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The History of The Exponent

The Beginning

Warren and Annie Strandell started The Exponent on July 11, 1979, in an office at their home in East Grand Forks.
Mr. Strandell served as editor-publisher of the newspaper, while Mrs. Strandell served as its business manager.
In the inaugural editon, Strandell wrote in his weekly column, “Homespun,” about what it was like in the beginning.
“When the only piece of equipment that you have is a pica pole [the printer’s ruler], starting a newspaper can be a very involved project.
“And, that’s exactly what it has been.
“The little things that can seem so simple in planning and dreaming about the newspaper we’d like to publish – those things like acquainting news sources with what you hope to do and asking them to please keep you informed, like planning distribution, learning to operate new and different equipment, setting up procedures that hopefully can become routine in the weeks ahead, and just trying to cover all the bases that a first-time effort involves – have admittedly taken away from the overall project.”
Strandell continues: “What we hope The Expo will be is a newspaper that you, its readers, will find very difficult to get along without. It will hopefully have complete information about the events and news of East Grand Forks and the surrounding communities.”
“The limitations of time and body make it impossible to do that without your help. The limitations of time and
body make it impossible to cover everything. That’s why we ask that you fill us in.
Send us your reports about the activities of your clubs and organizations, tell us about your golf leagues, softball
teams, the achievements of friends and family members, the news about your churches, and all the other events of the community and area.”

That statement remains true today. The involvement of members of the community makes a community newspaper what it is.

In a recent interview, Strandell recalled making the decision to start a paper in East Grand Forks, a direct
competitor to The Record.
“We had talked about possibly purchasing The Record, but when that didn’t pan out, we decided to start our own,” Strandell said. “The first three weeks, we gave away the papers. At the end of those three weeks, we had over 1,000 subscribers.”
In the beginning, the paper was delivered by carrier to subscribers in East Grand Forks.
Now, The Exponent is delivered by mail.

Ties to the past

During the 1983-84 school year, The Exponent’s current Co-Publsher, Julie Nordine-Bergman was employed by The Exponent while she was attending UND’s School of Mass Communications.
The offices were located in the basement at 412 3rd St NW in East Grand Forks.
That, incidentally, is directly below the current location.

Passing of the torch

In 1993, Strandell sold the paper to Rollin Bergman and Julie Nordine. At the time, the office was located at 1010 Central Avenue.
As quoted in the January 7, 1993, issue of The Exponent, Strandell said, “Many emotions run through our minds as we pass the torch… While we are finding it a bit difficult to walk away from ‘our baby,’ we do so now knowing that in Rollin Bergman and Julie Nordine, The Exponent has two of the finest and most progressive weekly newspaper publishers in the region.”

Since then Strandell has served as a Polk County Commissioner for 15 years, and
worked with Simmons-Flint Advertising for four years.

After the flood of 1997, The Exponent moved to 910 Central Avenue. Publication
continued from there until the office moved to its  location of 406 3rd St NW in 2006. In November of 2015 the Exponent moved in to its own building located at 207 2nd Avenue NE, East Grand Forks.

The Exponent has three sister publications in Northwestern Minnesota. The Tribune in Greenbush, North Star News in Karlstad and The Northern Light in Baudette. The four papers are part of Page 1 Publications. The Exponent was also a sister publication to the Warroad Pioneer until 2006, when the Bergmans sold it to Carol Hoover.
Both Rollin and Julie have served on the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation board of directors,
and both have served as President of the Minnesota Newspaper Association. They
continue to be active on the boards and give training seminars to regional newspaper staffs.
“We look forward to serving the East Grand Forks community for many years to come, and
thank all our loyal supporters, subscribers and advertisers over the past sixteen years” said
publishers Rollin and Julie Bergman.