Peoria may not have the reputation as a publishing center, but national magazines have been produced here for decades. Among the magazines printed here is the Shooting Times, a monthly with a focus on firearms and hunting. The Times is just one of a flock of magazines devoted to guns and hunting put together in Peoria. Titles include Shotgun News, Guns & Ammo and Petersen's RifleShooter. The magazines are part of New York-based InterMedia Outdoors, which has made Peoria its base for its gun and hunting publications.
Peoria may not have the reputation as a publishing center but national magazines have been produced here for decades.
Today, InterMedia Outdoors carries on a tradition at 2 News Plaza, just down the hill from the offices of the Peoria Journal Star.
Among the magazines printed here is the Shooting Times, a monthly with a focus on firearms and hunting, first produced by PJS Publications in 1960 as part of the magazine subsidiary of the Journal Star.
Today, the Times is just one of a flock of magazines devoted to guns and hunting put together in Peoria. Titles include Shotgun News, Guns & Ammo and Petersen's RifleShooter.
Bob Hunnicutt, general manager of the Shotgun News, calls it a comeback story. Primedia, a previous owner, sold off most of the titles except for the gun magazines, he said.
"By 2001, instead of 140 people working here, we had 13 with Shooting Times and Shotgun News," said Hunnicutt.
Numerous ownership changes over the years had seen magazine titles - and employees - come and go in the building. Specialty magazines like Crafts, Sew News and Just Cross Stitch with a long history in Peoria went elsewhere to be published.
But the New York City-based InterMedia Outdoors decided to make Peoria its base of operations for its gun/hunting magazine division, Hunnicutt said. That meant titles previously published in Los Angeles were moved here. "It took a pretty intense sales job to get that done," he said.
Peoria had to overcome a small-town stereotype as well as the fact that it lacked direct air service to many cities and a selection of four-star hotels, factors considered important at the New York headquarters, said Mike Carney, vice president and hunting-and-shooting group publisher who arrived in Peoria in 2005.
"I've lived all over the country and I'd rate Peoria over 17 other cities I know. Peoria is the place I want to be," he said.
Hunnicutt has also adopted Peoria as a favorite place, even though when he first arrived a dozen years ago from Washington, D.C., "I thought it was Siberia," he said.
But there were other reasons beyond Peoria being a good - and less expensive - place to live that made sense for a stable of hunting magazines to locate here. "Illinois is one of the top three deer-hunting states in the nation, plus advertisers are close," said Hunnicutt.
"There are also good hard-working people in this town," he said. As a result of InterMedia's relocation of magazines, there are now 33 employees working here. "We just added 16 full-time jobs," said Hunnicutt.
One of those who just came on board is Mike Anschuetz, the staff photographer, who occupies a studio recently set up among InterMedia's remodeled offices. Formerly with Dynamic Graphics, Anschuetz now sets up rifles and handguns in various formations for magazine covers.
The 10 regular magazines and 27 annuals - magazine editions printed once a year - make Peoria "the most robust publishing center in the InterMedia empire," Hunnicutt said.
While some national magazines have seen circulation and advertising decline, the InterMedia group is holding up well with its niche publications, said Carney. "Any of your general-interest magazines are hurting but we have very defined areas. Despite the recession, we're not suffering as broadly on the newstand. In fact, we've just had two of our best years ever," he said.
Shotgun News, a 200-page magazine printed three times a month, is the oldest InterMedia title, having been published for more than 60 years. It's recognized as being the world's largest gun-sales publication, with a circulation close to 100,000. The magazine brings in $6.5 million annually in ad revenue, said Hunnicutt.
But InterMedia isn't only loading up print pieces. The company purchased the Sportsman Channel in 2007 and now rolls out a wide array of TV programs for the sportsman, said Carney, adding that each magazine has its own complementary Web site with custom video features.
"Our goal is to serve the active participants in the hunting field. We want the people that follow their passion. It's proved to be a pretty good business model," he said.
Steve Tarter can be reached at (309) 686-3260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.