More than 40 years ago, three local journalists shared the belief that the North Bay, specifically Sonoma County, was poised for growth and change. In 1975, they joined forces and founded Sonoma Business, and for the next 25 years they reported on the business of doing business in the North Bay.
In 2000, Sonoma Business was up for sale and three business partners from Chicago—Norm and Joni Rosinski and her brother, John Dennis—were looking to invest in a new publishing venture. They purchased the magazine with the intention of continuing the magazine’s well-established history in the business community. “In magazine publishing, five years sometimes earns longevity awards, so we recognized the achievement that 25 years of continuous publishing represented and we knew from the outset Sonoma Business was a special publication serving a special market. We also knew we wouldn’t be content resting on the magazine’s past laurels, but rather, we wanted to focus on how it could be improved to better serve the business community as we went forward,” says Norm, who went on to serve as publisher. “We were committed to fresh ideas, renewed vitality and an ongoing dedication to the pursuit of excellence.”
Along the way, the new partners made changes. They agreed the magazine was in need of a stronger team of writers and recruited expert columnists to cover topics of specific interest in the North Bay. They also reformatted the magazine, adding new information and original content that offered an in-depth look at issues impacting the business community. The partners also recognized the market was changing and readers wanted more information about the hot topics and issues impacting the region’s quality of life, such as workforce housing, transportation, jobs, and the conflict between growth and the environment. “The magazine offered a platform for opposing views—especially between growth and environment,” says Norm. “The changes were incremental, but after the first year, we knew we were on the right track. Readership and advertising were growing rapidly.”
Two years later, the partners agreed it was time to expand the magazine to include Marin and Napa counties. “We knew from the many meetings we had with business leaders in Napa and Marin that the magazine would be warmly received,” Norm recalls. “Our only fear was that our long-established readership in Sonoma County might resent the magazine broadening its focus to include the entire North Bay. But this fear proved to be unfounded since businesses were interested in what was happening in the entire North Bay, knowing they were competing for increased market share, not only locally, but regionally.”
In 2002, the magazine was renamed NorthBay biz. (Note: One word, NorthBay, with a lowercase “b” for biz—not to be confused with another local newspaper with a similar name.) In November that year, the magazine launched its first issue with a new name and a new masthead—NorthBay biz.
“Those first two years, we were working seven days a week,” Norm recalls. “Success didn’t happen overnight, but slowly. Sonoma County became our home and we were rapidly accepted into the community as local residents.” Along the way, the three partners relocated to the area.
For the next 15 years, the magazine dedicated its efforts to serve as a local source for business news and information. And though there’s still some confusion over the name, it often brings smiles to the magazine’s staff and editorial team, followed by a swift explanation distinguishing the differences. The most obvious difference being its format—a four-color, glossy magazine. Or, as Norm is fond of saying, “The one that won’t leave ink on your hands.”
Today, NorthBay biz has a strong presence in the area. “The magazine is regional in nature, and it’s appreciated because it delivers information that’s not available anywhere else,” says Norm, who’s been in the news business for more than 40 years. “So many people tell me they read it cover-to-cover. It’s a must-read, and that’s the goal—to connect with readers.”
November 9, 2017, marked another momentous event in the magazine’s notable 43-year history when it was purchased by Amaturo Sonoma Media Group. ASMG owns and operates a number of stations in the North Bay, including News/Talk KSRO, Froggy 92.9 FM, KHits 104.9 FM, Hot 101.7 FM and 97.7 FM The River, reaching more than 200,000 adults each week. “This acquisition presented a new opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” says Lawrence Amaturo, the new publisher of the NorthBay biz and managing partner of ASMG. The magazine’s writers and editors will complement our News/Talk stations’ reporters and anchors. And we’ve always known that our reach must go beyond the Sonoma County borders.”
Norm and Joni Rosinski will be moving to the Chicago area to spend more time with their two daughters and five grandkids, but are already planning to be frequent visitors to Wine Country as they also have a son and family (one grandchild, so far) living on the peninsula. “The change is bittersweet,” says Joni, who served as vice president of sales for 17 years. “We’ll be spending more time with our grandchildren, but will miss the people we’ve grown to care about in the North Bay. Over the years, we’ve made so many friends. It’s never been just about selling ad space, but helping the people we care about grow their business.”
As for John Dennis, he will remain in his role as president of NorthBay biz. “I’m particularly pleased that the magazine’s ownership will remain local,” he says. “Our readers are sure to benefit from combined news sources, and our advertisers have much to gain from cross-promotional efforts. We’re looking forward to working with the Amaturo Sonoma Media Group.”
As for the future, readers can continue to rely on NorthBay biz as a local source for news, latest trends and information in the business community, and just as the magazine’s tagline promises, “Helping grow your business isn’t just something we do…It’s all we do!” In the meantime, the magazine will turn the page to an exciting new era. “This was a natural accretion and a business opportunity that our existing workforce will benefit from,” says Amaturo. “Our reporters and editors share the same geographical location for our focus. We can only improve each other by working together. The possibilities are endless.”
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