Roshan Roulette: Five Staffers Flee; Can Ex-Wonkette Cox Save Radar?

“Three or four people leaving is not a big deal,” insisted Maer Roshan, founder and editor in chief of Radar.

Actually, it’s five: Senior editor Tyler Gray, en route to Blender, just had his last day at the magazine, as did managing editor Leigh Ann Boutwell, who is joining her boyfriend on the West Coast. On the business side, the magazine’s president, Fred Poust, fled Radar’s East 45th Street offices on May 30, along with finance director Dwight Holovach and Web site general manager Michael Small, who came in with great fanfare from Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone.

As the news of these departures trickled out via Gawker and Portfolio.com over the past week, that nearly annual, sickly feeling began to creep back: Is the twice-resurrected magazine—perennially pitched as the irreverent, media-savvy heir to Spy—in trouble?

“What I’d want to say is that it’s 5 people out of 52,” said Mr. Roshan. “The timing is unfortunate, but that’s the nature of the business. We have a lot of good numbers and figures and stats. And the magazine is doing really excellently. … Everything is more than O.K. We’re doing well.”

Staffers there say they’ve been given assurances from Mr. Roshan that the publication, which is backed by a Chicago-based investment group, has the money to stay put for about another year. One expressed concern that Mr. Poust left (what can that say about business, after all?), but said that the editorial departures, which included deputy editor Chris Tennant a few months ago, are nothing more than run-of-the-mill turnover.

The magazine’s publisher, Anne Perton, pointed to circulation figures, saying that by 2009 that number will be up to 225,000, up from 150,000 last year. There was that undeniable morale boost with the magazine’s surprising ASME nomination for general excellence in May (though it lost to Mother Jones). And in what is a bad general climate for advertising, Ms. Perton said Radar’s total ad pages would increase about 10 percent by year’s end, to about 145 pages total. (Though the spike can be attributed to the fact that last year there were six issues; this year there will be eight).

“That number obviously isn’t much to talk about,” said Steve Cohn, editor in chief of Media Industry Newsletter. “It’s a gentleman’s ‘C,’ since it’s such a lousy year for advertising overall.”

In an e-mail, Ms. Perton pointed out that the July-August issue, which includes a Pamela Anderson cover and a new typeface, includes “exciting new advertisers” like Skyy Vodka and VH1. But there’s also a two-page ad taken by Fabucci.com (hey what now?), a Southern California women’s swimwear company.

Along with the redesign, there are other signs that Radar hasn’t given up quite yet. Ana Marie Cox, who gave up her staffing position at Time and went on contract there in April, has joined the roster of contributing editors. “I’ll be doing a regular Radar-ish take on Washington,” she told Off the Record. “Believe it or not, I’m just happy to have a place that’s as good as Radar for the kind of writing I want to do. I’ve never been good at judging a publication’s longevity.”

Mr. Roshan said there were “impressive” additional new hires, but he wouldn’t be able to announce them until later this week. And two new reporters will be hired for Radar Online!

“We are open forever,” he declared grandly.

jkoblin@observer.com

Roshan Roulette: Five Staffers Flee; Can Ex-Wonkette Cox Save Radar?