The Princeton Packet Inc. (Packet Media Group) and Broad Street Media LLC announced today that they have reached a definitive agreement to form a new company to own and operate the newspapers and digital web sites of Packet Media Group. The transaction is expected to close on April 1.
Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a merger and acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represented Packet Media Group in the deal.
Packet Media Group is owned by the Kilgore family. James B. Kilgore, who has lived in Princeton for most of his life, will remain publisher of the new company’s titles and will retain a seat on the board. He will also remain active in the Princeton area. Packet Media’s general manager and marketing director Michele Nesbihal will also keep her current positions, and said she was “excited about the new opportunities, support and infrastructure that Broad Street Media brings to the table.”
Kilgore started with Packet Media Group in 1976 and has served in his current role since 1980. He oversaw a period of significant growth for the company, including its embrace of digital publishing in 1995. The new company will be located in the current location of Packet Media Group on Witherspoon Street in Princeton.
“With the changing media landscape and challenges facing local community journalism, our company felt it was important to team up with another publishing group committed to community publishing,” Kilgore said. “The synergies that Broad Street offers will help the newly formed company and our dedicated and talented staff realize operating efficiencies and give the company access to newer technology and a team of professionals with deep roots in our industry.”
Broad Street Media CEO Darwin Oordt, a successful industry veteran, will oversee the day-to-day operations of the new company, as well as its strategic direction. He said he was “excited by the opportunity that Packet Media Group offers. It is a company with deep local history and with solid editorial products in a very dynamic, upscale market.” He added, “The Broad Street ownership team feels very strongly that the new company can produce newspapers and digital sites that the community wants to read and where advertisers wish to showcase their retail stores and businesses, allowing the new company to maintain long-term profitability. We really want to grow this company.”
Broad Street Media was formed in 2010. It currently publishes a group of community newspapers and specialty products with a total combined circulation of more than 500,000. These include the Northeast Times, Star and Philadelphia Weekly in Philadelphia; the Midweek Wire in Bucks County; Montgomery County Living in Montgomery County; the Wire and Gloucester County Living in southern New Jersey; Employment Weekly in Philadelphia and New Jersey; and other newspapers in northern New Jersey and Maryland.
The Princeton Packet, Packet Media Group’s flagship, has been published since 1786 under several different names. It has been published as The Princeton Packet since 1916.
Packet Media Group was founded in 1955, when James Kilgore’s father Bernard (Barney) Kilgore, bought the paper. Kilgore proceeded to expand, adding several papers to the group, until his death in 1967. Barney Kilgore was also the legendary head of Dow Jones & Co., where his vision and leadership led to the growth of the Wall Street Journal from a readership base of 30,000 paid daily circulation to a base of more than one million paid daily circulation.
Packet Media Group’s publications have paid circulation of about 40,000, circulating in Princeton and surrounding communities. Besides the Princeton Packet, the company publishes the Hopewell Valley News, Hillsborough Beacon, Windsor-Hights Herald and the Cranbury Press. Packet Media Group’s main local portal website, centraljersey.com, has monthly unique visitor base of about 100,000. ••