LGBT Magazine

CEO Michael Turner of LGBT magazine "Frontiers" is revamping and diversifying its content in an effort to reach more audiences. (Frontiers Media)

Ten years ago, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community browsed classified ads in niche publications to find the best places to mingle, drink and meet.

Now the Internet offers quicker alternatives, and the LGBT community appears to want more from its magazines than tips on night life.

Recognizing this shift, the LGBT magazine Frontiers on Thursday will announce a revamp under new Chief Executive Michael Turner. 

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The 32-year-old biweekly L.A.-based magazine has an estimated readership of about 90,000 people per issue and a staff of 19.

Turner, who has spent 25 years providing private equity, financial advisory, transaction and valuation services for a variety of companies, bought the publication this month for $361,000 when it was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. He hopes to expand the magazine from its traditional local base.

"Historically, when LGBT publications began, pre-Internet, classified ads were a means for people in the community to reach out to others," Turner said. "But that particular need is no longer viable or valid." 

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The CEO has also started eliminating "the porny, escorty, classified and display ads" the magazine is known for, which used to take up the bulk of its print edition.

The goal is to lure local and national businesses to take on half-page or full-page ads by eliminating all classified ads before the magazine's official relaunch, timed to coincide with the annual L.A. Pride Parade events in and around West Hollywood in June.

The publication will also shift away from stories that revolve around night life and instead provide a mix of national and local news and lifestyle features. 

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"We're going to embrace all the areas where the LGBT community lives, not just WeHo, and give them hyperlocal content," Turner said

The revamp will also include a digital transformation. "The company was slow to embrace digital," Turner said. "But the digital site has grown 600% in the last 12 months to 250,000 unique visitors per month and about 48,000 Facebook likes."

In the next three years, Turner said he hopes to increase the number of unique visitors to 2 million a month. 

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Other LGBT publications, such as the Advocate, have tried similar transformations by increasing their online presence. Founded in 1967, the Advocate reports on a range of topics including news and entertainment. Jeff Lettiere, the magazine's circulation director, said it has 100,000 paid print subscribers. Its Facebook page boasts 136,000 "likes."

Relaunching Frontiers could be a good idea, said journalist David Ehrenstein, 66, who has written for the Advocate and Gay City News, based in New York City.

"For years, Frontiers has been like a bar rag … found in WeHo and WeHo equivalents," he said. "But the gay community has completely changed over the last 10 years. It's gone from being a covert community to an overt community."

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For Frontiers, he said, "You can't stay where you were as a publication. The audience will move on because the audience sees being gay in an entirely different way."

The magazine will also publish a special edition in Russian on Thursday, which Turner plans on distributing to the Russian community in L.A. and various figures in Russia, including President Vladimir Putin.

"We hope that it will be a positive message from the gay community to Russia and the Russian communities of L.A.," Turner said. "We are reaching out to them to show them who we [the LGBT community] really are."

saba.hamedy@latimes.com