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If you want to know how the crazy astronaut is doing, whether Britney has checked in or out of rehab today, or if anyone you know has claimed to be the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s child, you already have plenty of options. Now you have another one. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, Radar, a celebrity magazine that has come and gone twice in the past four years, is back. The magazine has been savaged regularly in its previous incarnations. Gawker used to make fun of its circulation claims — but even Gawker almost likes the first issue of the new version.
The difference this time for Radar may be the web. According to the WSJ, “Helped by links from sites like the Huffington Post and TMZ, Radar Online in its first month drew more unique visitors than established blogs such as Defamer [note: Defamer and Gawker are owned by the same company], according to Nielsen/NetRatings. It now ranks 110th on Technorati’s list of most popular blogs — after starting at 18,805.” So, it’s a credible website.
But it’s working on magazine economics, not website economics. Is it a viable magazine? Magazine consultant Martin Walker doesn’t think so: “I don’t understand why everyone loves it so much and is willing to invest money in it. It has failed two times in the past. What is it really, an adult gossip book, if you think about it, right?” And 37 pages of advertising in its latest debut issue is better than its previous debuts, but it’s still an unpromising ad-edit ratio for a print magazine, especially one guaranteeing a circulation of only 150,000 for now. Radar may turn out to be a successful website, sort of a higher-end gossip site. But in this environment who’s going to pay for that every month? And can Radar‘s website be popular enough to offset its enormous print costs? Not likely.