Magazine article Editor & Publisher

New Times Inc. Adds Another Alternative to Its Bullpen

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

New Times Inc. Adds Another Alternative to Its Bullpen

Article excerpt

In the latest union in the alternative weekly industry, Phoenix-based New Times Inc. has added PitchWeekly of Kansas City, Mo., to its collection of newspapers. The deal brings New Times' holdings to 11 weeklies with a combined distribution of 1.1 million.

Founded 20 years ago to boost sales at the owner's chain of record stores, PitchWeekly since has branched out to take on local government, the daily Kansas City Star, and social issues. In the past six years, it became profitable and doubled its distribution level to 100,000, beating out the other alternative, Kansas City New Times (not a New Times paper), which went under in 1997.

"It's been a well-run paper," Andy Van De Voorde, New Times Inc. executive associate editor, said of his company's interest in PitchWeekly. "It's well-positioned in the market."

PitchWeekly founder Hal Brody, 49, said he had decided to sell so he could spend more time with his family, which includes six teen-age kids, when New Times approached him last year with an offer.

"There's a sense of loss, obviously," Brody said. "It's nice that we were one of the few locally owned papers in the community." Selling to an alternative chain makes it easier, he added.

Brody wouldn't reveal the sales price, but, in general, alternatives today can be expected to sell for a hefty two times revenues. PitchWeekly had revenues of 3.5 million dollars to 4 million dollars last year, averaging 25 percent revenue growth in each of the past three years, Brody said. In 1998, New Times paid between 6 million dollars and 10 million dollars for a similar-size alternative weekly in St. Louis, Riverfront Times, circulation 103,000, the St. Louis Post- Dispatch then reported.

New Times started in 1977 with the Phoenix New Times, now a 132,000- distribution weekly, and has been collecting weeklies in California, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Ohio, and Texas ever since. …

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