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We appreciate your phone calls about our changes

Plenty of people called the Republican Eagle this week simply to talk.

They had read Tuesday's story that we'll publish twice a week starting next month. They wanted to ask questions, certainly, but most of them just needed someone to listen.

I don't know how many times I replied, "I know" and "I understand" and "I'll miss the daily paper, too."

I do know that every time I said, "I appreciate your call," I meant it.

Some called to commiserate.

They still miss the Monday paper -- which we discontinued in December 2005 -- and don't want to lose three more days.

Most of these callers also acknowledged they're glad we will publish Wednesday and Saturday editions instead of once a week.

A few readers expressed anger and dismay. The most passionate drove straight to our office rather than call.

This is their newspaper, a daily newspaper.

How dare we take that away? How else will they know what's going on each day?

Some readers wanted to know if they could do something, anything. They're proud to live in a "daily" town and care about their newspaper.

A couple callers applauded the decision. They think a twice-weekly print product will suit this community fine, once people get used to it.

Whether they were sad, mad or glad, the callers inevitably mentioned they understand economics drove this decision.

Red Wing's population is flat, and state demographers anticipate the city may be smaller after the 2010 census than it was in 2000. Fewer people means fewer subscribers, callers said.

Red Wing and surrounding communities have lost major manufacturers this decade. One caller said he "gets" that this hits the newspaper twice because families move away and if manufacturers aren't hiring they don't place help-wanted ads.

The area's retail base also is different, if technically not much smaller, than 10 years ago. There are fewer locally owned stores, so there are fewer traditional print advertisers.

The Red Wing market certainly isn't immune to the automotive industry's woes or the waves of foreclosures sweeping the nation, other callers said. Those, too, affect the newspaper.

So is the newspaper profitable? Yes. As I told callers individually and Publisher Steve Messick told the state's radio, television and newspaper media, going from five days to two days a week is designed to ensure the R-E and our printing plant stay profitable.

We expect your questions and comments to continue. We'll answer them as best we can whether you stop by the office, call or send us an e-mail. We'll keep listening, and then we'll take what you have to say and make the Republican Eagle better.