Longform

War of the Words

Page 5 of 9

Over the years, Torres developed a mutual admiration society with TV y Más publisher David Kaye. He and Kaye often talked about teaming up to start a newspaper. In early 1999, Torres told Kaye he felt the market was ready.

"We said in the year 2000, there's going to be a census," he says. "And when the census comes out, if you've got something and it's established, you will be in a good position to truly take flight with this growing Hispanic market."

Torres chose an old friend from his radio days, Luis Manuel Ortiz (no relation to Luis Ortiz at the Behavior Research Center), to give the paper an editorial direction. Ortiz, 54, a native of Sonora, Mexico, had moved to Phoenix in 1983 and established himself in both the broadcast and print media. In the '80s, he founded two free bilingual magazines: Unidos and Cambio!. Ortiz also served as news director at KPHX-AM 1480, and delivered a daily commentary on that station called La Voz y la Pluma.

After divorcing his wife -- and publishing partner -- in 1997, Ortiz shut down Cambio! and moved back to Mexico. He was doing printing work, and had given up any lingering journalistic aspirations, when Torres called in September 1999. He said Ortiz was the only person qualified for the editing job at La Voz. Ortiz agreed.

With the exception of Tucson newspaper veteran Cecilia Toscano, who joined the staff as co-editor, Ortiz assembled a crew of reporters who were young and college-educated, but short on journalism experience. "It was my idea to bring in new, young people and train them," he says. "That way they wouldn't come in with concepts that were different than what we wanted. They would be open-minded and fresh."

Partner David Kaye prefers to remain behind the scenes.

The 38-year-old Kaye is hardly bashful. He's a smart, intensely competitive man with a penchant for the glib wisecrack. But he's also savvy enough to know that being a Jewish kid from Chicago who's selling periodicals to Arizona Latinos is enough of a cultural juggling act without putting your face in the cross hairs of the media.

Kaye was born in New York, grew up in Chicago, and moved to Tempe at 18 to enroll at Arizona State University. He never graduated from ASU, but he built an eclectic résumé of work experience. Kaye bought and sold cars, managed a restaurant, and ended up finding success in real estate. From there, he stumbled into publishing.

"I was managing an apartment complex over on Seventh Avenue and Indian School, and I started advertising with a lot of publications," Kaye says. "I was having a very difficult time. The market was terrible.

"So I didn't find a lot of advertising that worked, and I was very disappointed with the results I got. So I looked around and saw a void."

On November 23, 1991, Kaye started TV Weekly, a 28-page television programming guide. He worked out of his house, sold advertising door-to-door, and began with a circulation of 10,000. TV Weekly was English-only, but Kaye found that he was reaching a surprising number of Hispanics.

At the time, Southwest Supermarkets had only one location, at 35th Avenue and McDowell, and Kaye says he moved 500 to 600 copies a week of TV Weekly out of that store. He and Southwest owner, the late Mike Peterson, became fast friends.

"Mike said, 'You know, Dave, 80 percent of my customers are Hispanic, yet you're moving an awful lot of papers. Why?'"

Kaye suggested that the Arizona Republic had low penetration into the Hispanic market and that Hispanics simply found a free TV guide appealing. Peterson responded by offering his financial backing for a Spanish-language TV guide.

In February 1993, Kaye launched TV y Más. Its circulation has grown from 10,000 to 85,000, making it the largest Spanish-language publication in Arizona. But Kaye's play-to-win style -- and his close connection to Southwest Supermarkets -- hasn't endeared him to all his competitors.

"TV y Más is an Anglo business, so he comes from a business perspective, he doesn't see this as a community," says Juan Valera, of Monitor Hispano. "He's got a lot of control with Southwest, and he wanted us and Prensa Hispana taken out of there. He's wanted to force us out of business."

While Southwest Supermarkets has certainly been good for Kaye, he denies that he ever tried to use the supermarket chain to destroy his competitors. He says that he simply tried to clean up a chaotic, eyesore of a magazine section at Southwest Supermarkets by offering to build distribution racks and take over the Free Publication Display Program at the stores.

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Gilbert Garcia
Contact: Gilbert Garcia