Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Editor Has Pulse on Music Beat Vibe Success Due to Danyel Smith

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Editor Has Pulse on Music Beat Vibe Success Due to Danyel Smith

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- If there's such a thing as an oasis of calm in the heated world of urban music, Danyel Smith's office at Vibe magazine is it.

With her second anniversary as editor in chief approaching -- as well as her first as editorial director of offshoot Blaze -- she has designed her space for the demanding work she knows has to go into the deceptively laid-back-looking magazines.

But on just the other side of the bamboo-shaded windows that separate her from the rest of Vibe's staff, the pace is as energized as the diverse strains of music coming from all over the editorial floor. "The rule is that you can play your stereo as loud as you dare," Smith said.

On her watch, the 33-year-old Brooklyn resident -- Vibe's first African-American editor in chief -- has broadened the monthly's "hip-hop heart" -- R&B, jazz and gospel -- to include Latin and electronic music.

Vibe and Blaze -- the hard-edged hip-hop sheet aimed at 12- to 24-year-olds -- along with Generation X magazine Spin, are part of the Miller Publishing Group started by former Time Inc. executive Robert Miller, who partnered early on with music legend Quincy Jones.

Under Smith, Vibe's circulation, which hit 236,825 in 1993, its first year, is now around 700,000 and growing. It counts Rolling Stone among its competition.

Because it's less than a year old, Blaze's circulation hasn't been audited yet, but its firstyear goal was 250,000. It goes head to head with hip-hop glossy The Source.

"Revenues at Vibe are up 20 percent," said John Rollins, group publisher of Vibe, Blaze and Spin. "That's one thing that speaks to the strength of Danyel's vision."

Barely two months ago, such pronouncements would have been made by Keith Clinkscales, the chief executive and co-founder of Vibe/Spin Ventures. He left the company recently, with four others, not long after the forced resignation of Jesse Washington, whom he had tapped as Blaze's first editor in chief.

Washington was pushed out over his hire of Montoun Hart, acquitted in February of involvement in the slaying of Time Warner Chairman Gerald Levin's son, Bronx high school teacher Jonathan Levin. …

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