Former Observer Features Editor Has Big Plans for Pasadena Magazine

Maria Russo (pictured), who worked at the New York Observer under Peter Kaplan from 2002 to 2004 before moving west for a four-year stint with the LA Times Calendar section, has been at the helm of bi-monthly city magazine Pasadena since late March. Today, as part of a very ambitious new vision for the publication, she officially launched the revamped website

“They loved my idea of broadening the magazine geographically and going for longer-form stories,” editor-in-chief Russo tells FishbowlNY via telephone. “Pasadena has the second highest concentration of non-profits in the country after D.C. There’s also this incredible science/tech scene with Cal Tech, JPL and so on, that offers all sorts of rich opportunities for coverage.”

And it’s not just about Pasadena anymore. Since the publication was launched in 2007 with backing from Mark Hulme, owner of a Texas magazine empire and currently also a producer on the Ashton KutcherSteve Jobs biopic, the area has fully morphed into Greater LA’s equivalent of Brooklyn. The strand between Silver Lake and Pasadena, where Russo works with two other full-time staff and an intern, has exploded with Highland Park, Eagle Rock and Glendale migration and artistic activity.

Los Angeles magazine has a west side feel to it,” Russo notes. “I think there’s definitely room for two broad-based city magazines. We’re in the process of determining how we are going to move forward staff-wise, but no matter what, the operation is going to rely on involved relationships with our freelance contributors.”

Content on the site comes largely from the April/May and July/August print issues. Feature articles include “Revival of the Fittest,” a look at the Silver Lake abode occupied by public radio personality Madeleine Brand with Joe DeMarie and their two children, and “The Second Waterfall,” an investigation into an alarming string of recent hiker deaths in Eaton Canyon.

Russo’s husband, Matthew DeBord, is an equally versatile journalist. He was most recently a senior reporter at KPCC and contributes regularly to the New York Times. Publisher-CEO Hulme meanwhile is also chairman of The Five Star Institute, which operates the well-known Five Star Conference.

Check out the new website Pasadena magazine website here.

[Russo photo credit: Wenona Cole-McLaughlin]