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Barbara O’Dair has been named editor-in-chief of Prevention magazine, the 66-year-old title that is set to go ad-free beginning with its July issue.The Rodale title has been in flux of late. In addition to taking the big step of ditching all advertising,...

Rodale taps Barbara O’Dair as Prevention’s new editor

Barbara O’Dair has been named editor-in-chief of Prevention magazine, the 66-year-old title that is set to go ad-free beginning with its July issue.The Rodale title has been in flux of late. In addition to taking the big step of ditching all advertising,...

Rodale taps Barbara O’Dair as Prevention’s new editor

Barbara O’Dair has been named editor-in-chief of Prevention magazine, the 66-year-old title that is set to go ad-free beginning with its July issue.

The Rodale title has been in flux of late. In addition to taking the big step of ditching all advertising, the pocket-size title had burned through three editors in four years.

Rodale Editorial Director Michael LaFavore had been supervising Prevention since former Editor-in-Chief Bruce Kelley was given the old heave-ho in January.

At that time, Chairwoman Maria Rodale announced that the magazine was going to take the unusual step of going ad-free with the July issue — to hit newsstands next month.

O’Dair resigned on Tuesday as executive editor of Reader’s Digest, a job she held for more than eight years.

In an interesting twist, O’Dair had been reporting to Kelley, who landed as the editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest a month after he left Prevention.

The ad-free strategy evolved because Rodale was finding it was getting too expensive to sustain a high rate base — the minimum amount of circulation that the company was promising advertisers it would deliver each issue.

Ad rates are based on the total circulation. But with its rate base at 1.5 million, Rodale was forced to deliver 61,000 free copies each month.

Its paid subscriptions had tumbled 32.3 percent in the second half of 2015, to 1.3 million, and its single-copy sales dropped 8.2 percent, to 212,858 per issue.

Advertising was actually up in 2015, but it was still not sufficient to cover the circulation level that had to be boosted with discounted subscriptions.

So Rodale decided to gamble that it could charge higher newsstand and subscription prices, print fewer copies, and ultimately return the magazine, which is one of Rodale’s oldest, to profitability.

“With the move to an ad-free business model, Prevention will be a magazine that today’s health-minded consumer wants, needs and will pay for…,” said Maria Rodale.

The move is still considered a big gamble.

Most American consumer magazines derive the bulk of their revenue from ads — even in today’s tough ad climate.

The first ad-free issue will carry a cover price of $4.99 — an increase of $1 from its current cover price — and a subscription price of $48.

The circulation is eventually expected to level off at around 500,000, down from the 1,539,872 it was averaging per issue at the end of 2015, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

O’Dair was a senior editor on the launch of Entertainment Weekly and editor of Time Inc.’s now-defunct Teen People. She also edited 1997’s “The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock,” and was a deputy editor at that magazine and editor Wenner Media’s sister publication, Us.

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