Monday, May 20, 2024

A Media Era Comes to An End: Jann Wenner Totally Out of Rolling Stone as Penske Media Buys Up Rest of Company


Jann Wenner is out.

It’s been 51 years since Wenner started Rolling Stone as a broadsheet from San Francisco. It used to fold in half and come out twice a month. Everything was fresh, and if you loved music, you were instantly dependent on it.

But you know, Time Life is gone. Conde Nast teeters, as does Hearst. Everything’s different now.

Tonight, Penske Media bought up the rest of Rolling Stone from Wenner and Singapore-based BandLab Technologies, the people Wenner had sold a minority interest to a couple of years ago. The announcement was made in, also owned by Jay Penske.

Penske now has full control of Rolling Stone, which believe it or not is still a worthwhile brand name. Even the website produces traffic. ranks it at 596 in the US, which is pretty good.

The Deadline story quotes an internal release Penske sent to the RS staff: “In the 12 months since PMC’s initial investment into this incredible team and legendary brand, the need to consolidate the Rolling Stone business has become abundantly clear and something that BandLab and their leadership team also recognized and were in full support of. It’s with their confidence and blessing that we were able to put together a deal that was best for all parties. We continue to have shared goals and will continue to collaborate in the future. This strategic transaction is a key move for what will be many years of future growth and expansion for Rolling Stone, both domestically and abroad.”

The end of Wenner is not bittersweet, it’s just bitter. Rolling Stone was his fiefdom. For years he ran it petulantly, as described in at least two biographies. He loved making and breaking writers, rock stars, photographers. He used the magazine as leverage in running the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And now the party is over.

Penske has achieved what Wenner could not: a media empire. Wenner at one point had US Weekly and Mens Journal. They’re all gone now. Penske owns RS, Variety, WWD, Hollywood Life, Deadline, TV Line.

Goodbye, Jann. It was…interesting.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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