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THE BOTTOM LINE
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Full speed ahead

Look for more circulation and even better content on the horizon for OC METRO, as Freedom Communications acquires Churm Media after a 22-year run serving Orange County.

By Steve ChurmPublished: January 01, 2013

This is it, my final Bottom Line for OC METRO. I’m not retiring – heavens no. I’m still a few years away from the senior discount at the movies, so why clock out for the last time now? Besides, with the advances in modern medicine, I hope to be upright for a long time to come.
   
I’m just changing business addresses along with most of the Churm Media staff. If you haven’t heard or read, we’ve been acquired by Freedom Communications, the parent company that owns the largest daily newspaper in the community, The Orange County Register. The Churm Media magazines – OC METRO, OC Family, Southland Golf and OC Menus – are now part of the Freedom family. So are Ripe Orange, our award-winning marketing and event agency, and our custom-content practice launched earlier this year. Everything we’ve built during the past 22-plus years under the Churm flag has been added to the Freedom and Register roster of products and service offerings.
   
It’s a strategic move, a win for both companies. What Churm Media loses in terms of its independence it captures in deep resources, ideas and alignment with a much bigger entity that has a full head of steam under new ownership. Since taking control in June, Freedom owners and partners, Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz, have engineered a rebirth of the company’s flagship, The Register.
   
There’s a buzz in the county about the 107-year-old paper, not just in media circles, but also in corner offices and break rooms from San Clemente to Irvine to Brea. Beset by the same sharp revenue declines that have hit other print properties, The Register in recent years has struggled to find any sort of footing in this age of smartphones and tablets. The consensus among industry leaders has been that newspapers, in particular, were in trouble, deep trouble, as a viable vehicle to connect with readers.
   
Kushner and Spitz see the landscape very differently. They argue that if a newspaper truly fulfills its mission to better the community it serves with content that is original, compelling and valuable, readers will not only subscribe – in print and online –they will support the institution by expanding their use and reliance on its resources and products. The duo’s investment in Freedom and the business model they have fashioned for the “new” Register has not only spiked instant curiosity locally; it has attracted national attention as an industry that has been ravaged by cutbacks looks on with hope.
   
Churm Media and our magazine brands are now part of the Freedom plan. It means the potential for much greater circulation and better, more focused content about the topics we have covered and cared about since we launched Churm Media in 1990. Equally important, there will be much wider visibility and market exposure for our advertisers and partners as we open the doors to marketing options across Freedom’s 
vast platforms.
   
As group publisher, one of my responsibilities is to make sure that as we integrate our brands with Freedom, we don’t lose the qualities that have led us to this intersection. We cannot and will not lose touch with the readers and advertisers who have so loyally believed in the “Churm Way” of accessibility and service. We have taken great pride in being able to adapt and move quickly to meet market needs as our industry has dramatically changed in my run as owner.
   
I sincerely hope – and promise – not to lose sight that it is our readers and customers who come first, regardless of our business 
address.
   
Thank you for the support. The best is yet to come. Stay tuned.