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With a circulation of about 15,000, the Beacon serves Shallotte, the islands of Holden Beach, Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle Beach, as well as a number of other coastal communities in southern Brunswick County including Carolina Shores, Calabash and other rural small towns. Because of the area's allure to tourists and retirees insistent on keeping up with Brunswick County's burgeoning real estate market, the Beacon boasts paid circulation in 49 states.
The Brunswick Beacon was formed in 1962, following a series of ill-fated publications that served the area dating back to the 1930s. With the islands nearly vacant in the early 1960s and small pockets of population in the fishing-dominated surrounding communities, front page news from that period included a local man being stung by a bee, a raid on a local still, and a jailbreak in a neighboring town.
The Beacon was purchased in 1970 by Edward Sweatt, then a partner in Community Newspapers Inc. out of Spartanburg, S.C. Sweatt and his wife, Carolyn, staved off competition from several groups intent on starting a second newspaper in the market and skillfully guided the Beacon through the area's population explosion in the late 1980s and early 1990s. By the mid-1990s, real estate and service industry advertising allowed the Beacon to expand from printing 28 to 32 pages to 70-plus pages each week.
In early 2001, the Beacon moved from its location on Main Street to a new 21,000 square foot office center and printing plant on Smith Avenue. The Beacon was purchased in June 2003 by Landmark Community Newspapers Inc. out of Shelbyville, Ky. LCNI is a division of Landmark Communications, a privately held media company in Norfolk, Va. with interests in newspapers and special publications, TV broadcasting, cable programming, outdoor advertising, and education.