At 11 a.m. on some random Thursday back in 2006 I realized our page designer wasn’t going to show up for work. She had an affinity for beer and wine, so I made the call to her favorite watering hole as we were scheduled to print at 6 p.m. The bartender helped me narrow down the search to a trailer park and guessed she was “in the one without a door.”

I found her, and our staff of five published the paper.  

The last 15 years have been rife with adventure as we have grown this publication to become the only locally-owned and -operated publishing company covering the entire Florida Keys. 

Today the Weekly employs 12 full-time staffers, two part-timers, four freelance writers and several stingers that work across our offices in Tavernier, Marathon and Key West. Our employees are our greatest asset and we gauge our success through their achievements. 

They have helped us grow in spite of odds stacked against us. 

We survived the recession, hurricanes, screw worm, Cay Clubs, power outages, traffic jams, late night council meetings, personal attacks, competition that challenged our market position and the national shift away from printed journalism — a shift we recognize and understand. Fortunately for us, locally owned community newspapers are thriving across the country and the Weekly is no different. 

Our biggest frustration has been how to properly expand the business. My business partner Britt Myers and I have spent the past few years assembling a staff that thrives on experimentation, which has enabled us to expand our services to a complete media and marketing company. Our staff would work themselves to death and, in fact, one of our page designers, Javier, may be decomposing in front of his computer as I type this. 

The three editions come out every Thursday and we average about 35 magazines a year that cover a wide range of local topics like hurricane preparation, home and garden, lobster mini-season, local dining and real estate. 

While the Weekly’s corporate portfolio has increased at the same pace as the staff, our commitment to the communities we serve remains constant. 

We continue to serve in Rotary clubs, support our local non-profits, volunteer, and take the time to learn about what is important to our readers. Your stories are important to us and we look forward to many more years of covering the Florida Keys. 

P.S. We are offering a free Key lime pie to the first person to identify that little girl on the cover. Please call 305-743-0844.

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Jason Koler, born in Florida and raised in Ohio, is the “better looking and way smarter” Keys Weekly publisher. When not chasing his children or rubbing his wife’s feet, he enjoys folding laundry and performing experimental live publishing.