Reginald K. Brack Jr. has heard all the doom-and-gloom
arguments about the end of magazines and book publishing.
"It was in 1972 that we folded Life as a weekly; the Saturday
Evening Post folded; Look folded. And everybody said, `Well, there
goes magazines,' " said Brack, the chairman of Time Inc., the
publishing arm of Time Warner, the world's largest media and
"But only eight years later, Time Inc. had the biggest growth
rate in the history of its magazine business."
Brack was interviewed before the recent annual meeting of The
Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. He is chairman of the
League's board of trustees.
During the 1980s, Brack said, "It was going to be Ted Turner's
CNN and all-news radio - `Oh, my God, no one is going to read a
"But guess what? Sports Illustrated kicked into high gear;
People became the most successful and most profitable magazine in
the world; and we had a higher growth rate than even the '70s,"
Founded in 1922 by Henry Luce, Time Inc. expanded after the
press baron's death in 1967 from magazines and books into cable
In 1989, Time merged with Warner Inc., the old Warner Brothers
movie studio, which itself had expanded into a mass entertainment
corporation of movies, music, videos and theme parks.
The merger seemed logical to many, but many others question the
$9 billion in corporate debt that was taken on to swing the deal, a
debt that Time Warner still carries. Time Warner now has about
$9.3 billion in long-term debt. The company had revenue of $13.1
billion last year.
Despite the recession in the early 1990s - which Brack said
was the worst in the publishing business since the Great Depression
- Time Inc. recently has turned in the best performance of any
division at Time Warner.
When he took over Time Inc. in 1986, Brack said, "We had eight
magazines; today we have 37 magazines."
Nearly all of the new publications are special-interest
"They range from Entertainment Weekly . . . to Martha
Stewart's Living to Vibe, the magazine for the Generation X, and
the Hip-Hop world."
Brack still sees a strong potential in specialty publications,
particularly in fashion, health and fitness.
But he stresses that Time's strategy is always to be the
biggest in any niche market.
"If we can't be No. 1; we don't want to play," he said.
Financial analysts like Michael Kupinski tend to agree.
"I hate to use these words, but Time Warner is part of the
`information superhighway,' " said Kupinski, an analyst at A. …