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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Media Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2024 6:10 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 1816
Location: New Franklin, OH
Since yinz guys seem to be curious, tax records indicate that the 2023 property value on which the county bases its assessments was $9,007,600. Dunno what a potential selling price would be. Don't know what their equity is, either.

Owners are listed as:
KALMBACH MEDIA CO
KPK CORPORATION

No clue who KPK is. I find nothing in Waukesha that relates to a KPK.

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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Media Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2024 6:12 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 11603
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
PMC wrote:
It probably won't become (the now-defunct takeover target) Pacific Rail News, but it could become (also now-defunct) Rail Classics while it still existed, i.e. lots of pretty photos but no editorial content at all.


Rail Classics was very much an anomaly in rail enthusiast publishing. About the only explanation I can come up with was that Challenge Publications simply chose to branch out from its simultaneous creation of Air Classics and Sea Classics in 1974. It also started up Railway Quarterly in 1977. Air Classics and Sea Classics are still alive, somehow.

The thing is that in that era of the 1960s to 1990s, once you established a distribution and marketing network through distributors to newsstands, bookstores, and the like, adding another magazine was relatively low-risk and cheap. Remember, this was the day when the same delivery drivers dropped off everything from model magazines to sports mags to literary magazines to women's mags to pornography, and the dirty secret was that high profit margins in the last category kept many if not most old-time "newsstands" alive in the era and sustained distribution of lesser, cheaper magazines. The old Railroad Magazine was another that rode that same distribution system. All of this, of course, has been upended by the Internet and the decline of bookstores and magazines in general.

I find it hard to fathom that a more modern clone of Rail Classics--all pics, little to no good editorial content--could ever make it in today's market. But on the other hand, all one has to do is to look at the shelves at most grocery stores or WalMarts where periodicals are sold, and you will find any number of mostly useless, redundant one-off "special" issues inexplicably marketing anything from Taylor Swift to any odd anniversary to "buying your first [whatever]" to British royals to the Loch Ness Monster to whatever theme or tribute some publisher conjured up that week--and, to be fair, even Kalmbach has ridden this "special issue" racket in recent years.


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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Assets Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2024 6:39 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 11603
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
filmteknik wrote:
The thread title seems misleading. FM has purchsed KM's assets, right, not the company?

If that is correct my first question is, is there anything left of Kalmbach? Some publishing assets they are not selling? Or is this all of it?

And if that is correct as well then why did they not just buy Kalmbach?


They did--for the most part. Kalmbach Publishing Co. officially changed its name to Kalmbach Media some years ago, to reflect not only the print market but video and now online content. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article linked above specifies:

Quote:
Kalmbach Media will retain its online Discover Magazine, focused on science news, and Saturn Lounge, its digital marketing agency.

Around 67 of the company's 120 employees are affected by the sale and will continue to be based in Wisconsin, according to Kalmbach CEO Dan Hickey.


Quote:
Is it basically that they want the publishing assets but not the people?


AT THE MOMENT, they get everything related to the titles and book projects they bought. "The people make the magazine."

I have been in contact with a few people at Kalmbach on business matters, and THUS FAR it's "all systems go." No changes, act like nothing has changed among the rank and file. There are a few odd things that make me scratch my head, though. I'm not going into detail here, though they explained them to me in a way that makes sense.

Quote:
Does Kalmbach own their HQ building? I bet if it's sold the new owner will go with 21000 not 21027, an homage to their old location at 1027 N Seventh St. in Milwaukee.


The tweak was made when the building was being constructed and Kalmbach was buying/leasing it. I believe the number was officially recorded on deeds to the property--not that it matters that much to anyone but the old Kalmbach fans. As I said earlier, I still don't know if Kalmbach owns it outright or leases it.

Quote:
Any idea of the ownership of Kalmbach, like is it mostly family? Names that come to mind are Kalmbach, Morgan, Westcott, perhaps Ingles and Wrinn although I have no idea if any had or still had ownership slices.


You have funny ideas about how this works. Or who "family" is.
Morgan, Ingles, Westcott, etc, were all employees, not owners. There exist "employee-owned" companies (Chicago & North Western RR, for a while) and "employee co-ops," but Kalmbach was not one of them. The only names any of us would recognize that rose into the corporate ranks of Kalmbach was fellow preservationist Kevin P. Keefe or CT editor Brian Schmidt (VP-Operations). To this day, Kalmbach has been a privately-held company, and is answerable only to its shareholders (whoever they are). Indeed, a great many small companies may have some public face of "ownership" while having an army of silent shareholders, equity firms, or whatever backing them. I've read some inside business histories of some "craft brewers," and you really don't want to know the shenanigans that have gone into keeping your favorite beers on tap........


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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Media Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2024 6:46 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:48 am
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Location: Byers, Colorado
Rail Classics featured really interesting subjects that others mostly wouldn't touch --- US Sugar railroad system, Utah Railway, and International Railways of Central America, both Guatemalan and Salvadoran Divisions, to name some of my favorites.

Freeman Hubbard's Railroad Magazine is still great factual reading, plus including pictures of pretty girls, and very believably written railroad fiction. Freeman Hubbard's editorials boiled down to something a lot of people need to hear --- Got a problem ?? Get a life....

I miss them both, and treasure the few copies I have.

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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Mags, Trains.com Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2024 9:47 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:56 pm
Posts: 437
Location: Ontario, Canada.
I don't have a recent Trains handy. What is its normal page count?


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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Media Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2024 10:08 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 5:19 pm
Posts: 579
Location: Bowie, MD
Mark Hedges wrote:
Wonder if they will continue to run photo charters under the new ownership.


An article link above has this quote:

"He realized that a media business that had a large audience could be monetized through non-media opportunities. "

Anyone who hangs around steam events these days sees a lot of young folk, who I suspect have never even heard of Trains magazine. There is an opportunity there, but it won't be with a paper magazine.


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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Media Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2024 10:22 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 5:19 pm
Posts: 579
Location: Bowie, MD
Gham55* wrote:
I interviewed for a job at Kalmbach when they were still in downtown Milwaukee but already planning for a move to Waukesha. It was an interesting place, though in general it was not what I had expected.

...
30+ years later, I still haven't heard back from them. Now with Kalmbach selling to Firecrown, I can stop looking in the mailbox.

Closure is a wonderful thing.


I interviewed for a job at Kalmbach, not for Trains magazine, but for Astronomy. I was in college working on a journalism degree with a interest in science writing and was a long time amateur astronomer who had written for them.

The editor called after I got home to say, while I was the top candidate, he wasn't going to hire me because he wanted me to finish college. While I was quite pissed off, I continued to write for them and once had a full page early morning photo of N&W 1218 with Jupiter and Venus in the sky above the locomotive in both Trains and Astronomy magazine the same month.

I met my wife after the interview, so life would have been very, very different if I had been hired. Oh, and I got a job as an editor at another science magazine and realized I hated it!

While Trains seem to be a pretty good fit to the new company, it will be interesting to see how their science based assets fair. The hobby of amateur astronomy has never, ever, been bigger and has never had more money in it then it does today, partly thanks to space telescopes, amazing marketing of the science by NASA and cheap electronics, optics and software from China.


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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Mags, Trains.com Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2024 10:42 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 11603
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
Great Western wrote:
I don't have a recent Trains handy. What is its normal page count?

All the issues lying around me here I picked up (from the past two years) had 60 pages--including the front cover as Page One and the back cover as Page 60.

By contrast, all the issues of Railfan & Railroad from the past year I just looked at have been 84 pages by the same counting methodology. Railpace Newsmagazine has almost always been 48 pages as long as I can remember, not counting, say, the first couple years in the early 1980s.


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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Assets Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2024 2:38 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:58 pm
Posts: 1349
Location: Chicago USA
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
You have funny ideas about how this works.


Oh, I don't know that it's that unreasonable to think someone like DPM, so central (it would seem) to the magazine for so long might have been given a small ownership slice as part of his compensation.

We'll likely never know if it's anything other than heirs of AC Kalmbach. I seem to recall something about ownership in the USPS notice that is published, I am guessing, annually. I may look for one.


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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Mags, Trains.com Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2024 3:52 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:30 am
Posts: 293
David P. Morgan indeed had partial ownership as revealed by those annual statements of ownership, management, and circulation.


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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Mags, Trains.com Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2024 5:53 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 2780
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Many of us have complained about the poor quality of Trains website and the scatter of its product classes and offerings. My hope would be that the new corporate structure would offer efficiencies and better support for an improved digital presence.

I also hope that their editorial process will improve. I submitted an article to them three years ago, and although I did receive a personal acknowledgement, I have still today not received an answer - accept, reject.

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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Mags, Trains.com Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2024 8:23 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:23 am
Posts: 61
softwerkslex wrote:

I also hope that their editorial process will improve. I submitted an article to them three years ago, and although I did receive a personal acknowledgement, I have still today not received an answer - accept, reject.


That's to keep you from submitting it elsewhere.


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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Media Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2024 8:24 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:23 am
Posts: 61
jayrod wrote:
Owners are listed as:
KALMBACH MEDIA CO
KPK CORPORATION

No clue who KPK is. I find nothing in Waukesha that relates to a KPK.


I always naively assumed that was Kevin P. Keefe.


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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Mags, Trains.com Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2024 8:37 am 

Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:56 pm
Posts: 437
Location: Ontario, Canada.
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Great Western wrote:
I don't have a recent Trains handy. What is its normal page count?

All the issues lying around me here I picked up (from the past two years) had 60 pages--including the front cover as Page One and the back cover as Page 60.

By contrast, all the issues of Railfan & Railroad from the past year I just looked at have been 84 pages by the same counting methodology. Railpace Newsmagazine has almost always been 48 pages as long as I can remember, not counting, say, the first couple years in the early 1980s.


Thank you.
Firstly, Trains is a fine magazine and is always enjoyable and informative, as is Classic Trains.
Someone posted a news report earlier that said that Kalmbach employed 120 people.
Life should so be so sweet.
I work for a publishing company. We do two magazines. Both are printed six times per year and are from 84 to 92 pages. Our company also edits magazines for others, has a book sales division, and edits and publishes books.
We have six full time employees, three part-time, and from 10-15 freelance photographers and writers. There is only a small office for two people. All the rest of the full- and part-time staff work from home over three states and one province.
My 84 to 92-page magazine is done with two full-time staff, two part time, an ad person who works for both magazines, three freelance photographers, three freelance writers, plus another regular contributor who is paid a small recompense and who has a couple of photographers who are paid a small rate.
Obviously, it is a tougher time for printed magazines. Our subscriber base grew during the shut-down, because people were forced to stay home and wanted a nice magazine to read. News magazines and newspapers have suffered, partly because many have become partisan political rags that few people trust.
One of our competitors abruptly went on-line only last year. It is a fine publication but has had a difficult time mastering the on-line format. I had subscribers call and suggest that we better not go on-line! That magazine lost plenty of subscribers, especially older people.
Someone else mentioned news stand sales. We are in several major stores, but also go out to news stands in many variety stores and other stores. These sales are directed by private contractors who seem to fill magazine stands at stores with magazines of the contactors' choice. Locally, fewer stores have magazine stands, and I doubt they add much to the bottom line of the store owners. One local store carried our magazines, and I would buy one every issue just to encourage the contractor to keep bringing them. However, our magazines, which are wholesome publications like Trains, were tucked in amidst the soft porn and gossip stuff.
With an aging reader/subscriber base, printed magazines will continue to decline. One of my ongoing tasks has been to encourage younger readers and contributors. That has been difficult. We have some great young people in the field, but far too few.
On-line sources such as FB and others are interesting. However, they are generally haphazard and unsatisfying. Quality internet sites like RyPN allow people to post in-depth technical material and to have cogent question and answer sessions. I check FB every day to monitor our company community site in case it is infected with porn - which it is all too frequently. There is some interesting stuff on FB -- some good material lately on the CP No. 2816 tour. However, much of it is short term stuff and, for older people like myself, it all disappears into the FB ether after a few days and is hard to find.
I love to read, both books and magazines. There is something to be said about sitting down and reading through a good magazine or a good book. The scatter-brain nature of the internet does not seem to give the same pleasure.
Best wishes to Trains and to the new owners. It is certainly a publication that needs to continue.


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 Post subject: Re: Kalmbach Media Sold to Firecrown Media
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2024 9:05 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2022 8:56 am
Posts: 74
bbunge wrote:
I met my wife after the interview, so life would have been very, very different if I had been hired. Oh, and I got a job as an editor at another science magazine and realized I hated it!


Kalmbach's not hiring me was a blessing in disguise... for them as well as me. I felt bad for the editor who wanted me to start right then and there, but life went on.

My re-enactment of the back half of that interview has entertained people for years ("It's gold, Jerry! Comedy gold!"), so it all ended up as time well spent.


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