Thursday, June 12, 2008

The `Village Voice' Alternative Media Monopoly's Hidden History--Part 9

(Most of the following article originally appeared in the October 9, 1996 issue of Downtown/Aquarian Weekly. See below for parts 1-8.)

To pick up another $5 million in 1970s money quickly, in June 1974 then-Village Voice owner Carter Burden and his Wall Street lawyer business partner, Bartle Bull, peddled the Voice off to the then-owner of the previously-competing New York magazine, Clay Felker—for about $2 million more than what Burden had paid to gain control of the Voice in 1970.

In exchange for agreeing to sell the Voice to New York magazine during the 1970s, Burden and Bull also received some New York Magazine/Village Voice Company stock.

Clay Felker and his New York magazine had been launched in the late 1960s by Felker with the financial backing of Aeneid Equities and super-rich folks like Seagram’s then-chairman of the board, Edgar Bronfman, and an investment banker named John Loeb. In 1968, New York magazine had lost $2 million, but by 1973 it had 400,000 readers and an annual profit that exceeded $400,000 in 1970s money. After Felker and the New York magazine corporate board decided it wanted to gobble up the previously-competing Voice, Felker appointed then-New York City powerbroker and Lazard Freres investment banker Felix Rohatyn to arrange the purchase of the Voice’s stable of writers and other properties from Burden.

A few months after merging the Voice and New York magazine, Felker hiked the Voice’s price from 25 cents to 35 cents in Manhattan in August 1974. Not satisfied with one price hike per year, Felker again increased the cost of the Voice to its readers to 50 cents in December 1974. Felker apparently also began to control the Voice’s editorial emphasis in an overt way, named himself the Voice Executive Editor-in-Chief and brought in former liberal New York City Mayor Lindsay’s press secretary (and former U.S. Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller’s son-in-law)—Tom Morgan—to be the Voice editor for awhile.

(Downtown/Aquarian Weekly 10/9/96)

Next: The Village Voice Alternative Media Monopoly’s Hidden History—Part 10