Doctor grows magazine with unusual strategy: Circulation hits 100,000 nationally and still climbing

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A Carmel-based doctor turned publisher is celebrating his magazine’s first anniversary by rolling out plans to take his publishing and health care businesses nationwide.

Radius magazine is poised for rapid growth due to its “no fluff” content, according to its founder, Dev Brar, who founded Carmel-based Nightingale Home Healthcare in 1996.

Both businesses are operating out of a new headquarters at 1036 S. Rangeline Road, and Brar is hoping the two will grow hand-in-hand.

Brar is using Radius to market Nightingale nationally. He said Radius’ primary objective is to get useful health care information into the hands of current and prospective Nightingale patients.

It’s an unusual approach, which has caught the eye of publishing and health care experts.

“This approach of using a targeted list of readers is not unheard of, but their method of using an existing business to catapult it is somewhat unusual,” said Ray Begovich, Franklin College journalism professor.

Launched in March 2006, Radius has already grown circulation to 100,000 nationwide. The health- and lifestyles-oriented publication is sent primarily to doctor’s and dentist’s offices and other health care providers. Most copies are sent free, but Brar said annual subscriptions to the quarterly magazine are $14.95.

“This publication is geared toward everyday people,” Brar said. “The articles are written in a straightforward way by doctors, nurses and other health care providers. For readers, it’s like getting a house call. We think it has wide-ranging appeal.”

A recent issue covered topics such as seven tips against E. coli threats, the dangers of ignoring your teeth, defining asthma and allergies, the latest technologies that could replace bifocals, and a feature on how actress Ann Jillian survived breast cancer.

“We cover things like pet care, cooking, vacationing and other lifestyle issues,” said Patricia Kirby, Radius editor. “We think there’s something in there for just about everyone.” Kirby, part of a Radius staff of three, is former co-editor of Hoosier Outdoor magazine and editor of Topics newspapers in Putnam County.

Begovich said key to the publication’s success will be its ability to deliver helpful, objective information, not propaganda about Nightingale or other industry allies.

Nightingale places a full-page ad in each issue, Brar said, but the company has little influence over news content.

“They have to build credibility with readers, and that can be a challenge,” Begovich said.

Though Brar’s parents were in publishing, this is his first experience in the business. The magazine is printed at RR Donnelly & Sons in Chicago.

It costs Brar about $100,000 to publish each issue-which averages about 84 pages. He hopes to make Radius profitable by year’s end. Already, Brar said, he’s close to covering costs.

“Our goal is to sell 15 full pages of advertising per issue,” he said.

Achieving profitability won’t be easy, said Samir Husni, University of Mississippi Journalism Department chairman who operates the Web site Only 18 percent of startup magazines survive four years, Husni said.

More than 1,200 paid-subscription magazines were launched in the United States in 2004, with another 1,184 hitting newsstands in 2005, according to several print-publication tracking agencies. Another 500 or so new free magazines have been offered each year in the United States since 2003, Husni said.

“Competition is fierce, but already they’re beating the odds,” said Husni, who said he’s heard of, but not seen, Radius.

Brar has beaten the odds before. He launched Nightingale when President Clinton and federal lawmakers were clamping down on licensed health care providers.

Brar started Nightingale in a 10-footby-14-foot windowless office, with three employees and a handful of patients. Nightingale, which provides home nursing visits, now has almost 2,000 patients and 700 employees in Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, California and Nevada.

Brar credits putting patients first and embracing technology for Nightingale’s expansion. He would not divulge Nightingale’s revenue.

“We take the same approach with our home heath business as we do with our magazine,” Brar said. “We feel proper education is key to both of these initiatives.”

Brar has designs to expand Nightingale nationwide and has immediate plans to grow into Ohio, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri. Meanwhile, Brar plans to increase Radius’ circulation to 250,000 by year’s end.

“If Nightingale continues growing, it is easier to support Radius,” Brar said. “If Radius grows rapidly, it will help [market] Nightingale.”

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