After 15 years, 435 is now Kansas City magazine

Union Station KC

Fifteen years ago, this magazine almost disappeared.

In 2005, 435 South Magazine was launched by Gannett, the mega-publisher out of Virginia whose titles include USA Today.

435 South Magazine was one of five community magazines started that year by Gannett, all targeting affluent areas. They’d pegged Johnson County as prime territory for their new luxe lifestyle magazine concept. Gannett hoped to roll out magazines in thirty other markets. However, the formula didn’t catch on as they had hoped. In its original format, the magazine was loaded with high-end fashion content and articles you might find in any national glossy. The idea was to localize the publication with a handful of fluffy local stories supported by lots of local advertising. Readers weren’t buying it.

Just shy of a year in, company executives decided to pull the plug. Employees were offered a meager severance and told to clean out their desks.

I’d just spent a year pouring my heart and soul into the magazine. As the sales director, I knew we’d identified an audience hungry for local coverage. I asked Gannett to allow me to take the magazine over and keep it alive. At first, they refused. They thought I couldn’t possibly succeed where they’d failed. This is where a lifelong KC resident with a passion for making a difference took over. As we negotiated back and forth, there was quite a bit of intimidation and even a bit of bullying. Eventually — with the help of my husband, Bill Rafael, and a few lawyers — we worked out a deal for me to purchase 435 South. My determination to make it work was fueled by the arrogance of my previous employers.

For the next six years, we made south Johnson County our primary focus. Readers took notice, and we finally gained the respect of the community and advertisers who appreciated the ability to reach our audience.

The Kansas City media market evolved a lot over the years, and those changes left a huge hole. We realized that people across the metro area would be excited to have coverage, so we dropped South from our name in 2012 and began reporting on the entire Kansas City region.

There’s something bittersweet about this issue, the start of our transition from 435 to Kansas City magazine. As a small-business person in Overland Park, I battled the nation’s largest newspaper publisher to acquire 435 South — and won!

On the other hand, it’s way past time that our title reflects the content of the magazine.

Today, this is Kansas City’s oldest magazine and the only one that aspires to combine lifestyle features with serious journalism in the form of in-depth storytelling, top-notch photography and great design.

We are Kansas City’s magazine — it only makes sense to be Kansas City magazine.

With the new name comes a new look. In this month’s issue, you’ll notice that we’ve redesigned our departments and added some fun new elements. The redesign project was a major undertaking guided by two fantastic consultants, Leslie Tunney and EJ Toudt, and we couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out.

When you have a moment to settle into a comfy chair and dig into the content, you’ll see that we’re continuing to cover the most interesting people and places in Kansas City through smart news stories, on-trend lifestyle coverage and trustworthy food and drink picks. If you love your city like I do, you won’t want to miss a single issue. Visit our website and use the promo code “surprise” for a special subscription rate.

If you are a merchant interested in learning how to build a sustaining brand that has the love and trust of the community, let’s talk.

Categories: KC Happenings

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