by Chuck Colbert
A Southern California-based LGBT publication concluded a nearly nine-month period of Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the purchase of Frontiers Media by Michael A. Turner, a Los Angeles investment banker.
Turner, who is gay, has created a new company.
Judge Richard M. Neiter of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California approved on December 5 “sale of substantially all the assets of Frontiers Media to New Frontier Media Holdings, a Delaware limited liability company,” according to The Shinbrot Firm, a bankruptcy specialty law firm, based in Beverly Hills. The judge’s order is pursuant to U.S.C. Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code.
The purchase price was $361,000 with $140,000 going to Wells Fargo and $95,000 going to Frontiers Publishing, both creditors, said publisher and former owner of Frontiers, David Stern.
Reached by phone after court approval, Stern, who will stay on as publisher, voiced relief with the outcome.
“This is a very good thing,” he said. “It means we are going to be out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Frontiers, as a brand and a resource for the LGBT community, will be much stronger.
Stern declined to discuss future plans in any detail but said Frontiers would continue its commitment to cover news and entertainment.
“I’ve been in LGBT media for 26 years and have been a publisher first of IN Los Angeles Magazine and then Frontiers for 15 of those years, so I’m grateful that Michael Turner sees value in my history and what I bring to the table,” said Stern. “I’m very proud of the team at Frontiers and, even in the wake of a Chapter 11, we were able to band together and produce an amazing Lesbian & Gay Wedding Expo that was a huge success.”
Founded in 1981, Los Angeles-based Frontiers Magazine is the oldest and largest circulation LGBT publication serving Southern California. It is distributed free of charge primarily in San Diego, Long Beach, Palm Springs and West Hollywood.
Published biweekly, the magazine distributes 30,000 copies free of charge. In West Hollywood (population 35,000), a city in which an estimated 40 percent of the population identifies as gay, Frontiers distributes 9,700 copies, in effect giving the publication a local-angle focus.
For some time now, however, Frontiers Media has struggled financially, and the company filed for bankruptcy protection on March 6, 2013.
At that time, Frontiers Media reported liabilities of $3.2 million and assets of $342,00, with only $58,000 in cash.
“Mark Hundahl and I, as the publishers of IN Publications Inc., purchased Frontiers in 2007 when the landscape of media looked quite different,” Stern said in a March press statement. “With the passing of Mark in December 2012, I felt this was the right time to restructure the debt of Frontiers Media so we could remain a strong and viable resource for
the LGBT community.”
Frontiers Publishing, LLC, is the company from which IN Publications Inc, owned by Stern and Hundahl, bought the magazine in 2007.
Todd Evans of Rivendell Media, the nation’s largest gay and lesbian ad placement firm, offered an observation on the resolution of the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy status.
“Frontiers has always been a tried and true LGBT publication in Los Angeles, and we hope that continues to be the case with the new owner/investor,” he said in an email. “It seems so many of the financial problems with media have everything to do with their debt before the financial crisis which led to their inability to refinance or restructure properly to take advantage of lower (and affordable) interest rates. Today, while so many costs have gone up, quite a few have come down significantly, with service businesses such as ourselves, in providing a national advertising sales force, or the now-almost free readership surveys Community Marketing provides to publications — both costly items if you were to do on your own. Technology is also helping too, and it seems the advertising world is coming home to the fact that print is not dead nor is digital advertising supreme, and all these things bode well for the future of Frontiers and gay media in general.” (Evans is also publisher of Press Pass Q.)
Frontiers news editor Karen Ocamb, a staple of the publication for years, offered another point of view.
“I trust David Stern, and while I do not know him yet, I’ve heard only good things about new investor Michael Turner,” she said in an email. “Both have a profound understanding of Frontiers as an LGBT institution in Southern California and Frontiers’ commitment to our LGBT and HIV communities. Additionally, the professionalism and artistry of the magazine has deepened — along with extra publications such as the Frontiers Wedding Guide created for the recent successful Wedding Expo. We are no longer the ‘bar rag’ of old. I am proud to say that our magazine is of the highest quality, and I really look forward to what this new beginning will bring.”
For his part, Turner said, “For close to 32 years, Frontiers has been a leading resource and staple for the LGBT community. I’m thrilled that the court has approved the sale of the assets into what will become New Frontiers Media Holdings LLC. I’m looking forward to participating in keeping this brand a strong resource for our community.”
Turner has 25 years of experience providing private equity, financial advisory, transaction and valuation services. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Colorado and an MBA from the University of Southern California with an emphasis on finance and real estate. He resides in Los Angeles and New York.
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