'It's been a delight.' Why The Voice Tribune is ending publication after 73 years

·4 min read
The Voice Tribune honors New Voices of Philanthropy at After Hours at the Speed, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 in Louisville, Ky.
The Voice Tribune honors New Voices of Philanthropy at After Hours at the Speed, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 in Louisville, Ky.

The August issue of The Voice Tribune on newsstands now is the last for the 73-year-old St. Matthews institution.

Publisher Janice Carter Levitch Humphrey, who in 2021 took over ownership of the publication, said advertising income just wasn’t enough to offset rising production costs.

“It’s been a delight having the opportunity to publish this beautiful magazine every month,” she said. “And for me to work with, I call them the dream team, that we put together, has been incredible.”

The St. Matthews mainstay has long covered community events and society through columns, articles and photo galleries, showcasing stunning homes, fashion and culinary experiences and spotlighting local artists and newsmakers.

Founded in 1949 as a weekly newspaper, it shifted in size, frequency, ownership and pricing through the decades, most recently existing as a free, monthly publication billing itself as an “upscale, influential, premier society magazine.”

Through it all, the publication kept a pulse on the goings-on of St. Matthews but expanded to cover other areas, including Jeffersontown and East End neighborhoods.

Levitch Humphrey joined the magazine in 2017.

With her children newly off to college, she found herself with more free time on her hands. The then-editor of the magazine offered her the opportunity to write a column, which often focused on community goings-on and interesting stories from her travels.

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After a few years, Levitch Humphrey entered discussions to buy the magazine and become its publisher.

“We wanted to carry on this local iconic magazine and do what we could to elevate it, and off we went,” she said.

The Voice Tribune split in 2021 from the alt-weekly LEO Weekly, which was bought last summer by Cleveland, Ohio-based Euclid Media Group.

She took ownership in 2021, capping a two-year process to acquire the publication.

Levitch Humphrey’s husband, Steven Humphrey, the publication’s chief financial officer, said his first goal was eliminating the publication’s debt, which he said he managed to do and hopes will help the magazine achieve a “graceful” exit.

Humphrey said the couple was not taking a salary (the publication had seven salaried employees) while personally investing to keep the magazine going “with hopes it would make a difference."

“I had to start writing more checks and making more contributions to keep it afloat,” he told The Courier Journal. “I don’t expect to get rich out of this, but I don’t want to get poor.”

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Advertisement rates, which had been lowered during the early months of the pandemic, were at market rate and couldn’t be raised. Then there were increases in expenses for a website redesign and rising rent. Paper and ink costs were up, too.

It became clear that as much as they wanted to keep the publication afloat, it was a bad business decision.

"There was just no way of sustaining it,” he said.

Levitch Humphrey broke the news in an Aug. 1 goodbye column announcing the “very challenging and gut-wrenching decision” to stop publication.

She noted she’s working with Sophisticated Living Magazine, a bi-monthly luxury print publication based in Louisville, to provide an outlet for advertisers and scheduled media coverage and sponsorships.

Levitch Humphrey said The Voice Tribune will have an “ongoing presence” on social media and the website will be archived.

There were “a few tearful moments of farewell” at the magazine's final launch event this month, where Levitch Humphrey thanked guests for their support over the years and heard many stories about what the community publication meant to readers.

“We listened to a lot of wonderful stories about their love of The Voice,” she said.

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Business reporter Matthew Glowicki can be reached at mglowicki@courier-journal.com, 502-582-4000 or on Twitter @mattglo.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: The Voice Tribune magazine in St. Matthews ceases publication