Thursday, March 22, 2018

PRESSING QUESTIONS: ION Arizona of Phoenix

Interview with Publisher Jack Tesorero
by Joe Siegel

Geographic coverage area: Throughout  Arizona with additional locations in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego and Palm Springs

Year founded: July 2001

Staff size and breakdown: 
Publisher/Founder Jack M. Tesorero, Editor Deon Brown, Creative Director Kevin Bushaw, Art Director Alex Campos, Copy Editor Austin Head, Director of Sales John Singleton, Tucson Advertising/Distribution Danny Catt, Director of Events Christopher Tong, Photographers Franklin Diaz, Leakedglass Productions, Fernando Hernandez, Scotty Kirby and RSVP Photography, Writers Addison DeWitt, Claude Edwards, Peter Lora and Miss Tiger, Distribution Paul Sanchez and Ted Kirby

Physical dimensions of publication: 5.5” x 8.5”

Average page count: 100-132

Key demographics: Gay men 18-50

Print run: 8,000

Web site: www.ionaz.com

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PPQ: What feature or features of ION Arizona have been the most popular with readers? 

Publisher Jack Tesorero: Horoscopes, gossip, and bar and nightlife guides.

PPQ: Who came up with the name and what is the inspiration for it?
Tesorero:  I moved from Detroit, fell in love with Arizona and felt the national press never gave Arizona the credit it deserved. Phoenix is now the fifth latest city in the country. The original name was Eye on Arizona —  taken from a show on The Simpsons called “Eye on Springfield” — but it was shortened to IONAZ on the premier issue, then since people where trying to pronounce IONAZ phonetically (badly), we changed it to ION Arizona.

PPQ: What challenge has your publication had to overcome since its inception? 

Tesorero: Competition. When ION started, there were only two publications, both news/politics/health/opinion. We were all entertainment/lifestyle. Since 2001, there have been more than 10 publications which have come and gone. Competition drove advertising prices down. Now that there are only two left, the print media is definitely different with competition on many fronts, including social media.

PPQ: What challenge or challenges is ION Arizona facing now?

Tesorero: In order to stay competitive and profitable, we offer social media marketing packages, sometimes without an ad buy. Also, another source of income is our signature events. We host epic pool parties, a sexiest bartender fundraising contest and an LGBT Oktoberfest. We also work with local promoters and non-profits to host smaller events at local businesses.

PPQ: How has ION Arizona changed since it was first launched?

Tesorero: When we started we were 48 pages, black and white with a color cover wrap. Back then, Abercrombie & Fitch Magazine was all black and white. We had 65 locations and we were not online. Today, we are 100-132 pages, all color, perfect bound, soft touch cover with 200-plus physical locations and available online everywhere. 

PPQ: What one change would you like to make?

Tesorero: Eliminate competition. Phoenix is a big city but doesn’t need two monthly magazines, one sports magazine, a regional publication and an annual directory. Advertisers are forced to choose where to spend their money in the LGBTQ community, so everyone struggles. Plus, we are all under attack by social media and the trend to move away from traditional media.

PPQ: What's the most surprising feedback you've received from a reader?

Tesorero: Just recently, a closeted TV reporter from our local NBC affiliate was featured on our cover. He used ION to “come out” and he said it was the best experience ever and he has never been happier. He proceeded to tell this story to the entire HRC Gala last week. 

PPQ: What advice would you give to anyone who may want to launch their own LGBT publication?

Tesorero: Invest the money that you would’ve spent starting a magazine in an aggressive mutual fund. That is not a joke. I sold my Apple stock in 2001 to start the magazine. It’s worth over $1 million today.

PPQ: There have been a number of gay publications which have either downsized their staffs or ceased operations completely. Can anything be done to reverse this trend?

Tesorero: As I said before, diversification is the key for publishing survival. Of course, cutting costs is the easiest way to save money, but without income it’s irrelevant. Make money with ads, online ads, social media, graphic design, photography and events. Don’t rely on print ads for 100 percent of your income and survival.

PRESSING QUESTIONS
Volume 19
Issue 12

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