Hearst’s Acquisition of Rodale Brings Sweeping Changes to Several Titles
Top editors at Men's Health, Women's Health are out, Dave Zinczenko is back, and advertising will return to Prevention.
Updated Friday, Jan. 12th at 11:30 am.
Rodale’s magazines are officially joining Hearst. Several top staffers aren’t.
As was reported last week, Hearst has closed its acquisition of Rodale’s media brands, a deal that was originally agreed upon in October. The company made things official with an announcement Tuesday morning, which included revelations about where each of the acquired Rodale brands will fit into the Hearst Magazines portfolio, as well as the future of several key former Rodale staffers.
Longtime Men’s Health publisher Ronan Gardiner, who ascended to chief advertising officer at Rodale last March, will move to Hearst as VP and publishing director of Men’s Health, Bicycling, and Runner’s World.
Not joining Hearst will be Matt Bean, who will no longer serve as editor-in-chief of Men’s Health, a role he had held since late 2016. Instead, Dave Zinczenko will return to he brand as interim editorial director, with a permanent editor-in-chief to be named in the 2nd quarter. At Rodale, Zinczenko had served as editor-in-chief of the brand from 2000 to 2012.
Also not making the move to Hearst Tower will be Women’s Health editor-in-chief Amy Keller Laird, who had held that role since 2014. Former Self deputy editor Liz Plosser has been named to that role, joining from wellness site Well+Good, where she was SVP of content.
Plosser will report to Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Michele Promaulayko, who oversees the Young Women’s group—where WH will reside alongside Cosmo and Seventeen. It’s familiar territory for Promaulayko, who was Women’s Health‘s editor-in-chief from 2009 to 2014.
Oversight of the business side of Women’s Health will be assumed by Donna Kalajian Lagani, publishing director of the Young Women’s group. The announcements make no mention of Laura Frerer-Schmidt, who has been publisher of Women’s Health since 2011 and—at Rodale—had been elevated to SVP and managing director of the brand in 2016.
Bill Strickland will remain with the aforementioned Bicycling and Runner’s World as editorial director of the newly formed Enthusiast group, which for the time being will remain based in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. Paul Collins will stay on as publisher of both titles.
Notably absent from the announcement is Betty Wong-Ortiz, who had been installed as Runner’s World‘s first female editor-in-chief back in June, at the time succeeding longtime editor David Willey. A Hearst spokeswoman, however, confirmed on Friday that Wong-Ortiz will remain editor-in-chief.
Finally, Prevention will join the Women’s Lifestyle group under Good Housekeeping editor-in-chief Jane Francisco. Maria Rodale’s much-publicized pivot, in 2016, to remove all advertising from the digest’s pages will see a reversal; Hearst plans to restore advertising to Prevention under the direction of Women’s Lifestyle group’s SVP and publishing director Pat Haegele.
On the digital side, former Men’s Health VP and publisher Chris Peel will stay on as executive director of Hearst Magazines Digital Media’s men’s and enthusiast group, which now consists of Esquire.com, MensHealth.com, PopularMechanics.com, Bicyling.com, and RunnersWorld.com. Also staying on will be Rodale COO Beth Buehler, who will oversee “strategic integration as the companies are brought together,” according to Hearst.
Asked for additional context on the changes and the future of the magazines’ existing editors, a Hearst spokesperson referred only to the company press release.
Concurrent with the close of the sale, Penguin Random House completed its purchase of publishing imprint Rodale Books.
Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated that Prevention editor Barbara O’Dair appeared to be out. A Hearst Magazines spokeswoman tells Folio: that no changes have been made to Prevention’s staff.