Alternative Chicago weekly gets a glossy new face and polished presentation

THE CHICAGO READER, an alternative weekly, unveiled a complete redesign this week, reintroducing itself to readers and advertisers.  The magazine aims to serve as a comprehensive guide to life and entertainment in Chicago.

Physical changes like a glossy cover and stapled binding are meant to make the Reader feel “like it has more shelf-life,” according to Alison Draper, chief sales officer for parent company Creative Loafing.  And although it’s half the size it once was, the magazine still boasts more than eighty pages.  Now, roughly 60% of that is commerce, and 40% is editorial, with the ads placed for maximum impact.  Draper says they’re being “very strategic and selling ad positions.”

Editorial changes were made with the purpose of broadening the publication’s appeal.  While 70% of the content remains the same, it has added more “curated content,” and other features like artist-on-artist interviews and chats.  The new editor, Mara Shalhoup,, also hired back popular political reporter Mike Dumke.

Two years ago Aalaya Capital Management acquired Creative Loafing in a 2009 bankruptcy auction.  Now, hope is that the changes will make the Reader a stronger contender against competitors TIME OUT CHICAGO, NEWCITY and CHICAGO TRIBUNE’S REDEYE.  Find out more at


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