Rumors circulating in recent weeks that Utah Holiday magazine was near bankruptcy and about to cease publication were put to rest Wednesday with the announcement that the 17-year-old magazine has been bought - the second time since December - by a Cedar City firm.
Tuesday Publishing Inc., which publishes Midflight, a bimonthly in-flight magazine for St. George-based SkyWest Airlines; Midsummer Magazine, the annual publication of the Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City; and Highlights, a yearly Iron County publication, is the new owner of Utah Holiday.The price paid for the magazine to previous owner Golden Wood Inc. and its principal, Jeffrey J. Jonas, was not disclosed. Utah Holiday founder Robert J. Coles will remain as publisher under the new owners.
"We know that the sale of a magazine twice within six months is a bit unusual and lends itself to all kinds of rumors among advertisers and readers," said Bruce Lee, president of Tuesday Publishing and the new editor of Utah Holiday.
"However, we want to quickly reinforce the trust that people have in Utah Holiday. We are in this for the long haul and plan to be around for a long time." Lee said all operations of Utah Holiday will remain in Salt Lake City.
Jeff Ray is vice president of Tuesday Publishing and will become art production director for UH. He and Lee are sole owners of Tuesday Publishing. Both men agree that the basic format and editorial content of Utah Holiday is good and, for the present, will make only minor changes in look and content.
"We're young and we have lots of ideas," said Ray, "but we are mainly interested in learning the desires of our readers and advertisers before we make any major moves. Thus, changes other than minor ones may come more slowly."
Although they will continue to live in Cedar City "at least temporarily," Lee and Ray said they will both commute to Salt Lake City and work full time on UH.
"We think some fine tuning must be done," said Lee, "such as a concerted effort to increase circulation. But the magazine has credibility and is well respected among readers, advertisers and community leaders. We only want to build on that foundation." Lee said UH currently has 12,000 monthly mail subscribers and sells about 4,000 on newsstands.
Lee said Tuesday Publishing has been looking to expand for some time but had no idea UH was for sale until he received a call 10 days ago from Coles.
Utah Holiday's internal problems came to light early last month when veteran UH editor Paul Swenson, managing editor Barbara Bannon and book editor John Sil-lito resigned.
The mass exit was a clear indication that all was not well with the publication that began as an events agenda for tourists and later evolved into an editorial potpourri of fiction, liberal politics, dining out and interior decor features, investigative reporting, journalism community gossip and an annual "Best and Worst" issue that delighted recipients of the former and outraged those categorized as the latter.
The Best and Worst will live on under the new owners, assured Lee, in the upcoming August issue - the first issue that will be solely the work of the new owners. Although the sale is effective immediately, most of the July issue's editorial content is already completed.
Currently there are eight staffers, not including Lee and Ray. Asked about the possibility of Swenson and/or Bannon (who also served as film and theater critics, respectively) returning, Lee was noncommittal. "We haven't finalized some of our plans. I will be editor long term. As far as other personnel, we still have a lot of decisions to make. There was an interim period when several people left, but no one has contacted us about returning."