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Village Voice hires former CEO of Dan’s Papers ahead of print revival

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The Village Voice, which has been hard to find on newsstands since 2017, has hired the former CEO of Dan Peppers with bold plans to begin publishing a regular print edition early next year, Media Inc. has learned. is.

Steven McKenna begins July 6 as chief revenue officer of the coveted paper — previously working on the 9/11 commemorative issue.

“I think we’ll go monthly through December,” he said of the paper’s print plans. After that, he said, the goal is to return to print every other week.

The Village Voice was the nation’s first alternative newsweek when it was founded in 1955, and quickly gained a following for its colorful features and cutting critics.

But its former owner, Peter Barbe – who was originally hailed as a savior – left print in 2017 and stopped publishing entirely the following year.

Brian Calle’s Street Media bought the paper in December 2020 with plans to relaunch the website and then return to print.

To that end, Voices produced 50,000 copies of a small noticeable print prototype in the spring, under the supervision of executive managing editor RC Baker, a veteran of the old Village Voice. Street Media also owns LA Weekly, Irvine Weekly and the Marina Times of San Francisco.

One of the first goals, of course, is to help street media become editor-in-chief. “I’ve sent Brian (Cal) some names,” said McKenna, a longtime newspaper veteran.

But he compared his overall work at Voice to an effort to diversify the business he pushed into Dan Peppers, when it was owned by Richard Burns’ Manhattan Media.

The Village Voice newspaper box
The Village Voice abandoned its print edition in 2017 and stopped publishing entirely shortly thereafter. A new owner bought it in 2020 with plans to revamp the brand.
Christopher Sadowski

“When I got there, it had an event, when I left we were doing 14 major events that brought in $2 million a year,” he said of Dan.

At The Voice, he said, “we have to diversify with events, publications, digital and combo packages.”

“My job is to support the editorial mission to bring it back to where it once was, and even better,” he said.

Dan Peppers cover depicts dozens of people on the beach
Steven McKenna spent eight years running Dan Peppers.
handout

McKenna is the first employee hired by Street Media in New York as the 66-year-old publication, which counts three Pulitzer Prizes with the George Polk Prize in its storied past, starts from scratch.

He spent eight years running Dan and was there to acquire The Independent from Ron Perlman. He left when Schneps Publications acquired Dan’s Independent Media last year.

His former boss of Dan, Richard Burns, said of McKenna, “He was behind some of the key changes that transformed Dan from a one-horse local newsprint into the Hampton’s premier multimedia business. He is exactly what he is. A lapsed brand like Voice needs that.”

Steven McKenna wearing sunglasses
Steven McKenna, who has recently been selected as the Village Voice’s chief revenue officer, says that diversifying revenue with events, publications, digital and combo packages will be a necessity.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Earlier in his career, McKenna spent 18 years as head of retail advertising at Newsday, where he dealt with the newspaper’s infamous circulation pumping scandal under Tribune Publishing.

Nine Newsday executives were sentenced to probation in 2008 for pumping up Newsday’s dissemination and its affiliate publication Hoyes from 2000 to 2004. Newsday voluntarily returned $96 million to advertisers and paid $15 million in federal fines. McKenna’s job was to try to keep advertisers happy with the turmoil. “My group was handling a business of about $180 million,” he said.

McKenna’s plans for Voyce were echoed by CEO Calle in an interview with the LA Times shortly after he bought Voyce in 2020. “In addition to his reputation for hard-hitting investigative journalism – which is going to be needed after COVID – people want to go out, whether it’s concerts or festivals or nightlife or food or arts or theater. Perhaps more important than ever.”

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