Finn's New Biz
Fifteen months ago, CityBusiness president and publisher D. Mark Singletary dismissed the weekly business newspaper's longtime editor Kathy Finn amid mutual "philosophical differences" over the management of the paper. Today, Finn is back at the Heritage Plaza office building in Metairie, four floors up from her old digs, preparing to launch Biz Network, a magazine-radio-Web site enterprise that targets a slightly younger audience -- but the same old advertisers -- as CityBusiness.
"It is weird," she admits. "I've been here a month now and I haven't seen Mark in the elevator."
Biz Network's chief executive officer is MCMedia LLC and MCMedia owner William "Bill" Metcalf Jr., who founded CityBusiness in 1980 and sold it in 1999 to Dolan Media Company of Minnesota. The two-year non-compete clause of that deal ended in 2001, Finn says.
For former CityBusiness co-workers Metcalf and Finn, Biz Network is a professional reunion, with the added muscle of Metcalf partner Alan Campell, MCMedia COO Todd Matherne and veteran radio executive Marc Leunissen. Biz Network will be the business media division of McMedia LLC, which owns New Orleans magazine, Louisiana Life and several other local magazines, along with radio stations WGSO-AM and WFNO-AM.
Biz Network is set to debut in two stages. The Web site -- www.BizNewOrleans.com -- boots up Sept. 2 with the re-branding of WGSO-AM as Biz Radio 990. The monthly magazine starts Nov. 1. Finn will be editor-in-chief of the magazine as well as executive producer of the Web site and news director of the radio station.
Finn says Biz Network targets business audiences in the same 10-parish metro area as MetroVision, the economic development arm of the local Chamber of Commerce. "We are not going to be cheerleaders ... even though Bill (once) chaired the Chamber," Finn says.
Rather, the feature-oriented magazine will cover larger issues affecting business, such as crime, the exodus of white-collar jobs, and the economy's over-dependence on the service industry, Finn says. A mock-up of the first issue features a hunky, young entrepreneur on the cover and his quest to make $10 million. Three cover teasers promise some hard news hooks: "Did MetroVision Fail?" "Local hospitals: Are some destined to fail?" and "UNO Without O'Brien."
Finn admits to a "bad taste in my mouth" left by her stormy departure last year from CityBusiness ("Border Crossings, April 9, 2002), but she insists Biz Network is not a vehicle for personal revenge. Still, she has hired former CityBusiness news editor Keith Brannon as Biz's managing editor/senior producer, and former CityBusiness intern Anthony Mistretta as Biz's assistant editor/news producer. And if Biz cuts into CityBusiness' readership and advertising pie, she shrugs: "Well, business is business."
"The opinions from a competitor don't really affect what we do; it's more the opinions of our readers and advertisers, that are growing significantly by the way, that I care about," CityBusiness publisher Singletary said by email last week, declining further comment.
The Ball for All
The Pro Bono Project's 15th annual Justice for All Ball, supporting free civil legal services for poor metro area residents, is set for 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5 at Gallier Hall.
Roughly one-third of metro area residents live in poverty, as defined by federal income guidelines. "Without the funding that the Justice for All Ball generates for The Pro Bono Project, hundreds of area citizens would be denied access to the courts," volunteer co-chairs Pat Denechaud and Geralyn Garvey Ball said in a joint statement.
Cuisine will be provided by more than 25 top restaurants; music is by Deacon John and the Ivories, with Tony Green and Gypsy Jazz opening. Tickets are $100 each. Call 581-3480 for more information.