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Anna Crawford Milner Archives and Special Collections

Ralph and Marcia Sears Media Archive

By Ralph and Marcia Sears,The Shelby County Advertising Corporation


The Shelby Shopping Guide was born in 1960, with a logo a little like the 1959 Welcome to Las Vegas sign, suggesting a look to the future and car culture.  The type used in this 8 page newsprint publication glances back to early typewriter fonts, with a distinct homey look. 

Ralph Sears fashioned this new publication after a similar shopping guide his family created in Lincoln, Nebraska. That earlier guide offered depression-era homes with prices of everyday supplies. Ralph and Marcia brought the idea with them to Shelby County, Alabama in 1948, where the idea lay dormant for a decade.

In the mid-1950's, Ralph's parents died, leaving a modest amount of money used to purchase WBYE Radio, an AM station in Calera offering daytime programming of news, country and 1950's music. It marked a return for Ralph to commercial radio announcing. His work at Alabama College teaching radio and speech allowed him time early weekday mornings to begin a news broadcast he named Between the Lines. He called on advertisers across the county, and offered them space in The Shelby Shopping Guide

Printed at the Wyatt printing company in Montevallo, the half-sized paper was mailed at the post office in Montevallo and distributed by bulk mail across the county. These early editions are a glimpse into what Shelby Countians bought and what stores offered to sell: 

A rebuilt chainsaw at Seaman Timber Company, a ten year old Ford, lard in a four pound package, oleo in two pounds. Clip art on page 4 of the Feb. 10, 1960 edition promotes  a 'slenderizing home salon' with a massage belt. The half page ad with a WBYE microphone on page 3 encourages readers to listen to "The Best in Radio in Central Alabama".

Shelby County Reporter

The Shelby County Reporter grew out of the Shelby County Reporter-Democrat and the Shelby County Times-Herald. It was purchased by Ralph and Marcia Sears in 1967. The couple served as publisher and editor until they sold the paper in 1984.  

Shelby Shopping Guide 

First printed in 1960, The Shelby Shopping Guide offered residents a glimpse of the wares, products, and services available around the county. Ralph and Marcia Sears worked on a similar publication in their native Nebraska and brought the idea with them when they moved to Montevallo in 1948. 

Institutional Repository

See Sears Media Archive materials in the Vallo Vault, the University of Montevallo's Institutional Repository. 


Ralph and Marcia Sears purchased WBYE in Calera and operated it for a number of years. Ralph also worked in Public Relations at Alabama College where he taught students radio and managed WAPI, the campus station.