MEDIA PROFILE: Local title gets to the heart of what makes the Bayarea tick

Once the unwanted child of the local public television station, San

Francisco magazine has become the Bay Area's choice reading on

everything from love to politics. Julia Hood reports.

San Francisco magazine could appear to be just another monthly urban

lifestyle magazine, especially for those readers with urban lifestyles

that cost big bucks. But this city magazine takes its content - and

readership - very seriously, with in-depth articles on political and

social issues in the community.

Consider the most recent cover story, "Where to find love in the city,"

which explains, in part, "why our driven lifestyles often leave love

behind." Other stories include everything from "10 really cool people

who aren't seeing anyone right now," and an investigation of the role of

neurons in the love-match game.

Then consider one of editor-in-chief Bruce Kelley's proudest

achievements: A recent issue included an investigative profile of the

man who ran the Presidio National Park. The freelance journalist who

wrote the piece uncovered unsavory details about the man that had not

been known to the public.

"Three weeks after it ran, he was forced to resign," Kelley says. He

adds that stories like that, which change people's perceptions about

things going on locally, are what he is after.

The magazine clearly targets affluent San Franciscans, with a readership

of 334,000 and circulation of 130,000. The coverage area includes 12 Bay

Area counties, "from Sonoma down to Monterey."

According to its own demographic information, one third of the

magazine's readers have a net worth in the million-plus category, 82%

are homeowners, and average household income is $161,000. San

Francisco readers are apparently 400 times more likely to do

post-graduate study than the average US adult.

These readers sound like a fun bunch, too, with 99% engaged in dining

out or entertaining in restaurants, 75% traveling overseas, and 70%

attending musical performances.

None of these characteristics are particularly surprising when you

consider the magazine, originally known as San Francisco Focus, was

started by the local public television station KQED. When the station

hit on hard times four years ago, a group of local businesspeople came

in and bought the title, then changed it to its current name. "We get

the benefit that a lot of readers are still members of KQED," says

Kelley. "They are a very smart, educated, affluent readership that we

get through their membership process."

Kelley took his job a year and a half ago, following a redesign of the

magazine that signaled the publication's new era. Everything from the

logo to the layout and sections were changed. Previously, San Francisco

was laid out in sections with such titles as Ideas, Food, and


Now the magazine includes features in the middle of the book, with its

Food and Arts departments in the back.

The format change, which went into effect in April 2000, signaled

recognition of the Bay Area's evolution. "We felt that our logo

represented an older, more traditional kind of "sourdough bread, crab,

and fog" image of San Francisco," explains publisher Steven Dinkelspiel,

"at a time when the city was evolving into the forefront of new

technology, new media, finance, and culture."

And while San Francisco is still full of lifestyle tidbits one expects

from a cosmopolitan city's local cheerleader, it is also keen to report

on local political and social issues.

The magazine's best-selling issue is its annual food issue, which this

year included a profile of the San Francisco Chronicle's powerful food

critic, Michael Bauer. Another issue in June examined how the gay and

lesbian community has influenced the city.

Pitches are welcome in virtually any format, and Kelley says that snail

mail probably gets addressed as quickly as any other format. The main

thing to understand about the magazine's needs is that San Francisco is

truly local. "We are biased toward products made here over those sold

everywhere, and if it's people, it's the same thing," Kelley


"This is our beat, and we don't want things that have been


One good issue to keep in mind for pitches is the annual Best of the Bay

Area edition in July. "It's the one place where there is a kind of

grab-bag feel to it," Kelley says. "We are often reading press releases,

looking for that hook."


San Francisco

Address: 243 Vallejo Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

Tel/Fax: (415) 398-2800/398-6777



Editor-in-chief: Bruce Kelley

Executive editor: Kevin Berger

Managing editor: Lisa Trottier

Associate editor: Jennifer Aaronson

Senior editors: Maile Carpenter, Pamela Feinsilber, Jan Newberry, Anne


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