seemed to be lacking, we decided to help fill in some of the blanks with our own OPUBCO timeline. It's in chronological order. The first three items are below, the rest are after the jump:

1894: The Rev. Sam Small, a charismatic evangelist comes to Oklahoma City with the idea of establishing a newspaper. He selected a name — The Daily Oklahoman.

1895: Clarkangus B. Matthewson becomes the first human to use the word "Jokelahoman."

1903: Edward K. Gaylord and three associates he brought with him from St. Joseph, Mo. — Ray Dickinson, an advertising man, Roy McClintock, a news editor, and Satan, an evil supernatural being — purchase a minority interest in the newspaper.

1909: The Oklahoman's building, including the pressroom, is badly damaged by fire. While the fire was still burning, E.K. Gaylord arranged to print The Oklahoman's next paper at The Times-Journal plant. The newspaper never missed an edition and won't until it finally folds into in 10 - 20 years.

1907: The Oklahoman spearheaded the successful fight for statehood. Victory was declared, and Oklahoma City began to grow. However, in what E.K. Gaylord will call his biggest disappointment, elected officials renege on the promise to name the new state “The Gaylord Family presents the Great State of Oklahoma.”

1918: Not happy with the direction of the paper, Roy Stafford and Satan sell their interest in The Oklahoman to E.K. Gaylord.

1935: Will Rogers dies. The Oklahoman begins publishing Argus Hamilton columns the day after.

1936: Edward Lewis Gaylord starts his first job with The Oklahoma Publishing Co., working in the parts department of the Mistletoe Express garage for $2.50 a day. Overnight, the Mistletoe Express garage becomes the worst department to work for at OPUBCO.

1938: The Oklahoman publishes its first front page, unattributed editorial to openly criticize State Senator Gene Stipe.

1948: E.K. Gaylord treats Governor Roy Turner to lunch and threatens to ruin his career. This begins a long-standing tradition of the Gaylord family having complete control of the Oklahoma Executive Branch.

1950: Cartoonist Jim Lange joins the staff of The Oklahoman, launching an avant-garde career in which he proves that editorial cartoons don’t necessarily have to be funny or even make sense.

1963: Furious over the Gaylord family's refusal to let his gubernatorial campaign ads run in the paper, W.P. Atkinson launches The Oklahoma Journal as direct competition to OPUBCO's Daily Oklahoman and The Oklahoma City Times.

September 4, 1968: Intending to play a funny joke on the copy editors, typesetter Roger C. Schwartz replaces the daily prayer with a dirty limerick about a Kangaroo and a well endowed Ethiopian.

September 5, 1968: The Oklahoman publishes its first and last daily limerick. Roger C. Schwartz begins a new career as a night stocker at TG&Y.

1974: E.K. Gaylord dies at the age of 101. His son, Edward L. Gaylord, is promoted from the oil change guy at Mistletoe Express to Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of the state's largest newspaper.

1975: After being in control for only a few months, Ed Gaylord attempts to purchase the Oklahoma State Capitol. He comes up short, but does succeed in purchasing the people who work there.

1980: The Oklahoma Journal folds. Ed Gaylord smiles and rubs his hands slowly together.

1983: The oil bust cripples the Oklahoma economy, but don't worry, the Gaylords continue to get rich due to diversified assets in other states.

1991: OPUBCO employees move into a dark and scary new office building at 63rd and Broadway Extension.

October 1992: As a 14-year-old boy, Patrick sends a poignant "Letter to the Editor" of The Oklahoman sports department blaming Offensive Coordinator Larry Coker for conservative play calling and the struggles of Gary Gibb's Oklahoma Sooners. It is never published.

November 1992: Bill Clinton is elected president. The cryogenically preserved corpse of E.K. Gaylord, dead for 18 years, explodes into a thousand jagged shards.

October 1993: The Oklahoman publishes a front page story with a massive headline revealing that David Walters' name is on a secret, sealed grand jury indictment. Suddenly, it’s no longer that big of a secret.

December 1993: The Oklahoman publishes an editorial in favor of an “individual health care mandate.” The paper now calls that same mandate "Obamacare.”

1995: Ground is broken for Gaillardia, a planned community offering a private country club, golf course and luxury homes for rich privileged people in northwest Oklahoma City.

March 1996: The Oklahoman executives began preparations for a lavish party to celebrate what they are certain will be several Pulitzer Prize nominations for the paper’s coverage of the 1995 federal building bombing.

April 1996: The Oklahoman executives cancel a lavish party.

May 1996: Amateur photographer (and bank loan officer) Chuck Porter and Albuquerque Tribune journalist Hank Stuever win Pulitzers for their coverage of the 1995 federal building bombing.

April 1999: The Columbia Journalism Review names The Oklahoman the Worst Newspaper in America. The paper named Stan Tiner as its new editor just weeks later.

December 1999: Under the leadership of Stan Tiner, The Oklahoman publishes the first of a three-part series on the Karen Silkwood case. The second and third parts never appear. Neither do Tiner’s subsequent paychecks. He is canned after eight months and replaced by Sue Hale.

2000:  The Gaylord family donates $22 Million dollars to create the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, forever insuring that they will indoctrinate Oklahomans not just through the newspaper, but in education as well.

2002: Sensing that the power of the press was waning, the Gaylord Family purchased the only thing more powerful than the media--OU Football.

2003: The name of the paper is officially changed from The Daily Oklahoman to The Oklahoman. The Gayly Oklahoman suddenly felt less relevant.

2006: Former Oklahoman editor Stan Tiner leads the Biloxi, Mississippi, newspaper to a Pulitzer Prize.

2007: Jenni Carlson publishes a bad article about Oklahoma State quarterback Bobby Reid. Viral chaos ensues.

2008: OPUBCO launches a new social networking events website called It doesn't do so hot.

2009: The Oklahoman notifies Patrick's 83-year-old grandfather that he will soon have to pay an additional 67-cents each week if he wants to continue receiving the TV listing magazine in the Sunday paper.  Patrick's 83-year-old grandfather is not happy with this news.

2010: Steve Lackmeyer writes a controversial column arguing that we should allow marriage between one man and one old building

2011: OPUBCO is purchased by a dude who’s even more wacko and extreme than the Gaylords.


Yeah, our timeline may have been subjective, not entirely accurate and blurred the truth in a few spots, but this is The Oklahoman we're writing about. When in Rome, right?

Anyway, if you noticed any key events that we left off, let us know in the comments.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter