From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 12
By Jay Beeler
I was wrong. Last August I predicted it would take about 17 months for the new Long Beach Register to fold its tent. In reality it was only 10 months. They will become part of the equally stupid Los Angeles Register beginning this Sunday.
Undoubtedly the Los Angeles Times is shaking in it boots over the news. The Times learned decades ago that its Thursday Long Beach section was a money-losing proposition and now the LA Register will become educated to the fact.
At first you start asking why would the owners of the Orange County Register think they could cross over the “orange curtain” and compete against the Press-Telegram? Granted the owners of the P-T allowed it to be cut to the bone and their local coverage of less than 15 percent of ours was pathetic in recent years. So the one redeeming quality about the Long Beach Register is that it forced the P-T to get its act together. Let’s hope it doesn’t go downhill again.
The numbers explain why they failed: With a total circulation of 10,600 papers (about 3,000 paid circulation and 7,000 distributed free in news racks and retail stores), the LB Register was attempting to reach a population of 700,000 people in the cities of Long Beach, Lakewood, Bellflower, Hawaiian Gardens and Cerritos. Even allowing for a second pass-along person to read their publication, they were only reaching three percent of the population.
Many local merchants were fooled into believing that the LB Register was a bargain with low rates and a wide coverage area as viewed on a colorful-but-misleading distribution map. In reality, their rate per ad column inch per 1,000 recipients was more than four times that of competing publications in this marketplace. Several of our advertisers got sucked into that trap, despite our warnings to the contrary.
We did a comparison study of all local print publications in the local marketplace for Mobül, the new home mobility store on Bellflower Blvd., at about the same time as the LB Register’s August startup.
It clearly demonstrated at our 39,000 door-to-door distribution cost $8.15 per inch (per 1,000 papers) versus the Register’s $38.11 per inch (per 1,000 papers) scattered over a very large area. The numbers were all based on a quarter-page, color advertisement on a frequency discount agreement.
The relatively new owner of Freedom Communications, which publishes the OC Register, is Aaron Kushner, who made a fortune in the greeting card business, where he should have stayed. Unlike Warren Buffet, who leveraged income to build a vast fortune, Kushner went on a newspaper spending spree like a drunken sailor. In this business it’s better to build your advertising base and use that money to grow your distribution area and new publications in other markets.
Rumor has it that Kushner did attempt to purchase one local bi-weekly publication, but the publisher would not sell. Undoubtedly he is holding out for the same reported just-under $10 million selling price of the Gazette newspapers ten years ago.
In the 14 years that we have been publishing the Beachcomber, we have seen several publications come and go, including The District Weekly, View from the Hill, Bixby Beat, City Beat, Wrigley Bulletin, Long Beach Times, Long Beach Magazine, LB Post and now the LB Register. The biggest lesson we learned is that you cannot survive by spending more than you earn. Too bad Aaron Kushner is learning that the hard way, at the expense of the many staffers who are now unemployed.
Congratulations to Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell on his impressive win at the polls last week in the race to become the next Los Angeles County Sheriff. With 49 percent of the vote he far outpaced the nearest contender, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who garnered less than one-third of that amount at 15 percent. Both will face off in the November 4 general election. The smart money is on McDonnell to win.
Four of McDonnell’s former contenders for the position came together last Thursday to endorse him for the job. They include bob Olmsted, a retired LASD commander, Assistant Sheriffs Jim Hellmond and Todd Rogers, and Lou Vince, a detective supervisor for the Los Angeles Police Department. “The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is going to be in good hands with Jim,” said Olmsted at a press conference announcing the endorsements.
My wife claims that I am president of the Jim McDonnell fan club. I’ll accept that badge of honor on behalf of our Park Estates neighbor and wish him continued success as “the new sheriff in town.”
Wanna become a member? Send $99 to Jim McDonnell for Sheriff, c/o Beachcomber, PO Box 15679, LB 90815. You will receive a Jim McDonnell for Sheriff button and the proceeds will be donated to his campaign.