By Ted Nesi
PBN Web Editor
PROVIDENCE – The Providence Journal and its parent company, A. H. Belo Corp., have agreed to sell Rhode Island Monthly magazine to its longtime president and publisher, John J. Palumbo, the newspaper said yesterday. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Palumbo, a former Providence Journal Co. advertising executive, was brought in as Rhode Island Monthly’s publisher and general manager after the newspaper company bought the magazine in 1997. He was named president and publisher in 2001.
“It’s fair to say that staff here are pretty pumped,” Pippa Jack, an editor at Rhode Island Monthly, wrote on the magazine’s Web site today. “We’ve long been the odd man out in the Belo empire, the lone magazine, forced to follow all sorts of corporate strictures that don’t make sense for a small and would-be flexible outfit like us.”
Palumbo told The Journal he began talking with Howard Sutton, The Journal’s publisher, about buying Rhode Island Monthly last fall as the economy worsened and A. H. Belo’s finances deteriorated. A general agreement on the deal was reached in March, he said.
Palumbo said he will use a U.S. Small Business Administration loan to finance most of the cost of purchasing Rhode Island Monthly Communications Inc., the magazine’s parent company, which publishes a number of other small magazines and has a printing business.
The newspaper reported that a sales agreement was signed over the weekend and is expected to be finalized in about a week. Palumbo said he plans to move the company and its 25 employees to a renovated factory building at 717 Allens Ave.
Rhode Island Monthly was founded in 1987 by Daniel J. Kaplan, founder of the defunct Ocean State Business magazine, and Konrad L. Schultz, former publisher of that magazine, which ceased publication in 1990. Rhode Island Monthly’s first issue was published in April 1988.
In 1990, the magazine’s founders sold it to a New York company, Communications International, but then bought it back two years later.
The Providence Journal Co. purchased Rhode Island Monthly in April 1997, just two months after the Journal Co. itself was bought by Dallas-based Belo Corp. (Belo Corp. formed A. H. Belo Corp. last year to spin off its newspaper properties.) The Journal Co. created a new subsidiary, Rhode Island Monthly Communications Inc., to operate the magazine.
Rhode Island Monthly’s audited circulation has increased 25 percent to 44,000 issues since the Journal purchased it, and 91 percent of its copies are sold through subscriptions, the paper said.