Jimmy Tayoun, the former South Philadelphia state rep and city councilman, restaurant owner and family man who emerged from his early 1990s corruption sentence to build a new career as publisher, says talks with a potential buyer convinced him to expand coverage by the Philadelphia Public Record, his political weekly newspaper and Web site group. While he figures out its future, including a possible sale, if he finds a good buyer and price.
He won't keep the 16-year-old publication in the family? "I have three sons, doctors," and his daughters are also busy elsewhere, he told me from his office at 1323 South Broad St. "I have hopes for the next generation. But can I wait that long?" asks Tayoun, who is 85.
Tayoun says Philadelphia sheriff's sale property listings, city and public-authority ads, and labor-union ads and participation in Public Record events, help keep his paper afloat. "I'm the only pro-union paper in Pennsylvania," he boasts. He's closer to Ed Coryell's Carpenters -- two of his grandsons are members -- than to Johnny Doc's Electricians -- "Doc and I don't get along."
The paper is fattest before elections. Tayoun says it's also been used profitably by advocates to rally advocates on hot-button issues, such as soda distributors and Teamsters who successfully opposed to Mayor Nutter's proposed sugary soft-drinks tax.
"My secret is I get this paper in everybody's hands" in Harrisburg state government and Philadelphia city government, from the General Assembly to the jury rooms, Tayoun said. "They look through the Inquirer and the Daily News and the Harrisburg Patriot. But they read the Public Record." His fulltime staff of 11, augmented by stringers, makes sure the paper is dropped on desks and stuffed into mailboxes.
The Public Record says it sells 6,000+ subscription copies a week, it emails aggressively to its target audience, and Tayoun says the Web site gets 50,000-70,000 hits a week. "I can sell as many ads as I need to," he says. "If I put out just 16 pages, I lose money that week. 20 pages, we break even. 24 pages, we make money. Above that it's all profit."