Village Voice Executive Considered for AWN CEO Position

Albie Del Favero and VVM negotiate terms with national sales network.

If present negotiations are successfully concluded, Alternative Weekly Network (AWN) next month will name Village Voice Media (VVM) Executive Vice President Albie Del Favero as its next CEO.

According to AWN interim CEO Neil Skene, the organization’s executive committee hopes to complete the negotiations in time to recommend Del Favero’s hiring at the next AWN Board meeting, which will be held in late January at AAN West.

The negotiations with Del Favero follow a long period of uncertainty about VVM’s role in AWN. Six months ago, the company revealed that it planned to leave AWN to form its own national sales network, but recently agreed to try and keep the relationship intact. In October, Del Favero told AAN News that VVM’s change-of-heart was inspired by the organizational restructuring that Skene is pursuing at AWN.

Among other things, Skene has recommended that AWN consider the possibility of opening several regional sales offices, at least two of which would be based in VVM markets. According to Skene, the prospect of regional sales offices prompted VVM to approach him in November with the idea of “tightening the alliance one step further by having Albie become the chief.”

Skene said the idea makes sense because VVM owns AWN’s two largest papers and two of the biggest revenue generators — The Village Voice in New York and LA Weekly. Nevertheless, he admits that there is a potential for conflicts of interest, since Del Favero would probably retain his staff position with VVM.

“How do we blend the advantages and the disadvantages (of hiring Del Favero as CEO)?” Skene asks. “We think we can work it out.”

Del Favero is the only candidate being considered by AWN’s executive committee, said AWN Executive Committee Chair and Isthmus Advertising Director Linda Baldwin. If negotiations fail, Skene said it would probably take AWN another few months to select a candidate.

Baldwin said the executive committee plans to make several other recommendations when AWN’s Board of Directors meet at AAN West. In addition to the CEO issue, the Board will discuss how sales are organized, how the network is structured and how the association is governed.

Del Favero and AWN Executive Director Mark Hanzlik could not be reached for comment.

Skene, who was hired to help with AWN’s reorganization efforts, will retain an executive position within the alternative newspaper industry when a full-time CEO is hired. He has accepted a position with the Creative Loafing chain as group publisher for its papers in Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. and Greenville, S.C., and as head of its interactive-publishing division.

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