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Bowlers Journal At 100 KEYSTROKES AND BRUSHSTROKES


other nibbles over the years, but I resisted largely because I loved the work and I loved the magazines. After all, I had a pretty good life. A bachelor in those days, I lived in a nice apartment on the 67th floor of the 100-story Hancock Center, and strolled a mile and a quarter to our new office on South Michigan Avenue every morning. I worked very long days, but at the close of business every evening, the Symphony Center and a dozen restaurants and nearby theaters beckoned. I was still traveling extensively to exotic places all over the globe to cover the World Cup and other international tenpin events. But I had to face the fact that I was


growing ever older. I’d suffered two heart attacks in the 1960s and nearly croaked from peritonitis after my appendix burst while I was covering an ABC Tournament in California. My father had died at 60. How much time did I have left? I asked the lads to work up a deal and get back to me. Meanwhile, some new hurdles emerged.


Our bookkeeper stole a huge amount of company money, covering his tracks by not paying some of our taxes. Later, he told the FBI that I had been a partner in his criminal activity. Needless to say, our bankers viewed all this with a skeptical eye. The emergence of a new publishing


competitor further stirred the pot. A former


ad peddler and sometime-publisher named Allen Crown had launched a new magazine called Bowling Industry. We’d endured dozens of competitors over the years (Bowling, Bowling Proprietor, Bowling Illustrated, Bowling Digest, Bowling This Month, Inside Bowling, etc., etc.), but our relations with other publishers were mostly collegial. Crown, by contrast, was a pit bull salesman with ferocious drive. His concept was to create a pure trade magazine to serve bowling proprietors, thereby directly challenging the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America’s house organ, the Bowling Proprietor. Already weakened by a poor editorial product, BP went into a swoon and died soon after Bowling Industry was launched. Then Crown began to attack our com-


pany’s longtime business model. Bowlers Journal has always been something of a crossover publication; it serves both avid bowlers and bowling business people. In an industry where many pro shops and bowling centers are run by present or former bowlers, the concept had proved sound for some eight decades. The edito- rial content had always been tailored to appeal to both segments. While this might seem like an unorthodox format to those outside our industry, it had always worked splendidly in bowling because of the unique composition of the industry.


EVERYTHING BOWLING, ALL THE TIME


Ownership of the magazine passed outside the Luby family for the first time when Mort Luby Jr. sold the company to Keith Hamilton (left) and Mike Panozzo (right).


challenge Crown. I bought a big custom van and mapped a cross-country tour designed to target every industry supplier and every major organization. I traveled 40,000 miles that year, visiting


Crown, however, convinced a lot of people that Bowlers Journal was a targeted consumer publication with little or no appeal to the typical proprietor. Meanwhile, much of Bowling Industry’s editorial content was devoted to fawning stories about the manufacturers. Bowlers Journal had always tried to avoid such blatant flattery. But our policy of integrity began to hurt


our bottom line as a few of our advertisers, all aglow from highly complimentary stories in Bowling Industry, began to drift away. I brought this up during one of my periodic lunches with former Bowlers Journal editor (and industry icon) Sam Weinstein at the Congress Hotel coffee shop. “Don’t change a thing,” he said. “Just keep doing what you’ve been doing for all those years, and you’ll be okay.” How right he was. As the 80th anniversary of Bowlers


Journal drew nigh, the competition between Crown and our company grew fierce. I decided to hit the road in a two- pronged attack designed to (a) promote the upcoming anniversary issue and (b)


more than 30 states. After two or three weeks on the road, I’d park the van in an airport parking lot and fly back to Chicago, put another issue to bed, and then return to the road. It was worth it: Our 80th Anniversary Issue in November 1993 ran 262 pages. BPAA’s leadership began to realize that the demise of Bowling Proprietor, its official voice for nearly half a century, left a huge void. Although Bowlers Journal and Bowling Industry both provided extensive coverage of Bowl Expo and other BPAA functions, the association had lost its direct source of communication to the membership. Rather than attempt to resurrect an in-house Bowling Proprietor magazine, however, BPAA decided to outsource a brand new association periodical. BPAA approached Luby Publishing Inc.


and Crown, and asked both companies to submit bids for a new official BPAA magazine. LPI won out. Our company’s Bowling Center Management, started in 1995, has been hugely successful. At this writing, Bowling Industry is still in business, but ranks a weak third behind leaders BJI and BCM.


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