Local Investors Buy WP Magazine

New Ownership for FL Home Media LLC

Local Investors Buy WP Magazine

 

Winter Park Publishing Company LLC, a new company comprised of community leaders, has purchased the assets of Sarasota-based Florida Home Media, LLC, among them the award-winning Winter Park Magazine, which circulates primarily in Winter Park and Maitland. The purchase price was not disclosed.

In addition to Winter Park Magazine, the company publishes ArtsLife, the official magazine of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, and Florida Homebuyer Orlando, a consumer publication focused on the new-home industry.

Community Asset

“I’m pretty sure that an effort like this is unprecedented in this business,” said long-time editor and publisher Randy Noles, who is a shareholder and CEO of the new company. “People have come to regard Winter Park Magazine as a community asset and were very excited about the opportunity to be involved in this purchase.”

Florida Home Media was originally a spinoff of Sarasota Magazine and Gulfshore Life in Naples, both of which were owned by Dan Denton of Sarasota. Denton recently sold both highly successful magazines to national media companies.

Noles and Denton worked together for 18 years. Noles opened the Orlando division in 2004, and served as a consultant to the magazines in Sarasota and Naples.

“We could have gone the same route in the Orlando market and sought a national buyer,” said Denton, a member of the Florida Magazine Association Hall of Fame. “But given the character of Winter Park Magazine and its standing in the community, we thought it should be owned locally.”

Investors Stand In Line

Noles approached Allan E. Keen, CEO of The Keewin Real Property Company, and Richard J. Walsh, president of Knob Hill Group, requesting help in assembling an investor group to buy the company. Walsh was a co-founder of Winter Park Magazine and published it for three years until it was bought by Florida Home Media in 2012. Keen and Walsh agreed to lend their support and within weeks 44 local investors agreed to get involved.

Editorial Independence Intact

Noles emphasized that the Winter Park Magazine’s editorial independence would not be compromised. He noted the investor group includes people who hold a variety of opinions about local issues, but who are united in their belief that Winter Park is a special place.

“I have no experience in media assets, but my love for Winter Park and the amazing quality of Winter Park Magazine under Randy’s leadership made this an easy decision for Linda and me to invest, and to ask others to join,” said Allan Keen.

Local Ownership Is Key

Walsh added, “This investment not only ensures that a community asset remains under local ownership, but it’s also going to be enjoyable for our shareholders. All of them are proud of their community and view the magazine as the embodiment of that pride.”

In addition to Noles, Keen and Walsh, Theresa Swanson, publisher of Florida Homebuyer Orlando and a leader in the region’s new-home industry, will also be actively involved in the company’s management.

Community Owners

Larry and Joanne Adams; The Albertson Company, Ltd.; Richard O. Baldwin Jr.; Jim and Diana Barnes; Brad Blum; Ken and Ruth Bradley; John Caron; Bruce Douglas; Steve Goldman; Hal George; Michael Gonick; Micky Grindstaff; Marc Hagle; Larry and Jane Hames; Eric and Diane Holm; Garry and Isis Jones; Allan E. and Linda S. Keen; Knob Hill Group (Rick and Trish Walsh, Jim and Beth DeSimone, Chris Schmidt); Mitch Lasky; Drew and Paula Madsen; Kevin and Jacquelin Maddron; Kenneth J. Meister; Jack Myers; Ann Hicks Murrah; Jack Myers; Michael P. O’Donnell; Nicole and Mike OKaty; Bill and Jody Orosz; Martin and Ellen Prague; Serge and Kerri Rivera; Theresa Swanson; Sam Stark; Theresa Swanson; Randall J. Robertson; George Sprinkel; Philip Tiedtke; Roger Thompson; Ed Timberlake; Harold and Libby Ward; Warren “Chip” Weston; Thomas H. Yochum; and Victor and Jackie A. Zollo.

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    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

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16 replies
  1. Where'd The Truth Go? says:

    First Winter Park Maitland Observer was sold. Then last week Winter Park Magazine sold. Both new ownership groups are supportive of controversial development and political interests. Ken Bradley and Sprinkel for example, are now part owners of Winter Park Magazine, according to a recent Orlando Business Journal article.

    Guess we can count on lots of free publicity for Leary in Winter Park Magazine coming up during the months prior to the 2018 municipal election, huh?

    And the drumbeat for more demolition and massive scale rebuilding in Winter Park will undoubtedly lace the pages of what once was a pretty good magazine.

    This most recent transaction leaves The Voice as the only remaining independent news operation in Winter Park that serves the residents.

    Reply
    • Pitt Warner says:

      blah blah blah. Anonymous commentators are either delusional or chicken scared to post their name with their opinion. And Anne Mooney congratulates them! Whatever happened to character?

      Reply
      • Cigar says:

        Whenever Pitt starts in with one of his “anonymous commenter” reactions, we know that his target commenter’s point is a bulls eye from an accuracy standpoint, and one that some people in town would rather no one else learned about.

        There’s only two ways to win an election. 1) Through the media and 2) Through the media. That wasn’t a typo. There’s paid media (the campaign flyers in your mailbox, yard signs, radio and internet ads, etc.) And there’s the “free” media – newspaper and magazine articles, etc.

        Call it what you want, but the list of the new magazine’s owners curiously omitted mentioning the PERCENT ownership of each person listed. So, it’s entirely possible (some would say probable) that well over 50% of OWNERSHIP (even if not of NUMBER of owners) have a development editorial agenda in mind for the magazine. That would occur for example, if Investor A owns 25%, Investor B owns 30%, Investor C owns 40%, and all the other “owners” collectively own 5%.

        The long list of owners in the magazine’s news release could be simply a smokescreen to provide cover for the majority owners, who prefer not to be identified by residents as having editorial “pull.” And make no mistake. Majority owners of ANY publication ALWAYS have editorial pull. Think about it. Why would they publish the names of all the owners? No other business with that many owners does. The release to the public of the names of the new owners may be just to mask what is possibly, and I emphasize possibly because I don’t really know for sure, an intention to influence Winter Park voters through the magazine. (And it’s also important to note that some times in during changes in ownership, the editor is the last one to learn about such things.)

        But only the most naive would believe, with any certainty, that so many astute development oriented individuals investing in the magazine, who admittedly know nothing about magazine publishing business, would buy this for what has to be a rather large amount of money, unless they believe that it’s in their best interests to incline the minds of Winter Park voters – many of whom read the magazine regularly – towards the majority owners’ way of thinking about Winter Park (perhaps as one big development project with multiple phases).

        Election flyers end up in the trash can. Winter Park magazine sits in living rooms, on coffee tables, in doctors waiting rooms, etc. for months and years at a time. So folks, I’d be very surprised if, considering the reported ownership group, the magazine doesn’t become thinly veiled development hype, converting the unsuspecting reader over time, subliminally, through the magazine’s choice of featured articles and persons published in each issue.

        Because when minds change, votes change.

        And some on the list are apparently uncomfortable with the number of 3-2 City Commission votes on controversial development projects, would greatly prefer 5-0, and are willing to invest in media towards that objective. They have learned that some Winter Park voters react negatively to negative campaign flyers, but on the other hand, an article in an attractive magazine that makes a certain city commissioner sound like Atilla the Hun for not supporting a “fashionable,” “chic,” and “glamorous,” new development project (even if none of the adjectives are accurate), complete with glossy color photos of attractive models standing next to “preliminary” artist renderings of said project, can influence voters in ways cruder and more primitive means have not.

        Readers of “Voice” need to be cognizant of how the game is played. Because what won you elections in the past may not be enough to win them in the future, if your political foes have what now appears to be tacit control of the major Winter Park newspaper and the major magazine.

        The magazine essentially becomes a campaign vehicle any time the owners want it to. And unless prohibited by law, the magazine could choose to send a “free” copy of the issue coinciding with the next election to the home of every Winter Park voter. Think about that. And plan accordingly.

        Reply
        • Randy Noles says:

          Because of the number of community investors — and the small investment increments that were offered — the scenario you described would be impossible. No single “non-employee” investor owns more than 2.95% of the company. And, as you can see from reviewing the individual names, our investors have very diverse backgrounds and opinions. They appreciate Winter Park Magazine precisely because it is not political, and because it celebrates the city’s culture and history. They invested because they support the magazine’s mission, and believe it has a positive impact on our community.
          Randy Noles, Editor & Publisher, Winter Park Magazine

          Reply
        • WP Magazine Reader says:

          So why the mystery? Why not just publish the percent ownership of each owner alongside their name? And for those who are “employees” publish their title and functional responsibilities as well. If not, we are left to assume that ownership is concentrated among a few individuals. Why not get this new chapter in the magazine off to a good start by being completely open and candid with readers about the new ownership?

          Reply
          • Anonymous says:

            The employees who are also shareholders — Randy Noles and Theresa Swanson — are listed in the masthead. Of the investors who are not employees, no one owns more than 2.93%, as I said previously. Why the mystery indeed, “Winter Park Magazine Reader?” Why not just call me?

        • Stubborn Math says:

          It would help to know the total purchase price as well as the percent ownership for each individual. These types of investments initially have a way of attracting people who want their name associated with the publication, either to influence content, or for prestige (bragging rights). And since it appears that fractions of percentage interests were offered, it is possible that some or most of the 60 individuals listed, currently own less than 1% of the magazine each, still leaving the question remaining, “Among which of those individuals listed is the ownership concentrated?”

          Often, in similar investments, after the initial excitement and luster of ownership has worn off, those who believe their investment is not yielding the return (in dollars) that they may have hoped, may look to sell their interest. It would be interesting to know if the sale of ownership in these instances is limited, by agreement to that of the other owners, or if a right of first refusal or buyback agreement exists, or if someone could sell their interest to absolutely anyone. In other words, is ownership tightly controlled and limited to certain “approved” persons, or could any investor sell their interest in the magazine to anyone, at any time, without restriction?

          If the idea was to make it a magazine owned by the community, how many readers of Winter Park Voice were offered ownership? I wasn’t. Were you? Sixty investors. Thirty thousand Winter Park residents. That’s not very representative. No public offering of shares. Community owned? Or owned by an elite clique? Who decided who would be asked to invest – and, more importantly, who specifically would NOT be asked to invest?

          If, as we are told, no one other than “employees” owns more than 2.95%, individually, and there are 14 married couples listed. That means that only 14 married couples could possibly already own 82% (14 couples times 2 people per couple times 2.95% = 82%) – even at only 2.95% per person. That assumes none of the persons in the couples is an “employee” who owns more than 2.95%

          What that means in English is that fewer than 10 married couples could, based on what little we have been told about ownership, right now, have total control of the magazine, together owning more than 50%, even if none of them are “employees” (some of them may be). Fewer than 10 married couples hardly seems like a “diverse” ownership group. And because it still hasn’t been disclosed exactly the percentage ownership of each person listed, ownership control of the magazine could be even fewer than that very small number of people.

          Or some individual or married couple listed could be an “employee” and already own 51% all by themselves. We don’t know because the magazine is thus far playing its cards close to its vest, and releasing only very few details about the new ownership arrangement. Winter Park deserves to know more.

          Reply
          • Snoop says:

            According to public records on SunBiz.org, Alan Keen is managing Winter Park Publishing Company, LLC, the company that the article says now owns Winter Park Magazine.

            So, without the magazine providing its readers with even so much as an organizational chart of the new company, we have to assume Keen is at the top of the organization, and Noles is somewhere down the ladder. I don’t know If Noles would call Keen an “employee,” but what else would Keen be if he’s running the company?

            How much ownership percentage Keen (and his related parties) has (or will have in the future) is anybody’s guess. Keen happens to be both a real estate developer and Chairman of the Board of Rollins College. And it’s unlikely that Noles would tell us how much of the company Keen owns, considering Keen apparently outranks Noles in the newly formed company.

            Readers can decide for themselves if Winter Park Magazine has a development slant in the months and years to come. An easy way would be to count the number of pages devoted to old buildings, old founders, and old traditions of Winter Park. Compare that to the number of pages devoted to new buildings, new developers, and new concepts.

  2. Anne Mooney - It's Going to be Okay says:

    Thank you for your comment, and for the compliment.

    I have known Winter Park Magazine editor Randy Noles for a long time. I would be shocked if anyone, no matter who they are, was able to exert the slightest bit of editorial influence over the content of WP Magazine as long as Randy is at the helm.

    I congratulate the new owners and applaud them for continuing to publish Winter Park Magazine. The magazine is a valued cultural feature of our community. The list of new owners is diverse politically and, as an editor, Randy is politically agnostic. In fact, one the magazine’s great charms is the surcease from local politics the reader can find in its pages. I hope you’ll join me in wishing them all the very best in their new endeavor.

    Reply
  3. Mark says:

    Any changes, if there are any, will be readily apparent upon publication. My observations have been that the main focus of the magazine is on history, photography and art, local events, unusual articles you would not see elsewhere-overall, the articles are well-written and the photography superb. Never seen politics in it.

    Reply
  4. Greta says:

    I agree it’s not political.

    What it does seem to be, however, is a flyer packed with nothing but ads and the occasional puff-piece for friends, advertising businesses, and other financial backers.

    Perhaps now that it does not need to turn a profit to exist the cover to cover commercials will be less prominent as I suspect it shall become a vanity project for those involved.

    I fully expect to see all the “community leaders” (i.e. those that paid up) giving each other awards. The whole thing is kind of nauseating, though I do think the cover art is often pretty and well executed.

    Reply
  5. Squirrels Hide Nuts says:

    I don’t know about the WP Magazine deal. But a lot of times when there is an aquisition, the new owners play all nice with the existing talent on board at first. And the changes don’t appear until later. That could accelerate though in this case, due to Leary not being a popular mayor with the election only months away, and the plans for a lot more really big development in Winter Park in the near future.

    It’s hard to envision this ownership group sitting on their hands for long when they see yet another story about “This Old House.” Hope Noles was smart enough not to sign a non compete agreement, or at least to talk to his lawyer before he does. Noles has a lot of talent and there’s probably room for more than one magazine in Winter Park.

    If all but a few of the owners have only a miniscule sliver of the pie, their main use to the big fish in the deal could be to work their professional networks for subscriptions. But unless the owners are as diverse as claimed, they all might have the same 200 friends. And it’s hard to make a buck with only 200 subscribers.

    Reply
  6. Thaddeus Seymour says:

    I read the papers and listen to the news and think our country is going nuts. At least Winter Park has its head on straight — most of the time.

    And then I read all these letters in the “Winter Park Voice.” Have we gone nuts, too?

    This handsome, extremely readable chronicle of our community, usually about the best of our town, gets clobbered because a group of caring neighbors want to keep it that way. What a great group, including some of my very best friends!

    I worry about Washington, Charlottesville, North Korea. But I sure don’t worry about “Winter Park Magazine.” It was in good hands, and now it’s in better hands.

    Reply
    • The Best of Winter Park says:

      Amen, Thad. By the way, that sure was a fine article about your wife that the most recent issue of Winter Park Magazine ran.

      Reply
  7. Thank You says:

    Thank you Winter Park Magazine for all that you were. We will never forget you.

    As its page turns from the romanticization of historic homes and long loved trees, traditions, and teachers. And becomes the glamorization of developers, development, and dollars. We will always remember, with gratitude, what Winter Park Magazine was.

    Reply

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