Local sports magazine in financial peril

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VYPE High School Sports Magazine is facing fourth down.

But the publication’s co-founder and publisher, Phil Temple, isn’t quite ready to throw in the towel. Temple admits, however, that in the next two to three weeks “some hard decisions will have to be made.”

Temple, who founded VYPE with his wife, Jennifer, as High School Sports The Magazine in April 2007, said Tuesday that advertising revenue has declined about 35 percent in the last year.

“The reality is if we don’t get some backers, we won’t be able to keep the publication going in central Indiana,” said Temple, 50, who previously worked in AT&T’s information technology department and in sales and marketing for Van Ausdall & Farrar Inc. “We’re a small family-owned business and we don’t have deep pockets.”

VYPE has two paid employees, and its content is fueled by a flock of freelance writers and photographers. The publication’s biggest expense is printing, which can run five figures per magazine run, Temple said.

“We won’t compromise on quality,” Temple said of the glossy color magazine. “If the quality goes down, that will cost us even more advertisers.”

If Temple is unable to save VYPE, the magazine will be missed, said Bob Lovell, host of Indiana Sports Talk, a radio show covering high school and college sports that airs on 45 stations statewide including WFNI-AM 1070 and WIBC-FM 93.1.

“I’m really disappointed—bitterly disappointed—to hear they’re having difficulties,” Lovell said. “This magazine is produced very professionally and has been very well received. With anyone who follows high school sports, it’s very well known. A lot of people will be disappointed if this magazine doesn’t make it.”

VYPE is fighting a battle which has only gotten tougher in recent years, Lovell said.

“High school sports are very popular, but the landscape there has become more and more crowded,” he said. “Look at all the resources our local TV stations put into covering it, and they’re also going after advertisers that want to target that market.”

Lovell’s show is produced by Network Indiana, which is owned by Indianapolis-based media conglomerate Emmis Communications Corp., whose local sales staff helps sell ads for the show.

“Phil has done a great job, but it’s tough to be a stand-alone and try to do it all,” Lovell said.

VYPE, which publishes six times annually, distributes 20,000 magazines across nine counties and covers 94 high schools. The publication is free, meaning its sole source of income is advertising revenue.

The publication covers primarily high school sports, but also devotes several pages each issue to covering Indiana high school graduates who have gone on to play in college. Vype also has been known to cover other school activities—such as cheerleading and band—often associated with sports.

Temple has tried to sell advertisers on the premise of not only reaching tens of thousands of parents, students and other high school sports followers, but also on doing a community service through VYPE.

Some of VYPE’s biggest sponsors include Franciscan St. Francis Health, Forum Credit Union and HHGregg.

“We want to appeal to some of the bigger companies in the area not just because it’s a great [return on investment], but because Vype highlights some of the positive things that are going on in our schools and in the lives of our students, and because one-fourth of whatever [advertisers] spend with us will be redirected to the schools.”

VYPE gives 25 percent of all its revenue to the VYPE Foundation, which awards grants to high school athletic departments each year. Despite its financial difficulties, Vype, through its foundation, still awarded area schools $26,000 this spring.

In addition to exposure in its magazine, VYPE offers advertisers exposure in its weekly e-newsletter (distributed mainly during the school year) and at its sponsored games of the week. VYPE offers advertising packages ranging from $200 to $5,000 per month, Temple said.

The next issue of VYPE is set to be published in mid-August, but Temple said it could be delayed a couple of weeks if extra time is needed to close new advertising deals.

If the right buyers came along, Temple said he and his wife also would consider selling the publication to keep it alive.

“With this city’s history in amateur sports, I think there’s a place here for this publication and I just want to see it keep going,” Temple said. “I want to help make that happen any way I can.”

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