(First published in the December 13, 2018 issue of City Pages)
Happy Holidays to You, and Happy 25th Anniversary to Us
We can’t let the year end without noting that 2018 marked our 25thanniversary of publication. Our history is part of Wausau’s history, too. Over these next four pages we share some notable moments, fascinating facts, and perhaps some insight into how the wheels keep turning every week, since 1993. We’re also taking this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and joyous New Year!
B.C. Kowalski, Reporter/Photographer
Writes and organizes local news stories, takes photos, and assists in deadline editing.
During the long holiday break I’ll be… Binging on Netflix, working out, and probably procrastinating on, instead of finishing, my third sci-fi book.
Kayla Zastrow, General Manager and Big Guide Boss
Compiles/writes Big Guide listings, Highlights, and A&E features; handles day-to-day business and office matters.
During the long holiday break I’ll be… Hanging out with my cats and boyfriend (in that order), binging on Netflix, and doing a lot of knitting and other crafts.
Lisa Lanier, Advertising Account Executive
Works with businesses to plan their marketing messages.
During the long holiday break I’ll be… Continuing to connect with relatives I never knew I had before tapping Ancestory.com. My motto: “It’s a long weekend, I have snacks, I will find you.”
Jake Mizgalski, Advertising Account Executive
Works with businesses to plan their marketing messages.
During the long holiday break I’ll be… Sitting in front of the fireplace without pants on and holding a glass of wine.
Tiffany Bonham, Advertising Manager
Supports and oversees the advertising department.
During the long holiday break I’ll be… Channeling my inner Paula Deen and hoping my “burn everything” kitchen skills take a turn for the better.
Linda Weltzin, Advertising Assistant
Handles the Classifieds page, customer service and accounts receivables.
During the long holiday break I’ll be… Binge-listening to my vinyl collection.
Alex Eichten, Graphic Designer/Production Coordinator
Designs the pages and cover, directs production traffic
During the long holiday break I’ll be… On a beach in Thailand, suckas.
Colette Fritz, Graphic Designer/Customer Assistance
Designs and handles ads, helps advertisers in that process.
During the long holiday break I’ll be… Hanging out with family, making art, and playing Xbox games with my kids (if they give me a turn).
Tim Nyenhuis, Circulation Manager
Takes care of delivery system and drivers, as well as doing his own route every week.
During the long holiday break I’ll be… Snowmobiling, eating too much food, and spending time with family and friends.
Tammy Stezenski, Publisher/Editor
Founder and president of City Pages Inc., guides, organizes and plans editorial content.
During the long holiday break I’ll be… At a Northwoods cabin, with friends and family, no internet access or computers, and sketchy cell service.
Note from the publisher
City Pages’ 25thanniversary is a milestone for us, and meaningful for you too. Every town needs a dependable, cherished forum that reflects the heart and soul of the community. And City Pages continues to be that integral part of Central Wisconsin. Every issue is so Wausau. People know it. They get it.
Milestones like a big anniversary are occasions for reflection, introspection, and looking forward, so allow me to share some of my thoughts.
Our readership is growing. The general assertion that print is dead doesn’t apply everywhere, and not here. City Pages circulates 18,000 papers every week — thousands more compared to just a few years ago.
Most long-time readers probably have guessed that, while many other newspapers have suffered catastrophic readership loss, City Pages’ is thriving. In a time of a changing, often confusing media landscape, this is important to know. It certainly has been important for me to consider in our continual efforts to always make the paper better, and to make changes when necessary (as is true for any business).
For example, people have long wondered if City Pages would go all digital, or nearly so, as other publications around the U.S. have done. But why would I ignore our growing print circulation? Why would we redirect precious staff time and resources?
City Pages will continue to focus on being a lively, robust print media in Wausau/Central Wisconsin. An increasingly chaotic and unpredictable internet landscape can’t replicate what readers say they appreciate about City Pages:
· It’s a weekly event in itself. Reliable. Something to hold on to.
· All the arts and events happenings around Central Wisconsin—you can’t find a more complete and convenient source of information.
· Cover stories and news that convey a magazine-like energy to local issues.
We do post urgent news online, plus complementary features, past articles and some event listings. But the Thursday paper—delivered to 300+ pickup sites around Wausau, Merrill, Stevens Point—remains a priority. Nothing else creates that feeling, that sense of community in the pages you can hold. The articles, photos, event listings and local ads all combine to create a forum that’s full of Wausau character.
Since our first issue in April 1, 1993, City Pages has made many changes: We added seasonal magazines like Summer Fun Book; changed paper size format; added periodic special sections such as Kids Corner for families and the twice-yearly Fine Arts Preview.
The key is keeping things fresh while also keeping a reliable, familiar foundation. What hasn’t changed is our basic commitment to local news, arts and entertainment. City Pages remains rooted and true in its mission to be a valued touchstone, a resource that inspires you to find the best this community offers.
On this occasion of our 25thanniversary, I want to thank you for valuing City Pages, and helping us to create a beloved newspaper. Wausau gets City Pages. And I hope you will continue to in the years to come.
A sentimental shout out— Many staffers throughout the years have joked of City Pages that, “You can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave” (a la “Hotel California”). There have been many talented people who’ve worked for City Pages over the years, and quite a few continued to lend a hand long after officially leaving employment—freelance writing, photography, special projects and events, and even delivery papers in a pinch.
So special thanks to: Gina Cornell, Lisa Shilts (the Brett Favre of City Pages because she retired three times, but continues to work special projects); April Rosemurgy; Pat Peckham; Katie Gerhards; Christine Martens; Jane Neal; Cathy Hackel and Darcey Westcott.
And here’s a shout out to our wonderful, long-time delivery drivers, Barb, Tim, John, Frank, and Ashley. Some history and notable moments
Some history and notable moments
How City Pages started, and funny things along the way
When it began: City Pages started as drunk smack talk at the Scott Street Steak & Pub, by founders Tammy Stezenski and Mary Jo Kewley. The first bank essentially refused us a loan, even though the amount was small and completely covered by collateral. The 60-something man banker didn’t look at our professionally vetted business plan, but instead focused on such topics as “What happens when you start having babies?” and “Don’t you want to get married some day?” The second bank was more, um, reasonable.
First digs: City Pages first occupied two side rooms of an interior design business on Forest Street. It was small but impeccably decorated.
First issue, April 1, 1993: The cover story featured then-Mayor John Hess, and asked Wausau Century in this Century? Nope. That years-long effort to build a hotel and convention center near the river in downtown Wausau became one of the most contentious, sometimes ugly, public debates in the city’s history.
Though the project failed, the seeds were planted, and years later the area was dramatically redeveloped with a hotel and event space (Jefferson Street Inn) and two large new office buildings.
Concerts in the Park (on the Square): City Pages’ launch in 1993 included the creation of a summer music series at Stewart Park (there was no 400 Block square at that time). For the very first show in 1993, musician John Thulin insisted on a full-size grand piano. It took weeks to find —nobody wants their grand outside— and a team of friends to move. Then City Pages had to hire a tuner, who enjoyed the concert so much, he never charged us.
Circa 1994: Received a call that a delivery driver was scaring customers at a grocery store every time she whipped out her big Bowie knife to cut open the newspaper bundles. We asked her to use a smaller knife. She delivers City Pages to this day.
September 1994: Disgruntled subject of a cover story on rental housing “eye sores” tried to steal that week’s copies. We got reports immediately. We hunted his minion down, giving chase with a tire-squealing U-turn on Grand Avenue. The perp was questioned by police at his office. The district attorney got involved. There was restitution. But the big burn happened when the incident became, by chance, the main state news story in the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel: an editor there happened to call publisher Tammy Stezenski that day for something unrelated.
September 1999’s article The Man Who Fell to Earth, about Dan Favor: City Pages had an outpouring of notes thanking us for our story that went beyond Dan’s highly visible suicide from the Landmark Building in downtown Wausau, on 9/9/99. Dan was an artist, and one of Wausau’s most memorable personalities. The story mixed personal anecdotes and “hard” news to, in part, chastise other media for treating Dan’s suicide as if it were a kind of terrorist event. As one person wrote to City Pages, “Thank you for having the courtesy, the decency, to write and publish [that].”
Circa 2000: A delivery driver’s car explodes. Literally. It was on fire. Publisher Tammy Stezenski rushed to the scene to save the papers and finish the route. No one was injured.
Spring 2000: Cover story “Loving theatre means going on stage in your underwear” featured a local actor in his underwear, on the cover, and it was glorious.
Spring 2003: Publisher/editor Tammy Stezenski was nine months pregnant when City Pages hosted its 10-year anniversary party at the Grand Theater, and Tammy was named a YWCA Woman of Vision, with the award ceremony held two days after she birthed her first son. That was a pretty busy spring.
Circa 2005: City Pages printed an ad for “Antique Cocks and Jugs.” That was an unfortunate typo.
2006: The whole town’s abuzz as Wausau’s first “skyscraper” (Dudley Tower) is being built. We put a sock monkey on it, a la King Kong, on the cover or the Program magazine.
December 2006 unfortunate typography: The annual year-end feature on movies you missed was entitled “Indie Flicks” … and never again. Because, a bit of advice: Never ever print the word “flick” in all caps. If the “I” is too close to the “L” it creates another kind of f-word. And we did it on the cover. In huge red type visible from 15 feet away.
2013: City Pages moves to its current office space, on the mezzanine second floor of Washington Square. Its first office in that building was the basement (yes, it was as bad as it sounds), then the first level, and finally the second story, with windows for the first time in 19 years.
Most talked about CP illustration ever: Then-Mayor Jim Tipple’s vacation hullaballoo (May 2014).
2016: Finally launched a real, working website. Guys, it’s like starting an entire new publication. Don’t judge.
Greatest hits, April Fool’s stories: The first City Pages came out on April 1, 1993, so beginning in 1995, we decided to mark the occasion each year with an April Fool’s Day joke cover story. The ones that really, really got people:
Rib Mountain erupts (1995)
Hwy. 29 overpass through downtown (1996)
Spring squirrel crisis (2008)
Viagra naming rights on Rothschild Pavilion (2009)
Rare wooly rat species discovered (2012)
Welcome gnome to Wausau (2015)
User guide and tips
Plus curious facts you surely don’t know
1. Pick it up every Thursday *
At 300+ drop sites, most places in Wausau by noon. Distribution sites are selected for having high or “habitual” traffic, such as all grocery stories, most gas/convenience stores, restaurants, large employers, office buildings, schools/campuses, and fitness centers. Those distribution sites are possible only with the cooperation and good graces of the companies. So thank you, everyone!
* Sometimes Wednesday for holidays, and we do not publish the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
2. Find out what’s happening, so you don’t miss a thing!
Want to know what to do around town? The heart of City Pages always has been our unmatched calendar of local events. Check out the Highlights section for big or notable things happening—sort of like our critic’s picks. Then scan through the Big Guide for arts, entertainment and events you’re interested in. We list them by categories, but some events are not easily categorized, so always look at every section. Our coverage area includes the Wausau, Merrill and Stevens Point areas, with select listings for Marshfield, Minocqua/Rhinelander, and Wittenberg.
3. Read the news. It’s more like a weekly magazine.
City Pages has never tried to be a daily newspaper, so we typically do not cover things like run-of-the-mill crime, traffic accidents, births and obituaries, school sports, etc. We dive into bigger picture topical issues, and strive for stories that convey the spirit and character of the Wausau area—more like a “what’s happening” approach versus “what happened.” Our news section begins with Metro Briefs, followed by a run-down of state news, and then the cover story… which might be about arts & entertainment because we consider this aspect of the community as integral a part of life as any other “newsy” topic.
4. Read all the ads, too!
They keep the paper free to you, plus these local businesses are communicating themselves about what’s happening around town. We know many of you read City Pages back-to-front, first checking out the BizBoard page on the back cover.
5. Keep your copy around for reference
Especially the special sections like the Fine Arts Previews, the Kids Corner long-range calendar of events for families, and our magazine supplements: Summer Fun Book (late May/early June); Program (early Sept., contains Best of Wausau); and Holiday & Winter Book (week before Thanksgiving). We produce City Pages for you to USE, not just read. The Publisher’s Note (usually p. 2) will give you a heads up on any special sections coming up.
6. Recycle responsibly
Then pick up the next City Pages on Thursday.
How many in-house work hours it takes to produce and deliver City Pages each week: 350
Add in freelancer work (movie reviews, state news, etc.) and it’s well over 400
Typical number of local events listed in Big Guide every week: 300
Number of City Pages picked up each week: 18,000
If you stacked all the City Pages delivered in one week into one column, how tall would that be?
About 63 feet high
Issues that include a magazine supplement would be five times that—around 315 feet high, which is taller than the state capitol, and the Dudley Tower (250 feet ground to spire).
Total pages printed for just one of our magazines: 2 million
2.5 million– Program (132 pages)
1.8 million– Holiday & Winter (96 pages)
2.0 million– Summer Fun (104 pages)