Rolling Stone Says Goodbye to San Francisco

Jann Wenner is finally abandoning the home where he founded Rolling Stone nearly 42 years ago. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the now New York publisher will shutter its three-person office at 1700 Montgomery St.

The office housed three Wenner Media personnel: One Rolling Stone sales rep, who will relocate to Wenner Media’s Los Angeles office; one Men’s Journal sales rep, who was let go; and one assistant who was has also been laid off.

“There wasn’t enough business to justify having a full-time office in San Francisco,” spokesman Mark Neschis told the paper. “It’s a challenging economic environment.” Indeed and three people in one tiny office is sure to make all the difference in the world.

In all honesty Wenner pretty much abandoned the city that had nurtured his publication when he moved the company to New York in 1977. We’re sure he didn’t leave behind any friends or good will when he told the Chronicle at that time that SF was, “a provincial backwater.”

Read more about Rolling Stone’s history with San Francisco after the jump.

Ben Fong-Torres, who joined the magazine as an editor in 1969, remembers a different time though. A time when Rolling Stone built their foundation on the SF music scene, covering Janis Joplin and the Jefferson Airplane constantly, and running a long feature on a spread of drug busts at The Grateful Dead’s studio on Ashbury Street.

“It was one of the energy centers of the cultural, rock ‘n’ roll scene of the mid- to late ’60s,” he said. “For Rolling Stone to be in San Francisco gave it a particular strength, a singularity. Of course, we also naturally nurtured our own scene here. We gave a lot of attention to local bands…It was just natural because they were in our backyard and we saw them all the time, at the Fillmore, the Avalon Ballroom and also clubs like the Matrix.”

Those happy days are long gone though. Today Rolling Stone is struggling with a 17 percent drop in ad pages&#151compared to the same time last year&#151and their brother publication, Men’s Journal, is suffering from a 39 percent drop in ad pages from last year.

Lowell Bergman
, professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley and an editor at RS until it moved to New York in ’77, says things at RS have changed as well, which maybe precipitating this fall in the empire. “Jann Wenner got himself a jet and a home in the Hamptons…Its focus moved more in what we call a pop culture direction.”