WTVP acquires local magazine with support from angel investors

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WTVP headquarters in Peoria, Ill.

WTVP in Peoria, Ill., has acquired the intellectual property and community events of a local monthly magazine owned by Central Illinois Business Publishers.

Peoria Magazine will cease publishing after its December 2021 issue and return in 2022 under WTVP’s direction. WTVP is considering bundling the print publication with its monthly program guide and offering Peoria Magazine as a membership perk, according to WTVP CEO Lesley Matuszak.

Matuszak

Jan Wright, president and co-founder of Central Illinois Business Publishers, is closing her business to retire and enjoy life with her new husband, Matuszak said. She began exploring the possibility of acquiring Peoria Magazine this month after learning that Wright, a friend and business owner she holds in high regard, planned to close the publishing company.

WTVP’s membership has grown from fewer than 4,000 donors to more than 6,000 during Matuszak’s two-year tenure at the station, and she’s seeking additional opportunities to boost donor revenue.

“It makes sense for us to take advantage of this opportunity,” Matuszak said. “We believe in enriching the community, and we feel this is a way to engage further.”

The deal was financed by angel investors, Matuszak said. “I’ve got an angel or two in my back pocket. … That’s just how I operate,” she said. She did not tap the station’s general membership fund for the transaction, she said.

“Any member that donates or makes an endowment gift to WTVP, their money stays in television,” Matuszak said, adding “we are not spending a lot of money” on the deal. “We are doing nothing but acquiring the name of the business and these special events.”

WTVP will not take on the magazine’s employees, its offices or any additional business debt. Wright co-founded Central Illinois Business Publishers in 1989 with her late husband, David, who died in 1997. She has agreed to work with WTVP as an unpaid consultant.

Four of the magazine’s signature events will continue under WTVP’s direction including “40 Leaders Under Forty,” “Local Legends,” “Women of Influence” and the “Community Impact Guide.” An additional event associated with Bradley University is also in the works, Matuszak said.

WTVP should earn at least $100,000 annually on the magazine’s events, Matuszak said. She expects those revenues to grow 25% each year by the end of 2024. WTVP can leverage the magazine’s relationships with corporations, like Illinois-based Caterpillar Inc., who may be interested in sponsoring events or underwriting programs, she said.

Matuszak, CEO of WTVP since 2019, said news that Chicago Public Media is pursuing a merger with the Chicago Sun-Times inspired her to pursue the deal. “When I heard about [WBEZ] taking over the Chicago Sun-Times, my mind went crazy with ideas,” she said.

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