Now sadly, it looks like I may be around for the funeral of Kansas City’s only true alternative pub The Pitch. Make no mistake, there’s nothing here to feel good about. Time passes and cool things come and go. Still having been responsible in no small part for both the evolution and the survival of The Pitch – from record store rag to alternative rag, it does weigh on me.
That despite my many critiques in my columns in the Kansas City Star “celebrating” the newsweekly’s sophomoric approach to its annual “best of” issues. That and the odd dust up with paper thin skinned former Pitch editor C.J. Janovy.
All of which takes nothing away from the contributions made by hundreds of contributors to the Pitch over its decades long existence.
Unfortunately the recently converted to monthly “magazine” appears to be hanging by a thread.
Because at a time when the Pitch so desperately needs to be kicking but and taking names in ad sales – during the all-important fourth quarter December issue – the mag took a step backwards with four less pages than its September and November issues.
“The Wish Issue,” it’s called.
What the editors of the Pitch wouldn’t give to wish away the Internet.
Because in those fairytale times 10 years back and beyond, the Pitch was a cash cow with no real competition save maybe Tom Leathers‘ Squire and a smattering of here today, gone tomorrow tabloids.
Now let’s get the unfortunate “math” out of the way…
With a loosely counted 24 pages of advertising – or 46 percent- versus a needed-to-survive 32 pages, the Pitch’s cupboard is looking more than a little bare.
Which increasingly has been the case since before Janovy bailed seven years ago. Remember three years back when the then alt weekly relocated to smaller offices across the street in downtown KC but its credit was denied for a $3,000 move that almost didn’t happen… until its former publisher was able to scramble and come up with a credit card to pay for the move.
These are and were way tough times for big city and national print media and thin times for struggling online entities.
Speaking of which, the online Pitch appears to be little more than a rehash of its few print stories plus a hodge lodge of concert and entertainment reviews – more than likely supplied by freelancers covering the shows for mostly free tickets.
One interesting footnote:
Owing to a dearth of ad revenues, The Pitch has never been able to divorce itself from the cheesy sex ads that for years limited its distribution at businesses that didn’t want to risk criticism from parents and god-fearing adults.
They still haven’t.
However, things are down to a half page of ads from a half dozen “sex chat” suppliers and downtown’s Shady Lady strip club.
For good reason the Pitch also exorcised the Savage Love sex column from its print edition but – curiously – continues to promote it mightily on the Pitch website.
Check out this snippet from last week’s column:
“I’ve been writing this column for a long time. And back before the internet came along and ruined everything for everyone, I used to get a lot of how-to/what’s-that questions about sex acts and sex toys. A column explaining butt plugs to readers who knew nothing about them — and lacked easy access to butt-plug info — was as much fun to read as it was to write. But every sex act and every sex toy has its own Wiki page now, which means I don’t get to write fun columns about butt plugs anymore, READER, and you don’t get to read them.”
Like that’s gonna go over with the upscale audience the Pitch so desperately seeks?
Again, how long can what’s left of the Pitch navigate these difficult seas?