Mort pulls the plug on Radar magazine
Citing tough ad climate for hip-skewing title
December 15, 2005
When Maer Roshan’s Radar relaunched last June, amid a buzz of New York media chatter, two questions arose: Did America need or want this new magazine aimed at an elite of hip young trendsetters?
The second was whether its chief backer, Mort Zuckerman, would stick around long enough to find out.
The answer for the second question came yesterday, and it effectively answered the first: No.
With just three issues published, Zuckerman yanked his financial support of Radar, citing the negative ad climate. A statement released by the magazine quotes him as saying, “The current economic environment–primarily reflected in the magazine’s lack of advertising traction–no longer makes it feasible to continue publishing.”
The November-December issue, now on the stands, looks to be Radar’s last unless Roshan can find new backers in a hurry.
Radar’s closing, first reported yesterday on the blog Gawker, which has obsessed over the magazine through its brief life, does not come as a big surprise.
For all the initial buzz, Radar’s first issue underwowed, with critics complaining that it seemed either a rehash of stories printed elsewhere or, perhaps even more damning, of its former self. Roshan had published two issues in 2003 before running out of capital.
Media buyers were notably unimpressed. One told Media Life at the time that Radar seemed too nichy and perhaps better suited for the internet. It seems like a mish-mosh of things. It seems like it’s going to be very niche, for these people that like online sites.
Still, the sense then was that Roshan, by most accounts a brilliant editor who had worked at Talk under Tina Brown as well as at New York, would in time find his pace, raising the hipness factor of Radar to the anticipated levels. The issue was just how much time he had.
The feeling was that he had very little, perhaps a few months, and as it turned out, that was a solid estimate.
Zuckerman, owner of the New York Daily News and U.S. News & World Report, was growing increasingly impatient with the losses of his newsmagazine. While he committed $25 million to Radar, along with co-investor Jeffrey Epstein, a financier, the magazine was not his first choice–he had only recently lost out on a bid for New York magazine–and his commitment to Radar seemed tentative at best.
Radar launched without a dedicated ad sales team, relying instead on the sales staff of U.S. News, itself struggling in the red. It was an odd pairing, considering the vastly different audiences. Radar targeted young, educated professionals with a median age of 31 and a household income of $75,000+. It launched with a rate base of 150,000.
It was also at a time when both U.S. News and the Daily News were undergoing rounds of job cuts. Employees at both publications were irked that Zuckerman was investing in a startup title at the same time that he was cutting costs at his existing publications.
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