Comden Buys SLAMM, Mulls an Overhaul

Competition in San Diego

The new owners of SLAMM, a San Diego biweekly music publication, are considering transforming it into a full-fledged alternative newspaper, David Comden, group publisher of Southland Publishing Inc., said today.

Ventura Newspaper, Inc. parent company of the Ventura County Reporter and Pasadena Weekly, announced late last month that it had changed its name to Southland Publishing, Inc. and had purchased the eight-year-old biweekly tabloid, specializing in local and national music coverage.

Comden said editorial changes in the publication would begin in the fall and that a decision whether to transform it gradually or conduct a full-fledged redesign had not been made.

“We’re likely to use it as a middle-of-the-book core and build around it,” Comden said of the existing SLAMM editorial content.

David Rolland, editor of VC Reporter, said he is moving to San Diego to become editor of SLAMM and that a search is already underway for his replacement.

SLAMM’s previous owner, Kevin Hellman, becomes marketing and sales manager, Comden said.

Comden said the potential with SLAMM is much different from the company’s two existing papers in suburban Los Angeles.

“It’s a big-boy market,” said Comden, who lived in San Diego for 17 years.

In addition to dailies, AAN-member San Diego Reader, which is 30 years old and has a weekly circulation of 158,000, will be competing with SLAMM as it ramps up to become a news and entertainment weekly.

However, the experience in smaller markets will serve them well in San Diego. “Our specialty is making small things work,” Comden said.

SLAMM has a controlled circulation of 35,000 copies throughout San Diego County and is an arts and entertainment member of AWN.

Southland has no plans for further acquisitions. “This was an opportunity that came up and seemed right,” Comden said.

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