TBC Media has named Michelle Chantry its president and chief executive officer, replacing Richard Beene, who retired Friday.

Chantry, 46, has served as the company’s vice president and chief financial officer since 2010. She will fill all three roles going forward.

“This is a challenging and exciting time to work for a media company,” said Chantry, who is also president of the California Newspaper Publishers Association. “We are witnessing some fascinating developments. The information world is changing and we are changing with it.

“This company has always been on the front edge of innovation, especially in the last 22 years under the leadership of Richard Beene, and I expect that entrepreneurial spirit to grow and evolve as we redefine our role in this community.”

Chantry becomes the first female CEO in the 119-year history of the family-owned company, purchased in 1897 by Alfred Harrell.

Beene, 65, joined The Bakersfield Californian as executive editor in 1994 and became CEO in 1998.

"It has been a great run but it is time to hand it off to Michelle, who is wickedly smart and has a sharp focus on where to take the company in the future,” Beene said. “Like a lot of people, I moved to Bakersfield with the idea I would stay here for two or three years. That was 22 years ago and after raising a family and developing roots, I have no plans to leave.

“As for my future, I will continue to focus on politics, accountability and our community in my blog on bakersfieldobserved.com. "

Beene will scale back on Bakersfield Observed, but only slightly: His popular column will be published Wednesdays and Fridays. Louis Amestoy, The Californian’s vice president of content, will take over Beene’s Monday slot.

Chantry, a graduate of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for four years, then transferred to San Diego State University, where she matriculated with the bachelor of science degree in Recreation Administration.  She later obtained certificates in accounting and finance from the University of California, San Diego, and a master’s in business administration from CSU San Marcos.

She was accounting manager at a San Diego-based stainless steel manufacturer for 13 years, then moved to Bakersfield in 2008 to be closer to her mother, Sarah, and her sister Sherry Whitehead, brother-in-law Michael Whitehead and their family.

“I kept coming up here to visit, and people here were so nice,” she said of her decision to move north.

She is married to Steve Chantry, a native of Chicago whom she met in San Diego.

Beene, reared in Atlanta, has spent his entire career in newspapers on both the editorial and business side. He joined The Californian after seven years with The Los Angeles Times, where he worked in the Orange County, South Bay and San Fernando Valley offices serving in a variety of editing and management positions. He was part of the reporting teams awarded the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Prior to that, Beene worked as a journalist overseas, serving as Latin American bureau chief in Mexico City for The Dallas Times Herald, an editor at the Spanish News Agency EFE in Madrid and as Cairo bureau chief for United Press International.

Beene currently serves on the Foundation Board of CSU Bakersfield and on the advisory committee to the CSUB School of Business. He is a past president of the Bakersfield Museum of Art Board of Trustees, past president of the Rotary Club of Bakersfield and past board member of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce. 

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