Baltimore Magazine gets new owner and new editor

May 08, 1992|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

An article in Friday's Sun about the sale of Baltimore Magazine said that David Whitmore would be the magazine's new art director. Mr. Whitmore is be art director of the magazine's parent company.

* The Sun regrets the error.

A group led by Susan Souders Obrecht, the publisher of Mid-Atlantic Country magazine, has purchased Baltimore Magazine, a 50,000-circulation monthly, from Capital-Gazette Communications Inc. of Annapolis.

Jonathan Witty, former editor of the Towson Times, previously owned by Ms. Obrecht, has been named the magazine's editor and associate publisher.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Mr. Witty replaces Stanley Heuisler, who was editor of the magazine for 16 years. Mr. Heuisler will remain with Capital-Gazette as its director of corporate development, investigating publishing opportunities, he said.

Avery Stirratt, formerly an advertising manager at Cosmopolitan magazine, has been appointed advertising director and associate publisher of Baltimore Magazine. He replaces Cecilia George, who also will remain with Capital-Gazette.

David Whitmore, formerly art director for Dossier magazine in Washington will take over as Baltimore Magazine's art director.

Ms. Obrecht, chairman and chief executive of ESS Ventures Inc., previously owned the Times Publishing Group, which published four weeklies, the Towson Times, the Owings Mills Times, the Baltimore Messenger and the Jeffersonian. She sold the chain to Patuxent Publishing in 1988.

In 1989, she acquired Mid-Atlantic Country, a regional travel and lifestyle magazine with a monthly circulation of about 120,000.

Ms. Obrecht said she plans to revamp Baltimore Magazine by August or September, including a change of paper, a different use of color and, possibly, changing column widths and typefaces. "I think it needs a redesign and uplift," she said.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Ms. Obrecht said she plans to expand the magazine's coverage of politics, business, fashion and arts. Book and movie reviews also will be part of the new mix, she said.

Models for her venture include Chicago Magazine, New York, Texas Monthly and San Francisco Focus. "I have a lot of respect for those publications," she said.

Although Ms. Obrecht plans to consolidate Baltimore Magazine's administrative, production and national advertising sales effort with that of Mid-Atlantic Country, the magazines will maintain separate editorial staffs, she said.

Despite the consolidation, she said, she plans to expand the 22-person staff of Baltimore Magazine by about six people, increasing its advertising sales force.

A spokesman for Capital-Gazette said the magazine was not for sale when Ms. Obrecht's offer came "out of the blue." The company initially rebuffed the offer, but Ms. Obrecht kept coming back, the spokesman said.

One of Ms. Obrecht's backers is Southeast Publishing Ventures Inc. of Charlotte, N.C. "Susan Obrecht is a very skillful entrepreneur," said Robert Garrett, the chairman of the investment group. "She has done an outstanding job with Mid-Atlantic Country and I expect her to do the same with Baltimore Magazine," he said.

Mr. Garrett is a former board member of the A.S. Abell Co., the owner of the Baltimore Sun before it was sold to Times Mirror in 1986. Reg Murphy, a former publisher of the Baltimore Sun Co., is also a director of Southeast Publishing.

Aiding in the purchase of Baltimore Magazine was T. Rowe Price's Threshold Fund. Admedia Corporate Advisors Inc., a New York-based financial advisory firm, acted as investment banker for ESS Ventures. Bank financing was provided by Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Co.

Baltimore Magazine, founded in 1907, is the oldest city magazine in the country. It was published by the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce until it was sold to Capital-Gazette in 1977.

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