SLAMM Reincarnating as San Diego CityBeat

Targeting young readers in central city

july 23, 2002  04:41 pm
SLAMM Reincarnating as San Diego CityBeat
David Comden and Charles Gerencser at AAN Convention in Madison, Wis.
Adam Ebbin
The owners of San Diego CityBeat, a new alternative newsweekly scheduled to begin publishing Aug. 21, promise to deliver a hard-hitting, edgy publication aimed at young readers in central San Diego County, Publisher Charles Gerencser says.

Southland Publishing, Inc., finalized its purchase of SLAMM Magazine, an eight-year-old biweekly music publication, in early July with the intent of redesigning and re-launching it as an alternative weekly newspaper. The new newspaper will be geared to better-educated San Diegans between the ages of 21 and 45.

"San Diego has a strong daily newspaper and a very respected weekly newspaper, but neither is written with this target audience in mind," David Comden, Southland's group publisher, says in a news release.

"We're not 'taking on' anybody," Gerencser tells AAN News, referring to the well-established San Diego Reader, which has a weekly circulation of 158,000 and runs about 200 pages each week with a signature four-color coated stock cover. "But what we've been hearing is that the media down here needs to be shaken up."

Leading the new newspaper along with Gerencser is David Rolland, editor, and former SLAMM owner, Kevin Hellman, entertainment/promotions manager

Gerencser, most recently publisher of the Pasadena Weekly newspaper and former publisher of New Times Los Angeles, is excited about the prospects of this new venture.

"I wouldn't have moved my pregnant wife and sold my house in Los Angeles, where I've lived my whole life, if I didn't think this was going to be an amazingly successful venture," Gerencser says.

CityBeat plans to aim small in a business sense in the coming few months while setting very high editorial goals, he says. The paper will use "a very eclectic group of freelancers" to produce stories that "reach all facets of the community," including black and Latino groups "that have seen their fair share of marginalization."

Rolland, most recently editor of the Ventura County Reporter, has been a journalist and editor for the past 10 years, including stints with the Chico News & Review and Point Reyes Light newspapers. "Going into such a large and vibrant market will be exciting for us. We'll hit the challenge of providing a fun, compelling, vital newspaper with everything we have," he says in a company news release.

Hellman, founder of SLAMM and producer of the San Diego Music Awards (SDMA), is a longtime promoter and supporter of music. SDMA has raised more than $150,000 for area schools.

Gerencser says they plan to beef up the current 28-36 page biweekly to between 40-60 pages in the short term with circulation of 40,000 and a goal of 2 percent returns. The existing SLAMM distribution network is being completely overhauled, pulling back from the eastern part of San Diego County and focusing on the northern coastal areas and the central city's student and historic neighborhoods.

"I don't want to give anything away, but we're going to have a significant presence on the street," he said.

CityBeat expects to retain all of SLAMM's music business advertisers and expand into other traditional advertising areas served by alternative weeklies. "We're busting our ass to serve our advertising client base, and I think that will be appreciated," he said..

Southland Publishing, Inc., is parent company of the Ventura County Reporter and Pasadena Weekly, both members of AAN. Gerencser says San Diego CityBeat will "absolutely" be applying for AAN membership.

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