El Rito Media acquires Rio Grande SUN

May 1, 2022

ESPAÑOLA, New Mexico — The Rio Grande SUN in Española has been sold by Robert B. Trapp to El Rito Media LLC, an entity created by a group of local New Mexico investors.

The SUN was founded nearly 66 years ago by Trapp’s parents, Robert E. and Ruth Trapp, and Bill and Hollie Birkett. Ultimately, the Trapps bought the Birketts’ interest in the newspaper.

Dirks, Van Essen & April, a media merger and acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, advised Robert Trapp in the transaction. The sale was completed April 1. Terms were not disclosed.

Over the years, the newspaper has been the recipient of multiple awards for reporting and photography. It was the subject of a film documentary, “The Sun Never Sets,” produced by Ben Daitz and Dale Sonnenberg, New Mexico filmmakers. The film was featured during a special screening for journalists and the public at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., in August 2013.

“I watched my parents come to work every day, literally until the day they died,” Robert said. “No one owns a weekly newspaper. It owns you. I’ve got too many things I want to do before I die, and I can’t do them and run a weekly newspaper.”

Richard L. Connor, a veteran of the newspaper industry, will step into the publisher role. Connor, over a long career, has overseen newspaper operations in 10 states across the country, owning and operating several dailies and weeklies, as well as working as editor and publisher for publicly owned media companies.

“The heart of journalism today is where it’s always been,” Connor said, “And that’s in smaller communities where the weekly newspaper keeps everyone not only informed but connected to one another.”