In an encore of The Business Beat, Steve Jones-D’Agostino talks with Walter Bird Jr., editor of Worcester Magazine, about the business of local journalism 40 years ago – and today. This episode aired originally on November 6, 2016.
Forty years ago, two young entrepreneurs named Dan Kaplan and Ryck Bird Lent – who were new to Worcester, to Massachusetts, and to New England – founded Worcester Magazine as a monthly. It went weekly two years later, in 1978. This past September 22, WoMag published a jam-packed 40th Anniversay issue.
During the past four decades, WoMag has gone through numerous ownerships. Dan and Ryck sold it in 1986. More than two decades later, in, 2008, the Holden Landmark Corporation, owned by Kirk Davis, bought WoMag.
Holden Landmark Corporation, which is based in Millbury, also owns the weekly Holden Landmark plus the monthly Bay State Parent, and the weekly Grafton News, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Leominster Champion. Together with Worcester Magazine, they have a combined circulation of more than 85,000.
Since 2014, Kirk Davis has also been CEO of Gatehouse Media, a separate company based in Pittsford, New York. Gatehouse Media owns 620 community and business publications, along with 125 daily newspapers, including the Telegram & Gazette and Metrowest Daily News, plus more than 530 local-affiliated websites.
Worcester Magazine has gone through many transformations during the past 40 years – from monthly to weekly, and from alternative to mainstream. Through it all, WoMag has survived, thrived, delivered consistently on a slogan that it touted than a decade ago: “Love It. Hate It. Read It.”
Steve’s guest, Walter Bird Jr., has been editor of Worcester Magazine since 2014.