Zach Ahrens, president and publisher of The Topeka Capital-Journal, announced he has accepted a position with WEHCO Media and will leave Topeka for Jefferson City, Mo.
Ahrens introduced himself to Jefferson City employees Wednesday. He told Capital-Journal employees on Tuesday his last day in Topeka will be Jan. 16.
“It’s been my privilege to work with you for the past 27 months,” said Ahrens, who joined The Capital-Journal in October 2015. “Topeka quickly became my home, and I will take with me a lifetime of memories from this community and this building.
“I have been given a good career opportunity. While I hesitate to leave The Capital-Journal during this time of transition, I can’t let this one pass me by.”
The Capital-Journal was acquired by GateHouse Media in early October.
Grady Singletary, regional vice president for GateHouse Media, said a search for The Capital-Journal’s next publisher would begin soon. Singletary told employees Tuesday he would be a regular presence in the meantime.
Ahrens, 37, will be general manager of Central Missouri Newspapers Inc., which publishes the Jefferson City News Tribune, Fulton Sun, California Democrat and HER Magazine. Ahrens also will oversee the company’s commercial printing division and Flypaper, which is a full-solution digital marketing firm.
All are under the umbrella of WEHCO Media, a privately owned diversified communications company with interests in newspaper publishing, cable television and digital services. Family owned since its founding in 1909, the company operates daily and weekly newspapers, magazines and cable television companies in six states. WEHCO is an acronym for Walter E. Hussman Co.
“I love Topeka,” Ahrens said, “but I also look forward to working for a family company with a strong commitment to local journalism and community.”
Ahrens came to Topeka from the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway, Ark., where he was president and publisher. The Conway and Topeka properties at the time were owned by the Morris Publishing Group, which is where Ahrens began his journalism career in 2000 at the York (Neb.) News-Times.
After serving as publisher for several weeklies, Ahrens joined Lee Enterprises in 2006 as advertising director for a Nebraska daily, then worked as an advertising and digital media director for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota.
He graduated with a degree in communications from York College in Nebraska.
In Topeka, Ahrens has been a highly engaged community participant, serving on numerous boards, including Kansas Press Association, Easter Seals/Capper Foundation, Rotary Club of Downtown Topeka, Shawnee County Parks and Recreation Foundation, United Way of Greater Topeka, GO Topeka, Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce and Heartland Visioning.
In addition, he is vice chairman of the board of Midland Care Connection; vice president of the executive board of Boy Scouts of America, Jayhawk Area Council; vice president of Kiwanis Club of Topeka; statewide board member of Junior Achievement of Kansas; and co-chairman of the Momentum 2022 Entrepreneurship Work Group. Ahrens also served on the TARC Foundation Board of Trustees.
Ahrens is on the Topeka and Shawnee County Intergovernmental Cooperation Council, East Topeka Council, Topeka-Shawnee County Holistic Economic Development Strategy Steering Committee, Momentum 2022 Implementation Committee and Momentum 2022 Leadership Cabinet.
Ahrens and his wife Heidi have three children: Carter, Conner and Camrynn. They will remain in Topeka through the end of the school year.