Thirty years ago, Jim Kydd stood in the garage of his home overlooking Moonlight Beach, carefully looking over pages of newsprint, his 4-year-old son sleeping on the floor wrapped up with the family cat, Hazel.
The pages were filled with stories about his new hometown, with pictures of bikini-clad women scattered throughout.
Kydd called it “The Beach News.”
Three decades later, Kydd’s creation is now The Coast News, and has become one of the most read weekly newspapers in California and the publication of record for North San Diego County.
When asked about reaching the 30-year milestone, Kydd answered as only he could.
“Aside from the fact of being hit by the old-age truck, I don’t know, that’s the most obvious thing,” Kydd said. “Who would’ve known?”
Kydd, a transplant from the Northeast, had helped launch two publications in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, before leaving with his then 2-year-old son, Chris, for warmer weather and opportunity in California.
He first landed in Pacific Beach, where he lived for a year while commuting to work in Oceanside. He learned about Encinitas from friends in San Diego.
“People from downtown said it was a cool North County city that had a good vibe,” Kydd said. “I’ve been here for 30 years now.”
After bouncing around several newspaper jobs in Oceanside, Vista and Clairemont Mesa —admittedly fired from a few — Kydd said he decided to get into business for himself.
“I couldn’t seem to find a decent job, so I got to the point where I said, ‘I can’t find a job, I might as well start a paper of my own,’” he said. “I know how to do it, so I might as well.”
And so Kydd did. He spent $2,000 of his $3,000 credit card limit to clean out his garage that was full of motorcycle parts, oil pans and other items.
“I would always say that if anyone asked me if I became successful, what was the hardest part of becoming successful, I would tell them that it was cleaning out my garage,” Kydd said.
Then, with only a black and white Mac Plus computer, Kydd started to put together his dream — a dream that included a lot of skin.
Kydd said he wanted to put together a paper that reflected the beautiful coastal community the people of Encinitas called home. What better way to portray it than with beautiful women, men and children in their bathing suits — on every other page, he said.
The paper’s debut edition, for example, featured a 20-year-old Escondido waitress, Stephanie Mackno, in her bikini at Moonlight Beach.
“It’s the same way the coast itself connects with people,” Kydd said. “I figured if I like the thing they are coming to enjoy, they would like the paper too. I wanted to create a paper that people would pick up and look at.”
Mackno, who the Coast News was able to locate, said she thought it was a great idea to feature beach bodies in the paper, and loved being a part of the paper’s first edition.
“I was enjoying that time of the season, it was great, and the paper brings back lots of great memories of summer,” Mackno said. “I thought it was a great experience, and the paper is great, I’m glad to hear that it’s still around.”
Mackno wasn’t the only one at the time who thought the paper was a great idea. It became an immediate hit with the locals, and save for the second week, Kydd has published the paper every week for 30 years.
“Without getting into the whole ‘God’ thing, some force in the universe looked down on me and blessed me for trying all the time and working until 4 in the morning,” Kydd said. “People would come up to me and say, ‘Oh, the Beach News, I love that paper!’ It just connected with people.”
And as the years passed, the paper continued to grow — and grow up. He grew the paper until it became too big to publish from his garage, and moved it into an office on Second Street.
He prides himself on being able to say he has always paid his employees and his obligations on time.
In 1997, 10 years after the first issue, Kydd announced the paper would be rebranded as “The Coast News,” its name today. Kydd said he changed the name around the same time that Stuart Grauer changed the name of his private academy along El Camino Real to The Grauer School.
In 2014, the newspaper expanded with an Inland Edition to serve the communities of Vista, San Marcos and Escondido.
And over time, the pictures of girls in bathing suits disappeared and the paper began to cover serious issues in the community, from the location of the new library in 2002 to the fate of Proposition A in 2013.
“I think one of the things about Encinitas is that it doesn’t change too much, and it has kept its nice, seaside sort of vibe and I know that people have fought hard to keep it,” Kydd said. “And I think that is something we have helped out with.”
Former Encinitas Councilwoman Teresa Barth, who has lived in coastal North County her entire life, said The Coast News has reflected the region and played a vital role as a vehicle to give people a better understanding of the issues.
“When it started it was more easygoing, and it has absolutely evolved to become an important part of our community and issues of importance, such as incorporation and other major political issues throughout our history,” Barth said. “As the community has matured, so has the paper.”
Barth said she believes the reason the paper continues to exist and be successful is the local ownership.
“The paper has kept its local roots, we know the publisher, Jim Kydd, and his son Chris, they are members of this community,” Barth said. “It is not run by some faraway corporate headquarters in Chicago, it is someone we know and see around town. Keeping it local is where the success has been.”
Kydd has ceded much of the day-to-day operations to the boy who was sleeping on the garage floor in those early years, Chris, The Coast News’ associate publisher.
Even with the success the paper has seen over the three decades — including dozens of local, state and regional awards — he counts Chris as his biggest success.
“He is my proudest achievement,” Kydd said of his son.