Rolling Stone is beefing up its music, politics and pop culture as its new owner gets ready to pump in an estimated $8 million to $10 million in a redesign to be unveiled in July.
“If you want to do it right, it costs money,” said Jay Penske, whose Penske Media took over majority control of the title from Jann Wenner, paying an estimated $51 million last December.
While founder Wenner placated the aging baby boom generation, many have criticized him for missing the hip-hop revolution in recent years while that magazine was trying to cover everything from gaming to pro wrestling.
“We’re going to be staying in three lanes: music in all the genres that matter, politics and pop culture,” Penske said.
Among the new hires is Andy Kroll, most recently at Mother Jones, where he worked on investigations into Cambridge Analytica. He is joining as the DC bureau chief, the first time in a dozen years the magazine has had a full-time staffer in the nation’s capital. The publication already counts as political news editor John Hendrickson, who joined earlier this year.
Alan Sepinwall — who wrote the best-selling book “The Revolution Was Televised” and who did the popular Hitfix podcast “Firewall and Iceberg” with Daniel Fienberg — is joining as the magazine’s chief TV critic.
Both new hires — Sepinwall and Kroll — report to Managing Editor Jason Fine, who took over the top editorial job in 2015 when Will Dana was forced out in the wake of the University of Virginia fake fraternity rape story, which cost the magazine $1.56 million.
Since the acquisition of 51 percent of Wenner Media, a Penske-led hiring spree has added Brendan Klinkenberg from Complex Media as a senior editor covering hip-hop, Jamil Smith, poached from the Los Angeles Times, as a senior writer, and Elias Leight as a music reporter.
As part of its relaunch, the magazine plans to develop branded events, and in March tapped Amber Mundinger to be senior VP , live media and strategic partnerships.