Leishman Named GM at Birmingham Weekly

Former Yesse! VP to Handle Day-to-Day Operations.

After 14 years in the alternative newspaper business, Chuck Leishman was looking for an opportunity to run his own ship. He finally got his chance last week when Birmingham Weekly owner Tina Savas handed him the job of general manager of her two-year old paper.

Until last month, Leishman had been employed as Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Yesse! Communications, where he was responsible for the national sales effort at the five-paper chain. He left Yesse! to pursue a position with another organization that offered more hands-on responsibility: “I enjoyed my stint at Yesse! Communications. At this point, the opportunity to oversee a newspaper operation has a greater appeal,” says Leishman. “This [position] gives me that opportunity.”

Savas had been looking for someone else to run the business since last March, when she found herself immersed in the daily operations of the Weekly following the sale of her other paper, the Birmingham Business Journal. “It’s a personal decision on my behalf because I found myself in the thick of [running the paper], so I started a search [for a general manager] to give myself some relief. I’m looking for a break.” Savas says that she plans to spend more time with her family.

The Weekly competes in the growing Birmingham market with another recently admitted AAN member, Black & White. “The market is ripe; it’s ready; all it needs is someone with expertise like Chuck to launch it to the next level,” says Savas. “Chuck has a lot more experience at this stuff than I do.”

Leishman’s extensive career in the alternative newsweekly industry includes 12 years with the Sacramento-based News & Review chain (including eight years as the national sales manager), and an 18-month stint as the general manager of PitchWeekly.

One of Leishman’s first tasks will be to hire an editor to replace Thomas Spencer, who will depart this week to take a position at the daily Birmingham News. Ironically, Spencer was awarded first-place in the small paper (under 54,000 circulation) Media Reporting category in last year’s AAN editorial contest for his critical examination of the local Birmingham News-dominated Joint Operating Agreement (JOA).

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