Jack Bierman dies at 71; founder, editor of L.A. Parent magazine

Jack Bierman founded a magazine that looked at Southern California from the perspective of a child.

"When we ask what there is to do in Los Angeles, we don't ask it from 6 feet up," he said in a 1984 interview with The Times. "We look at the view from 3 feet. That is, what is there to do for these 3-feet-tall people?"

The perspective might have been diminutive, but as it turned out the readership for L.A. Parent was considerable. It tapped into a burgeoning audience of concerned baby boomers having children of their own.

"Our reader is often an aggressive parent," he said, "one who wants his or her child to read by 3-4 years old. They really believe they can make a positive impact on their developing child's life."

L.A. Parent spawned two local offshoots and helped spark a national trend in regional publications for parents sometimes looking to give their children the earliest possible start.

"I've seen and spoken to these children," Bierman said, "and they are unbelievably bright. I don't know if they are always happy or as emotionally well-developed as they are intellectually well-developed, but they can play the violin at 3 years old and speak French at 4."

Bierman died Thursday at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. He was 71 and a resident of La Cañada. His brother, Carey, said the cause of death was septic shock.

He is survived by daughters Lisa, who lives in Los Angeles; and Clare, who attends La Cañada High School; and his brothers Carey of La Crescenta and Rick in New York. His wife, Susan Owaki Bierman, died last year.

Jack Victor Bierman was born Oct. 15, 1942, in New York. He graduated from Cal State Los Angeles, where he was editor of the campus newspaper, University Times.

The idea for the parenting publication came out of a conversation he had with his brother Rick about elaborate precautions taken by parents to ensure their kids' safety while trick-or-treating for Halloween. "I said that if the situation was so desperate in cities, there should be a publication to help parents," Jack Bierman said.

With about $7,000 of his own and $5,000 lent by his future wife, Bierman started Pony Ride, as the magazine was first called, in 1980. It was distributed to schools, bookstores, the zoo and other outlets, sometimes delivered by Bierman himself. Within six months the magazine was in the black.

The name was changed to L.A. Parent and in five years it grew from an initial 12 pages per issue to nearly 70. Carey joined the venture as publisher, and, with Jack as editor, they started Parenting, aimed at Orange County, and then San Diego Parent. Additionally, they tried a publication for teenagers, Noise, but it was not a success.

When the Biermans sold their company in 1997, the parenting magazines were selling a combined $6 million a year in advertising, Carey Bierman said.

Jack Bierman was retired at the time of his death.

david.colker@latimes.com

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