Hearst Magazines is making a top-level change at O, The Oprah magazine, said to be one of its most profitable titles, replacing editor in chief Susan Casey with her No. 2, Lucy Kaylin.
According to Hearst, the move was initiated by Casey herself. David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, said Casey approached him earlier this year to say that she was ready to leave her role as day-to-day manager of O. Kaylin immediately became the heir apparent. “We looked at no outside candidates,” Carey told Adweek. “Lucy understood the brand so well … It was clear that she was the right person and that she was ready.”
The 2.5-million circulation magazine has traditionally been a big moneymaker for Hearst. But while year over year single-copy sales remained flat in the last six months of 2012, per the Alliance for Audited Media, O's newsstand sales had already dwindled to about half of what they were in 2006, partly owing to the talk diva's show going off the air. (Single-copy sales were down more than 30 percent between December 2010 and 2012 alone.)
The magazine has had more success with its tablet edition. It has the 13th largest digital replica circulation in the U.S., according to the AAM, with an average circ of 84,630 monthly digital copies (3.5 percent of its overall circulation) in the second half of 2012.
O was the first big women's magazine Casey had run; she had been the creative director of Outside, editor in chief of Sports Illustrated Women and development editor at Time Inc. She’s also written best-selling books about sharks (The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks) and massive ocean swells (The Waves). As editor of O, she’s penned articles on topics like the BP Gulf oil spill and a Brazilian healer called “John of God.”
She plans move back home to Hawaii where she'll be able to focus on writing a new book, but will maintain a connection with Hearst, occasionally contributing to O and acting as an advisor, said Carey.
Kaylin, who begins her new role on May 6, was hired as deputy editor about a month into Casey’s tenure. Kaylin’s background is more fashion-focused than her predecessor’s: She started her magazine career at Vogue, spent two decades at GQ, and was the executive editor of Marie Claire from 2006 until 2009 when she joined O. Like Casey, Kaylin is also an author, having written two books (For the Love of God: The Faith and Future of the American Nun and The Perfect Stranger: The Truth About Mothers and Nannies), and says that she plans to continue contributing to the magazine as its editor in chief.
“We’ve always been highly collaborative,” Kaylin said of her relationship with Casey. “She’s doing everything in her power to make this [transition] smooth for everyone.” (As for whether she had received the blessing of the magazine’s namesake, Kaylin reported that Winfrey “was in on everything.”)