SF Mayor Brown Delights AAN West Audience

Over 400 attend this year's West Coast confab.

In a 40-minute speech that effortlessly merged humor and policy, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown delighted the full house that attended AAN West last weekend. With his uniquely deliberative speaking style that perhaps can be best described as African American-patrician, Brown addressed the California energy crisis and the role of the media and took equal turns aiming his rapier-like wit on himself and his critics.

Brown’s luncheon speech highlighted the two days of workshops and seminars organized for the 400 writers, editors, ad reps, circulation managers, design/production personnel and publishers who attended this year’s Jan. 26-27 event at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco.

The annual gathering began with roundtable discussions Friday afternoon and ended with a Microvoice-sponsored cocktail party at the jam-packed Red Devil Lounge the following evening. In between, advertising reps broke small boards with karate chops in Larry Levine’s sales seminar; design and production staff broke into laughter when, for the first time all day, computer-graphics guru Sandee Cohen’s expertise with Illustrator failed her just as AAN’s executive director entered the room; Inside.com’s David Carr awarded a group of reporters a fifth of Jim Beam during his highly-interactive editorial session; and classified reps listened for the sound of instructor Chris Mullins’ bugle when it was time to return to their seats.

In addition, more than 40 publishers and circulation managers huddled to swap ideas about the increasingly difficult art/science of free distribution. For many circulation managers, it was the first opportunity to meet their peers from other AAN papers.

“For us to be able to use that kind of forum was fabulous,” said Kris Koth, circulation manager for Washington City Paper. “It got me out of my bubble … It was great to realize that everybody is facing the same issues.”

Hosted by the Santa Barbara Independent, AAN West 2001 was also the site of several formal assemblies, including the AAN donated ad and circulation committee meetings; the AAN Board of Directors meeting; and gatherings of the Alternative Weekly Network (AWN) and the Independent Caucus. Among other decisions that were reached during the weekend, AWN members voted unanimously to negotiate exclusively with Village Voice Media Executive Vice President Albie Del Favero for the network’s CEO position.