Harte-Hanks Communications, Incorporated, owns and operates newspapers and television and cable-television stations, including a San Antonio shopping channel, radio stations, printing facilities, market-research firms, and direct-mail and other advertising services in Texas and across the United States. In the 1980s the firm employed 9,000 workers, 4 percent of whom were represented by a union. Despite the economic slump of the 1980s, revenues in 1982 were almost $397 million, and in 1987 the company was among the top 400 privately held corporations in Texas.
The company was founded by newsman Houston Harte, a native of Knob Noster, Missouri, who subsequently purchased the San Angelo Standard, and Bernard Hanks, then owner of the Abilene Reporter (later the Abilene Reporter-News). In 1920 the two established a partnership and began to acquire newspapers, including the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Corpus Christi Caller Times, and San Antonio Express. To distribute the papers, Harte purchased and incorporated Sunset Motor Lines. The company itself incorporated after Hanks's death in 1948 as Harte-Hanks Newspapers, Incorporated, and continued to acquire papers until the 1970s, when it sold the San Antonio Express-News to Rupert Murdoch and began to diversify into areas including entertainment products and programs, direct mail, Airnews, Incorporated (a Cessna aircraft agency), and other information services. In 1967 corporate headquarters were moved to San Antonio, but until 1971 the firm was involved only in Texas. At one time Harte-Hanks owned twenty-six dailies and forty-eight other papers and had expanded to the Southeast, West Coast, and major northeastern cities. In 1972, with the help of Harvard Business School graduate Robert Marbut, the company went public.