Rodale is announcing that MaryAnn Bekkedahl, executive vp, group publisher, is leaving after 17 years at the health- and fitness publishing company.
Bekkedahl, whose contract was almost due to expire, said she was leaving to explore a digital career. A company rep said Rodale didn’t have plans to replace her. Her departure comes a few months after a change of guard at the company’s head, with Maria Rodale replacing Steve Murphy, a champion of Bekkedahl’s, as CEO.
It was Murphy who elevated Bekkedahl to the group publisher job in 2005, a platform Bekkedahl used to spearhead the company’s lauded effort to integrate print and online advertising sales.
Bekkedahl said her departure was unrelated to the change at the top. “It was my decision, and I know these things never seem that way, but I’m serious about immersing fully in the digital world,” she said in a phone interview. “Rodale has done a lot. We reorganized four years ago to be print and digital, and I wanted to leverage what I’ve done here and go all the way.”
“MaryAnn has been a huge asset to Rodale, and I am sad to see her go,” Maria Rodale said in a statement. “It would be impossible to list all of her many accomplishments, but there are some highlights that truly stand out. She integrated our print and digital sales groups into one blended team, leading the way for the industry, and has led major, complex integrated programs with key marketers such as Nissan, Westin, and Jeep, and has seen us through many corporate milestones.”
This past year, the ad recession has taken its toll on Rodale, forcing it to fold BestLife while some of its bigger titles have seen double-digit ad page declines. Prevention’s ad pages were down 26 percent to 814 while Men’s Health’s ad pages declined 21 percent to 823, per the Mediaweek Monitor.