Black Magazines of the ’90s: Where Are They Now?

The 1990s brought a flood of new publications -- including Vibe, Honey, YSB and Emerge -- catering to black audiences. Some of those magazines are long gone, while others have found the financial backing to survive in one form or another. The Root takes a look at what happened to a few of them.

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  • Emerge Magazine

    Emerge Magazine

    Launched in 1989 by Time Inc. and later purchased by BET, Emerge earned widespread respect for capturing black life and culture. The articles, which spanned the globe and won awards like Amnesty International USA’s Media Spotlight Award, never ran away from controversial topics. BET turned over publishing control to Vanguarde Media in 2000, and the following year, the publishing house decided to combine Emerge with a new magazine: Savoy.

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  • Savoy Magazine

    Savoy Magazine

    The first issue of Savoy hit newsstands in January 2001. Editor-in-Chief Roy Johnson came up with the idea for a general-interest lifestyle magazine that catered to the affluent. The magazine, named after the ballroom popular during the Harlem Renaissance, was shuttered two years later, along with its publisher, Vanguarde Media. Chicago-based Hartman Publishing, which also owns the weekly N’Digo, attempted to bring it back to life in 2004. After four issues, owner Hermene Hartman suspended the print version, though it stayed online as she searched for financing. It’s now in the hands of Atlanta-based L.P. Green & Partners Inc., which revived the publication this year.

  • Honey Magazine

    Honey Magazine

    Vanguarde Media purchased Honey — one of the first urban magazines for women that blended entertainment and fashion — from Harris Publishing in 1999 within about nine months of its initial launch. It folded when Vanguarde filed for bankruptcy in 2003. Sahara Media Holdings, which bought Honey in 2005, managed to raise just over $10 million to help revive the magazine in a new format: HoneyMag.com. The New York-based firm unveiled the first incarnation of its site in June 2007.

  • Heart & Soul Magazine

    Heart & Soul Magazine

    The healthy-living magazine is now in the hands of Baltimore-based publisher Edwin Avent, who purchased it out of bankruptcy in 2004. Heart & Soul got its start in 1993 by entrepreneur Reginald Ware in partnership with Rodale Press Inc. — which also publishes Prevention and Women’s Health magazines, among others. BET, which bought Heart & Soul in 1998, gave Vanguarde Media publishing control of it (and four other magazines that BET owned) in 2000. Avent has expanded the brand, including hosting a health expo. He has plans to launch a pregnancy-and-baby magazine next year.

  • YSB Magazine

    YSB Magazine

    BET unveiled the magazine targeting “young sisters and brothers” in 1991. The award-winning publication offered a blend of music and fashion, with some hard-hitting stories about drug abuse and AIDS. But after five years of operating at an annual loss of almost $2 million, it all came to an end. The last issue was October 1996, and nothing has come along since to replace it.

  • Urban Profile Magazine

    Urban Profile Magazine

    Urban Profile offered a mix of social, political and economic content from the perspective of young black men and women. Publishing veteran Len Burnett started the magazine with college roommate Keith Clinkscales in the late 1980s. It was their first business venture together in magazine publishing (Among their later ventures was Vanguarde Media). They sold Urban Profile to Career Communications Group in 1992 and joined Vibe to help get that magazine off the ground. Urban Profile, however, was never resurrected.

  • Vibe Magazine

    Vibe Magazine

    It’s baaack! Vibe — launched in 1993 by famed music producer Quincy Jones in partnership with Time Inc. — faced a tumultuous year in 2009. The magazine fell prey to the recession and briefly ceased operation. Jones even attempted to rescue his beloved magazine. Six weeks after it was shuttered, Len Burnett’s Uptown Media and Leo Hindery’s InterMedia Partners brought Vibe back from the dead — purchasing it for an undisclosed sum. Burnett, along with Keith Clinkscales, was among the magazine’s original creators.

  • Black Issues Book Review

    Black Issues Book Review

    Launched in 1999 by William E. Cox, Adrienne Ingrum and Susan McHenry, the bimonthly publication focused on telling the latest about black authors, publishing executives and book reviews. In its first year, American Library named it one of the 10 Best New Magazines. Chicago-based Target Market News purchased the publication in March 2006, but after a year, the magazine closed down.

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