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The big story at Rodale in '02 was the stabilizing of its men's flagship, Men's Health, which watched ad pages rise 22.5% to 874.8 for the full year and newsstand sales spike 14% in the last half of the year. The glamor story at Rodale, which is not known for such things, was the improbable emergence of Men's Health Editor in Chief Dave Zinczenko as the magazine world's "it" boy: the movie star squeeze; the spot on People's Top 50 Bachelors List; the op-ed piece in the Times; the prominent mentions in stories on GQ editor Art Cooper's potential successors; the account of the female Playboy writer who bedded a "Magazine Guy" who matches many of Mr. Zinczenko's attributes. That's all good, but the rest of the picture is mixed. Company prime-mover Prevention had a flat year, with ad pages dropping 3.7% and falling below 1,000, plus significant newsstand declines as well (though rate base rose to 3.2 million in January '03). Aside from an up year at Runner's World, Rodale's more targeted sports titles showed declines. And the company's health/holistic-based Organic Style remains a question mark. Though the company claims an unaudited circulation of 600,000 for the six issues it published in '02, advertisers aren't exactly flocking to the title (it's averaging slightly less than 45 ad pages per issue), and there's been continual turnover in its editorial operations. Despite the ups and down, Rodale's titles eked out an overall ad page gain in '02, a claim that not many of its larger rivals can match. 2002 was a welcome improvement over `01, in which Rodale's flagship titles were all off. Still Rodale seems to be in the process of a transition toward an as-yet-unclear destination.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Best performer:

Men's Health

ad pages

up 22.5% to 874.8


up 4% to 1.7 million

Worst performer:


ad pages

down 31.5% to 128.4


down 29.6% to 306,079

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