Radar's Relatively Long, Strange Trip Comes to an End
Radar magazine, the pop-politics-gossip-glamour mash-up that had relaunched earlier this year with the $25 million backing of financiers Mort Zuckerman and Jeffrey Epstein, is set to fold. An internal announcement was made late Wednesday to staffers; it appears the current November-December issue, its third since being relaunched, will be its last.
In a statement, Zuckerman and Epstein cited "the current economic environment" and the "magazine's lack of advertising traction" as reasons to cease publishing. "Three subsequent issues have since been published, but the financial picture has not improved," the release read. However, a source close to the magazine says Radar's would-be February-March issue had already sold $1.4 million worth of advertising weeks before the close. "They're leaving $1.4 million on the table," the source said.
The source also indicated at least four different groups of investors have expressed interest in the publication since Zuckerman made it clear last month that he would be ending his investment. It is unclear what will become of its flashy Web site, radaronline.com , which in recent months had taken to reporting media and magazine gossip alongside its celebrity-tinged fare.
For whatever reason, the magazine and its editor Maer Roshan always seemed to generate a disproportionate amount of reverb in the buzzy New York media world. Roshan's initial launch of Radar in 2003 yielded buzzed-about test two issues, and his search for funding even more. (In an article about the relaunch, a New York Times headline gushed that Radar would be revived with a "Ballast of a Web Site First.")
"The magazine built up brand recognition and credibility that many magazines spend years and millions of dollars trying to attain," Roshan said in a statement that hinted at upping the ante again. "We are currently engaged in productive discussions with a number of new investors and I look forward to continuing operations in the near future." He also thanked the staff of roughly 20-25 for their hard work.
Gawker, the uberhip New York media blog that had incessantly skewered the magazine and Roshan for weeks leading up to its return, dubbing it the "Greatest American Magazine Launch, " replete with a logo, and prompting Roshan to send a pie hurtling at Gawker head Nick Denton during the magazine's relaunch party, acknowledged the news with a seemingly heartfelt post: "It was an interesting and increasingly excellent magazine; it was a game and noble foil; and it was a well-paying gig for any number of friends. RIP, Radar, and our deepest condolences to Maer and his prodigiously talented staff."
"We now have a firm investment that we didn't have before. Those first issues were a gamble," Roshan told FOLIO: M10 in October 2004, shortly after securing Zuckerman and co.'s backing. "We had an idea. What we didn't have was money.