By Godofredo M. Roperos
IN AUGUST 1947, kzRC was revived under the management of the Cebu Broadcasting Company, becoming the first postwar commercial station outside of the national capital. When the government required in 1949 that the radio stations in the country should carry henceforth the “dy” in its name, it became dyRC. The following year, in 1950, the Philippine Broadcasting Corporation opened dyBU as a competitor of dyRC.
The friendly competition went on until September 1972 when dyRC came to an abrupt end. It was ordered to cease operation at the onset of Martial Law. When it reopened in January 1975, the two pioneering Cebu radio stations had fallen under one ownership: the Elizaldes. And it remained so until August 1999 when dyRC permanently stopped operation after 60 years of being on-air, reportedly due to heavy losses.
On the other hand, the Cebu dailies fought their way to survival through sheer courage and determination. And because the staff members in the meantime agreed to work with only the assurance that they could get cash advances when ad payments could be collected.
Professionalism in the print media did not begin until the decade of the 1980s. In a sense, until Sun.Star Daily’s entry in the print media industry, it was largely a touch-and-go affair where the paper’s next issue would depend on the good will of the printer.
It would be fair to say that the entry of Sun.Star on Nov. 25, 1982 in the Cebu media industry was also the effective date when professionalism among media practitioners received a real push and moved forward in earnest. For it was then when the friendly competition among the four Cebu dailies blossomed into a strong demand for truly good and effective photo journalists, reporters, copy editors, proofreaders and feature writers. To attract them to join the staff, the editor must have a package of enticement.
At this point of the post-Martial Law period, the Cebu dailies numbered four, a carryover from the pre-Martial Law years of the 1960s.
The dailies that proved tenacious in the effort to survive amidst the harsh economic realities of the environment were The Republic News, the Morning Times, The Cebu Advocate, and The Freeman. A fifth one joined the group towards the latter part of Martial Rule. The Sun.Star Daily began publication on Nov. 25, 1982. Its emergence in Cebu that time, on hindsight, seemed providential.
Sun.Star began with the “migration” of some key editorial personnel from The Freeman, including its editor, lawyer Pachico A. Seares, to form the new daily’s initial staff.
The entry of Sun.Star in Cebu City’s media field set the stage for a new phase in the industry’s growth.
It stirred public interest in the local media, inducing a resurgent sense of trust and confidence in the resulting mix of the experienced and the new crop of practitioners. The latter not only infused public assurance of learned competence from the city’s Mass Communications schools, but also generated a sense of dependability and professionalism.
The new media environment gained for the practitioner the people’s trust.
It was thus rather awkward to admit that at this stage in its history, the Cebu City business community, while long showing a robust economic health, was just starting to flex its economic muscle in support of the community press.
As if suddenly realizing the importance of print media in its life, the local business community began to advertise, many of them no longer needing ad solicitors to urge or entice them to do so. Many just went on their own to the publications’ advertising offices to place an ad as walk-ins.
And so, growth came to the print media industry in Cebu. It began, not only to survive on its own steam, but also to be more profitable. As a consequence, a healthy business competition ensued among them. With profitability came salary standardization, human resource development, and increased fringe benefits. Until then, for instance, allowances for transportation and per diem while on assignment in the field, were unheard of…
During the period from the mid-1980s to the decade of the 90s, there emerged in Cebu an unusually strong interest in the area of communication. Suddenly, the local universities, which never showed interest in Mass Communications during the 70s, started opening Mass Communication courses. The University of the Philippines Cebu College opened courses in Journalism, with some local media men as instructors. Then St. Theresa’s College followed suit, with the University of San Jose-Recoletos coming in during the mid-1980s. With the Mass Communications graduates joining the staff of the local dailies, young blood was infused in the journalism profession.
The young ones, with fresh idealism and healthier outlook on the dynamics of domestic and global social, political and economic development, infused more vigor to the Cebu media, not only in the print medium, but also in the broadcast sector.