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We open a new chapter with Active Interest Media

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Well, a lot’s happened in the month or so since you received your last issue of Woodshop News. I’ll try to help you catch up.

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In July, it was announced that Soundings Publications — publishers of Woodshop News and two marine titles, Soundings and Soundings Trade Only — had been officially sold to Active Interest Media. The deal had been in the works for the better part of two months, so the announcement was hardly a surprise. For those of you who pay any attention to the media business, mergers and acquisitions have become standard fare.

This is the fourth time I’ve been “sold” in a journalism career spanning 20-plus years.

Woodshop News has an interesting 25-year history. It was started by Jack Turner, a hobbyist woodworker with newspaper ink in his veins. Soundings editor Bill Sisson recently wrote, “our journalistic heritage stems from Jack Turner, who founded [Soundings] many moons ago sitting around a kitchen table with two co-conspirators and a bottle of gin. True story. Their goal in 1963 was to challenge the status quo.”

Consider the status quo changed, Jack. Turner sold his three magazines to Trader Publishing in 1997, with Trader eventually being renamed Dominion Enterprises, a division of Landmark Media Enterprises. Under Dominion, Woodshop News was transformed from a 10-3/4” x 13-1/2” tabloid printed mostly on newspaper stock to our current glossy, 9” x 10-7/8” format, and a significant online presence was added. The magazine’s content and journalistic roots remained.

So now we start a new chapter with AIM, founded by Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III and a private equity group in 2003. Yes, Zimbalist is the son of the actor who starred in the “77 Sunset Strip” and “The FBI” television series. AIM publishes nearly 40 titles that, as the company’s name suggests, cater to active interests, such as Yoga Journal and Backpacker magazines. AIM produces the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, so our marine titles have a familiar port. AIM also publishes Old-House Journal and Arts & Crafts Homes in its Home Buyer magazine division, where Woodshop News will coexist.

We’re stilled based in Essex, Conn., and challenging the status quo with our wood industry coverage. The only real difference is I’ve got a lot of new bosses and I’ll need to remember their names.

So what else happened in July? Oh yeah, the year’s biggest trade show, the AWFS fair in Las Vegas. We were there in full force and our coverage begins on Page 9 with reaction from the exhibitors and producers, winners of the coveted Sequoia awards (Page 10), new tool and machine introductions (Page 14), and woodworking education initiatives (Page 52).

My impressions from the show are of an industry finally at peace with the country’s economic struggles. Yes, the economy still stinks, but it is what it is and it’s time to do business. That’s what exhibitors and attendees were saying, even if they didn’t quite say it as eloquently as I have.

Finally, congratulations to staff writer Jennifer Hicks for winning an Apex Award of Excellence. Her profile of W. Patrick Edwards, “A life-changing calculation” (November 2010), was recognized in the feature writing category.

This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue.

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