Hot book? Lunched at the Palm with the guys who run ESPN The Magazine (I still hate the title), General Manager Geoff Reiss and Publisher Chris Collins (John Papanek actually does all the work as editorial director), and the boys are beaming. Ad pages year to date are up 8% over a very good `02, circ is 1.65 million and climbing toward yet another rate base increase (Sports Illustrated still way ahead but looking over its shoulder?). They feel the five year old mag's General Excellence Award in May provides whatever validation it still needed. Says Reiss, "when we start arguing are we a writers' book or an editors' book, I say, `we're a sports fan's book."' The ESPN television powerhouse of course gives them what they call "a huge marketing platform," and subs are coming in so strongly and renewal rates are so high, they're actually thinking about (no decision yet) getting out of the newsstand business. Twenty per cent of readers are women, 28% non-white, LeBron James likes the book, and, says Collins, "we operate within a recession-proof bubble." Nike's their biggest advertiser. What if a good reporter came up with a terrific, but negative, story about Nike? "We'd sure talk about it," said Geoff, "But if we came across a great killer story about any advertiser, you're going to hurt the franchise worse by walking away than running it." Well said, Reiss!
Randy Siegel is the new publisher of Parade, taking over for Jack Griffin, who is returning to Meredith Corp.
I hear Fox may start its own radio network. Roger Ailes is coming!
Noting the 50th anniversary of the Korean ceasefire (July 27), National Geographic's July cover story is Korea. Nice job. Group Publisher Stephen Gianneti tells me business is getting better with the August issue ad pages up 20%.
I was all set to have lunch with Playboy Publisher Jim Dimonekas when a not-so-funny thing happened: he got canned. Or, as the release puts it, he "left to pursue other opportunities." When I was sacked by Harper's Bazaar in 1972 they weren't as polite. The good news from Playboy? Diane Silberstein succeeds Jim as VP-publisher and will now have an opportunity to work with their new editor, Jim Kaminsky. Diane had been with Yahoo! Internet Life and previously been publisher of The New Yorker and Elle and held ad jobs at Conde Nast. Christie's picked a good one.