The Village Voice, which has been hard to find on newsstands since 2017, has hired the former CEO of Dan’s Papers with bold plans to start publishing a regular print edition by early next year, Media Ink has learned.

Steven McKenna starts as chief revenue officer of the iconic paper on July 6 — working first on a commemorative issue for 9/11.

“I think we will go monthly through December,” he said of the paper’s print plans. After that, he said, the goal is to return to print every other week.

The Village Voice was the nation’s first alternative newsweekly when it was founded in 1955, and it quickly gained a following for its colorful features and cutting critiques.

But its former owner, Peter Barbey — who was originally hailed as a savior — dropped print in 2017 and stopped publishing altogether the following year.

Brian Calle’s Street Media bought the paper in December 2020 with plans to first restart the website and then return to print.

To that end, the Voice produced 50,000 copies of a little-noticed print prototype in the spring, overseen by acting managing editor R.C. Baker, a veteran of the old Village Voice. Street Media also owns LA Weekly, Irvine Weekly and San Francisco’s Marina Times.

One of the first goals, of course, is to help Street Media land an editor-in-chief. “I’ve sent a few names to Brian (Calle),” said McKenna, a longtime newspaper veteran.

But he likened his overall task at the Voice to the business diversification effort he pushed at Dan’s Papers when it was owned by Richard Burns’ Manhattan Media.

The Village Voice newspaper box
The Village Voice dropped its print edition in 2017 and stopped publishing altogether soon after. A new owner bought it in 2020 with plans to restart the brand.
Christopher Sadowski

“When I got there, it had one event, when I left we were doing 14 major events that brought in $2 million a year,” he said of Dan’s.

At the Voice, he said, “We have to diversify with events, publications, digital and combo packages.”

“My job is to support the editorial mission by raising enough revenue to get it back to where it once was, and even better,” he said.

Dan's Papers cover featuring an illustration of dozens of people on a beach
Steven McKenna spent eight years running Dan’s Papers.
Handout

McKenna is the first staffer hired by Street Media in New York as the 66-year-old publication, which counts three Pulitzer Prizes along with a George Polk Award in its storied past, starts over from scratch.

He spent eight years running Dan’s and was there for the acquisition of The Independent from Ron Perelman. He left when Schneps Publications acquired Dan’s Independent Media last year.

Richard Burns, his former boss at Dan’s, said of McKenna, “He was behind some of the ground-breaking changes that transformed Dan’s from a one-horse local newsprint paper to the Hamptons’ leading multimedia business. He’s exactly what a lapsed brand like the Voice needs.”

Steven McKenna wearing sunglasses
Steven McKenna, newly tapped to be chief revenue officer of the Village Voice, says diversifying revenue with events, publications, digital and combo packages will be a necessity.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Earlier in his career, McKenna spent 18 years at Newsday as the head of retail advertising, where he weathered the paper’s infamous circulation pumping scandal under Tribune Publishing.

Nine Newsday executives were sentenced to probation in 2008 for pumping Newsday’s circulation and its sister publication Hoy’s from 2000 to 2004. Newsday voluntarily refunded $96 million to advertisers and paid $15 million in federal fines. McKenna’s job was to try to keep the advertisers happy through the turmoil. “My group was handling about $180 million in business,” he said.

McKenna’s plans for the Voice were echoed by CEO Calle in an interview he did with the LA Times shortly after he bought the Voice in 2020. Calle said, “Besides its reputation for hard-hitting investigative journalism — which is going to be needed in the aftermath of COVID — people are going to want to go out, whether it’s to concerts or festivals or nightlife or food or art or the theater. The Voice is probably more important than ever.”

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