"I flew in from Denver"-midvacation-"just for the meeting and decided to make the most of it," Mr. Kahn said. "I acted as though I had just walked in off the golf course." So he carried the putter and wore gold shorts, golf shoes (mercifully spikeless) and the golf shirt.
"I just shook my head," said Charles Valan, VP-associate director of strategic print services for Universal McCann, New York. But, Mr. Valan said, "it just paints a picture of a person and their dedication, and you feel very comfortable." Comfortable enough, at any rate, for the two to close the deal.
Mr. Kahn, 39, may want to keep a golf club or two around in his new role as publisher of Conde Nast Publications' New Yorker, which he began at the beginning of this month. The venerable title is coming off a bang-up year in which ad pages rose 16%, to 2,408.4. Its rate base rose twice, from 725,000 to 800,000. Mr. Kahn was one of the three Davids piloting the weekly-working with then-publisher David Carey, now president-CEO of Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's business information unit, and Editor David Remnick. However, his predecessor Mr. Carey left the title to him just as the economy started softening.
Mr. Kahn isn't new to the position of publisher-he previously held the title at foodie bible Saveur when it was owned by Meigher Communications and at Capital Publishing's personal finance title Worth-but he enters his most high-profile post yet at a uniquely challenging time, a notion Mr. Kahn's boss readily acknowledges.
"In the kind of tough year we're all facing, it helps to have stability wherever possible" said Conde Nast President-CEO Steven T. Florio. "We had several good candidates inside and outside the building, and we felt David was really the guy for it." (At least one other Conde Nast publisher, Amy Churgin of Architectural Digest, turned down the New Yorker job.)
It helps that those who have worked with him in the past are effusive in their praise.
"One of the best people I ever worked with," said magazine vet Joe Armstrong, who hired Mr. Kahn to be his No. 2 at Saveur. Mr. Armstrong, who just left his position as VP-strategic planning at Talk Media to start his own company, has previously worked with pikers such as Talk Editor Tina Brown, Talk Publisher Ron Galotti, and Hearst Magazines President Cathleen Black, just to name a few.
"An editor's dream publisher," said Saveur Editor in Chief Dorothy Kalins-a useful trait at the New Yorker. "He always went the last mile."
He'll need to do that in the current magazine environment. But Mr. Kahn only sounds notes
"The fundamental underpinnings of the magazine are rising at a faster rate than the economy is sliding," he said, "so the overall trend of the New Yorker is an upward one." Bookings thus far in '01 leave its ad pages up "mid single digits" over last year.
On the circulation side-the bete noire for the magazine industry-Mr. Kahn said another rate base rise likely would come
If it doesn't, Mr. Kahn can always try dropping by Conde Nast's circulation department with a putter in hand.