Office Manager Patty Levesque has worked for Xpress for 20 years (pictured here, 1st row, far right).

Twenty years, day in and day out

Having worked at Mountain Xpress for 20 years, I have seen many changes — in staff, in technology, in delegation of duties and, of course, in the growth of the paper. Back when I started in 1994, Xpress had only a dozen employees or so, and not all were full-time. Jeff Fobes, our publisher, oversaw […]

How citizen-based reporting got the news

In the early ’90s, more than 20 people filed for the Asheville City Council primary election. Instead of Mountain Xpress reporters interviewing the candidates, the paper asked for community volunteers to help. A group of volunteers met with Julian Price in an upstairs room on Page Avenue. We were given a set of questions to […]

Vol. 1, Issue 1 (Mountain Xpress, Aug. 10, 1994)

Chasing crack rabbits

Grace Slick sang, “One pill makes you larger, the other makes you small. And the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all,” on Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” cementing the figurative connection between Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the ’60s drug culture. Perhaps that’s why an educational anti-drug video, produced 20 […]

Tapping into the local debate

In the days before commenting on websites, Facebook and other social-media platforms, Mountain Xpress got readers talking each week. Every issue featured two, three and sometimes four commentaries, often from wildly different worldviews. The Aug. 31, 1994, Xpress featured four, including the first “Gospel According to Jerry [Sternberg].” Readers reacted strongly to Sternberg’s support for […]

The day Hazel Fobes showed me up

When I look back at the early ’90s, I can remember a lot of issues that everyone worked on. Specifically, though, when I think about Green Line and then the Mountain Xpress, I am reminded of publisher Jeff Fobes’ mother, Hazel Fobes. She attended meeting after meeting, waiting to speak her opinion on all kinds […]

An Xpress roll call

Miles Building, Elwood Miles, hot summer days, sketchy Lex Ave (Welcome to Wally World), Grey Eagle in Black Mountain, Leni Sitnick, Julian Price, Be Here Now, Gatsby’s, Danielle Truscott, Marsha Barber, phones with cords, fax paper rolls, boot leather and notebooks, Carey Watson, Wanda Edney, paper ballots for Best of WNC, Patty’s little girls roaming […]

A journalist’s rite of passage

I remember editor Peter Gregutt helping my writing recover from four years of grad-school jargon and two years of technical writing. I remember the excitement of working on emerging social issues, such as the gay rights movement (still a work in progress). I remember thinking that my job was to “take down the bad guys” […]

David Cohen's cartoons ran in Xpress' first issue (Aug. 10, 1994). This one's from 1995.

It must be a Coincident…

When the Green Line, Asheville’s monthly environmental newspaper, decided to go weekly, all of us who worked on it got together to talk about what that would entail. How would production be affected? Would there be enough to fill a weekly? And what toll would a new ramped-up schedule take on all of us? I […]

Challenging the status quo, cleaning up local government

Twenty years ago, law enforcement in Asheville and Buncombe County was unaccountable, environmental regulations were a joke and local government was a perpetual backroom deal. Mountain Xpress’ investigative reporting and commitment to community involvement helped changed all that in ways that I might not believe possible if I hadn’t seen them myself — from the […]

Getting ready to plan the area beside Lexington Avenue at the Interstate 240 underpass. This was one of hundreds of beautification projects undertaken by Quality Forward (now GreenWorks). Photo courtesy of Susan Roderick

On Wednesdays, everyone was reading it

Mountain Xpress added to the vibrancy of an already out-of-control energy level around Asheville in the ’90s. Events and causes finally had a voice, and everyone pitched in to get the word out. We knew it was a successful publication because you would go through downtown on a Wednesday and everyone was reading it. It’s […]

Lou Bissette, Asheville mayor (1985-1989)

Dear Jeff

Dear Jeff… It is hard to believe that it has been 20 years since you began publishing the Mountain Xpress. During that period of time, Asheville has changed a great deal and the Mountain Xpress has been a big part of that process. It is really hard to comprehend the changes that have taken place […]