Robert E. Petersen built a name for himself in the publishing world over the last 50 years putting out niche magazines, and with the exception of Teen, they all reflected his personal interests.
But four years ago, he sold his 32-title Petersen Publishing Inc. (with such titles as Hot Rod, Skin Diving and Guns and Ammo) for $500 million and said goodbye to the publishing business. But ink gets in the blood, and Petersen is back.
The man whom Forbes magazine called one of the nation's richest media moguls (with an estimated worth of $725 million) rejoined the publishing world this January with his purchase of the flailing Sports Afield magazine. He's since moved the 113-year-old publication from New York to North Hollywood and has shifted its focus back to hunting and fishing.
Much has changed in publishing since Petersen started Hot Rod to write about his hobby in 1948. He's put Sports Afield online and is talking about partnerships with Internet startups and even publishing books online in conjunction with the magazine.
He started Petersen Aviation with one plane because of his interest in aviation. The charter service now has four Gulf Streams and three Hawkers to shuttle celebrities and others back and forth.
Question: Why did you decide to buy Sports Afield and come back to the publishing business?
Answer: It was just something that happened. It came up that the magazine was for sale and everyone was speculating about who would buy it. And so we got to talking and said, "Maybe it'd be a good idea if we bought it and brought it back to its former great self." So that's what we did. We made a bid. I didn't really expect to win. I felt that there were so many people buying stuff out there now. But they said they were very happy that we bid (because) they wanted someone to give it a good home.
Q: What changes do you plan for the magazine's content?
A: We want to have a true hunting and fishing magazine. We think that market is up; there is a lot of activity there. A lot of the magazines out there are owned by people who don't have any interest in that area. Most of the majors are owned by big conglomerates. So we feel that with some good guys at the magazine, we can grow it bigger and have it do a good job.
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