New Owners at 'Vibe' Magazine Continue Housecleaning

Twenty More Staffers Let Go

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NEW YORK ( -- The new owners of Vibe magazine, who already alienated staff by firing six key staffers within hours of taking control, have just laid off 20 more employees from all departments.

Danyel Smith, a former 'Vibe' editor in chief, has replaced newly-deposed editor-in-chief, Mimi Valdes.
Danyel Smith, a former 'Vibe' editor in chief, has replaced newly-deposed editor-in-chief, Mimi Valdes.

Staffers were already incensed and confused about the way the takeover has been handled since it was announced last week. "There's just things that are happening that are so unnecessary," said one Vibe employee today -- before being fired this afternoon. "New owners, new personnel, no problem. But there's a professional, dignified way to do this with some class -- and then there's the way they're going about it, which is just incredible in its clumsiness."

Plans beyond cuts
Those dismissed today include Lori Yacovone, managing editor; Karla Y. Radford, who was executive director-events and artist relations and had been with Vibe since its earliest days; Florian Bachleda, design director; Rondell Conway, associate music editor; and Vince Bailey, director of manufacturing.

They join the editors and execs ousted last week, including longtime Editor in Chief Mimi Valdes; Kenard E. Gibbs, president; and Shani Saxon-Parrish, executive editor.

Eric Gertler, the new CEO, called reducing staff "the worst part of managing," but declined to elaborate. Vibe's new owners of course have plans beyond staff cuts; they intend to continue extending the brand across media platforms and distribution channels. Current platforms include Vibe Vixen for women; Vibe On Demand, available on the Comcast cable system; the Vibe website and its MVibe mobile service. The Wicks Group of Cos., a New York private-equity firm, announced July 5 that it had acquired Vibe for undisclosed terms and replaced Ms. Valdes, who was out of the office that day, with Danyel Smith, a former Vibe editor in chief. Loyalists complained that Ms. Valdes should have been given a chance to address the staff; an insider countered that she could have come in and done so.

The latest rumor roiling Vibe suggests that Ms. Smith is also replacing Ms. Valdes on the masthead as soon as the September issue, which has already started shipping to printers and was finished before Ms. Smith was hired. Employees said they believe Ms. Smith plans to remove other staffers' names from the September masthead even though they spent months preparing it.

"That rumor has got people just crazy," a Vibe staffer said. "Everyone's so proud of the issue. Take away your job, fine. Don't take away your work."

Another Vibe insider said, however, that Ms. Valdes and anyone who worked on the September issue will indeed appear on the September masthead. Ms. Smith did not return a call seeking comment.

More cuts to come?
Although the new owners' staff reductions seem to be over, not everyone is convinced. One employee ousted today insisted that another round of layoffs will come before the end of July.

Before the magazine's sale, it employed roughly 100 people. Some were inherited from former sibling title Spin, which was also recently sold.

Vibe reported average paid circulation of 836,611 during the second half of last year -- 1.6% below its rate base of 850,000, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Back in 2003, by comparison, Vibe had an audited average paid circulation of 830,052. Ad pages totaled 426.2 from January through May of this year, down 12.7% from the equivalent period last year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Ad pages for all of 2005 totaled 1,242, up 5.7% from 2004.

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