SOURCE: Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC
January 26, 2011 09:30 ET
The Village Voice Publisher to Step Down
SF Weekly Publisher Josh Fromson Will Take Reins of New York Publishing Icon
NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - January 26, 2011) - After more than a quarter-century in the alternative weekly publishing business, Michael Cohen is leaving The Village Voice.
Taking Cohen's place as publisher will be longtime Village Voice Media (VVM) colleague Josh Fromson, who will resign as publisher of SF Weekly in San Francisco and move to New York.
To aid Fromson during the transition, Cohen will remain at the Voice until April 1, at which point Fromson will officially take the reins.
"I've worked with Michael Cohen for over 25 years and he's done an outstanding job for us in every assignment he's undertaken," said Jim Larkin, Village Voice Media Holdings Chief Executive Officer. "However, the repositioning of The Village Voice has been his clearest achievement. The Voice is now firmly profitable and poised to grow again, and it's through Michael's leadership that this happened."
Cohen has worked in alternative media ever since graduating from the University of Maryland in 1983. He has published or launched alternative weeklies in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Miami, and has overseen as many as five additional publications as a group publisher with the VVM group.
After taking the helm in New York in January 2006, Cohen was quickly faced with what he called "the most challenging business and media environment in my lifetime." But his digital sales strategy aimed at younger readers kept The Voice profitable even as many other New York publications floundered. The Voice has achieved significant digital growth year-over-year, every year, during Cohen's tenure and today is the leading web property in the VVM chain in both revenue and traffic. In December 2010, villagevoice.com had more than 1.5 million unique visitors.
"I'm proud to say we also expect to see more revenue growth in 2011," noted Cohen, who said he's still firming up his future plans. "I'm hoping a few people will miss me," he added, "and I'm looking forward to my next act, which will most certainly be in media."
VVMH president and Chief Operating Officer Scott Tobias said he's sorry to lose Cohen, whom he described as an invaluable partner and friend.
"We're very disappointed to see Michael leaving; he's done an incredible job for us in New York," said Tobias. "At the same time, there's not a better publisher in the country to take the reins than Josh Fromson."
Like Cohen, Fromson has a history of overcoming adversity and thriving in challenging environments.
After attending the University of Arizona in Tucson, Fromson went to work for VVMH predecessor New Times Media in 1999 as an account executive at Phoenix New Times. Rising quickly through the ranks, he was promoted to sales director in Phoenix and advertising director at the Riverfront Times in St. Louis, where he was named advertising director of the year in 2004.
Fromson became publisher of SF Weekly in 2005, and during his five-year tenure has overseen a nine-fold increase in that publication's digital revenue despite facing a rocky economy and a nuisance suit filed by weekly competitor the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
The Guardian's below-cost pricing suit was settled earlier this month after a recalcitrant California Supreme Court refused to bring that state's laws into line with federal antitrust precedent. But despite the cost and distraction of the legal fight, SF Weekly has continued to drub the Guardian in readership and eclipse it in relevance.
SF Weekly's lead is especially significant online. In December 2010, sfweekly.com had 843,212 unique visitors, and the Alexa traffic-ranking site shows SF Weekly ranked 3,795 among all American websites, compared to the Guardian at 28,264.
One reason for the Weekly's growth is Fromson's addition of a line of signature community events, including the celebration of local art and artists known as Artopia; the All Shook Down music festival in North Beach; the Dish food gathering featuring cuisine from local restaurants; and an annual Web Awards gala that highlights the best Bay Area blogs and websites.
Taking over for Fromson at SF Weekly will be Bay Area native Gil Padia, moving up from his present position as SF Weekly advertising director.
About Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC
Village Voice Media Holdings (VVMH) is the ultimate parent of 14 weekly newspapers and daily websites, including The Village Voice in New York, LA Weekly, Denver's Westword and the Phoenix New Times referred to as the "companies." Online, in print, and on mobile devices, the companies' properties combine music, food and events coverage with gritty, hard-hitting journalism to create the most powerful city guides in each market. While the focus of the brand is local, each of the Company's free classifieds site backpage.com, partnership with social recommendation engine LikeMe.Net and national sales force, allow VVMH and the companies to extend their reach to a national level.