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Route 66 Pulse may have a heartbeat March 26, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Publications.
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I’ve received word in recent days that an effort is being made to revive the Route 66 Pulse newspaper, which ceased publication August 2008 after a little more than two years.

Bob “Crocodile” Lile, president of the Texas Old Route 66 Association; and Jim Conkle, executive director of the California Route 66 Preservation Foundation, are traveling Route 66 next week from Shamrock, Texas, to Chicago to sell advertisements, find people to submit articles, and drum up support for the publication.

Lile was a writer and regional distributor for the old Pulse, and Conkle was its managing editor.

I e-mailed Lile, Conkle and Jason Bernhardt, associate publisher of the Pulse during its first incarnation, to find more information about the “new” Pulse. Here’s what I was able to piece together:

  • Publication day for the revived Pulse will be May 18, with distribution along all of Route 66 beginning the next day.
  • It will be a 50,000-copy print run, as opposed to the old Pulse’s peak of 30,000. Ad  rates will remain the same.
  • The initial issue will be printed in California, but the Pulse probably will seek a printer in a more central location or several sites.
  • A copy of the Pulse probably will have a price tag, as opposed to previously giving it away for free.
  • Mercury Publishing Group, which owned the Pulse, has agreed in principle to donate the newspaper and its Web site to the fledgling Route 66 Alliance. At that point, Mercury would no longer be involved. The plan is that the Pulse would be a key part of the Alliance.
  • The Pulse Web site may have only “teaser” parts of the stories online. Organizers want readers to primarily use the actual print publication. It’s planned to give paid subscribers, however, full access to the Web site.
  • Part of the costs for the new issue will be underwritten by David Myers, founder of The Wildlands Conservancy. As a result, that issue will contain stories about solar, wind and renewable energy on the road.
  • Conkle wants a lot of input from the Route 66 community on how to make the publication more successful.
  • Whether there’s a second issue, Lile wrote, “depends on whether or not we can generate enough cash to pay the bills.”

That last part is the rub. The Pulse suffered steep financial losses during its run and encountered problems distributing the newspaper along all 2,200 miles of Route 66. Perhaps the changes that are planned will help resolve those problems.

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