"We're talking to lots of folks," says City exec Del Favero.
City Communications, the newly formed company comprised of Nashville Scene co-owners Albie Del Favero and Bruce Dobie, former Montgomery Newspapers Publisher Art Howe, and the investment firm of Weiss, Peck & Greer, announced last week it has signed a letter of intent to purchase Lexington, Kentucky’s, ACE Magazine. The company already owns an interest in the Scene.
“We’re excited to be a part of a new, growing company, and to have the opportunity to work with Albie Del Favero and Art Howe,” ACE Magazine Publisher Susan Saylor Yeary told AAN News. “We see lots of good things in the future.”
“We’re going to help Susan in terms of capital and know-how,” says Del Favero, who first met Yeary at the 1994 AAN convention in Boston. “I think a lot of her and a lot of the market there.”
Del Favero says Lexington has several characteristics that make it an ideal market for City Communications. “It’s a big college town; it’s a hub for eastern Kentucky; it’s growing; it’s relatively affluent. We just feel really strongly about the potential for alternative weeklies in markets like Lexington,” he told AAN News. “We feel they’re underdeveloped, and the dailies are weak. As long as there’s a retail base, we’re going to go after them. We’ve made sure that there are strong, independent retailers in the [Lexington] market.”
Yeary will retain a 20% interest in the paper. Del Favero says that’s part of the City Communications’ plan. “Our whole strategy is to retain owner-operators; they will retain equity and they will have a stake in growing the paper and the product.”
Del Favero did not disclose the names of other alternative newsweeklies that City Communications is currently seeking to acquire, but he did admit, “We’re talking to lots of folks.”
He also stressed that Howe, as City’s CEO — along with Dobie, Del Favero, and communications executives Mike Craven and Jim Thompson — will be running the show, not Weiss, Peck & Greer. “They are investors and just investors; they have no interest in operating papers. They’re very impressed with Art and with Dobie and I, and they expect us to carry the ball.”
Del Favero assured AAN News that the recent formation of City Communications is unrelated to the impending sale of the Stern Publishing group, publisher of industry heavyweights The Village Voice and LA Weekly. “It had nothing to do with the Stern sale,” says Del Favero.