They’ve got the kids; now it’s time to go for the moms. That’s the thinking behind Paton Publishing’s acquisition of What’s Up Kids Family Magazine. Paton, a division of the Metroland Media Group and the country’s largest publisher of youth-oriented magazines, purchased the twelve-year-old parenting title from independent owner and founder Dave Walker, who will stay on as publisher. Though Walker and publisher Beverly Paton were mum on the issue, we estimate a sale price of $750,000 to one million dollars, based on the four-fifths of annual revenue principle.
Paton says ownership of What’s Up Kids allows the company to offer a “one-stop shopping” destination for advertisers who want to reach both the youth and parenting markets. PMB readership data also shows that many of What’s Up Kids readers have children aged 8-12, Paton says, which added further incentive for the offer, since readers of Paton’s youth mags (including Pop!, The Grind, Whoa and Hockey Now) are mostly in that age bracket. Though she says it’s too early to talk specifics regarding growth-strategies, Paton did say she’d like to increase the magazine’s circulation, which currently sits around 106,000.
Walker, who says he has received several purchase offers in the past, says the benefits of joining Paton’s group were clear. “Sometimes when you’re an independent in the big ocean of businesses, it’s difficult to get to where you want to go. With a bigger company you have more resources and synergies you can team,” he says. That he gets to remain on as publisher was also a factor.
Walker launched What’s Up Kids in 1996 as a regional title for parents in the Golden Horseshoe. (At the time, he was moonlighting as a magician known as Mr. Magic.) The magazine slowly but surely expanded its reach over the next few years and is now a full-blown national title, with a readership of 387,000. This growth was mirrored by format changes, as the title evolved from newsprint tabloid to perfect-bound glossy.
Walker says he's excited about the opportunities for What's Up Kids growth inside of Paton, but admits the sale was “a little bittersweet. It’s your own baby. You pour your heart and soul into something for 13 or 14 years…What you have to do is focus on the positive. And you have to let the past go.”