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AMI’s RadarOnline An Ad-Free Ghost Town

balks_box.jpg
RadarOnline executive editor Alex Balk leaves headquarters for the last time
(Photo: Choire Sicha)

RadarOnline began publishing again on Monday, following the magazine’s closure and American Media Inc.‘s purchase of RadarOnline on Friday. We’ve heard from multiple tipsters about Radar‘s grim advertising picture prior to its shutdown, as well as AMI’s plans for relaunching the Web site with none of the previous editorial staff.

An ex-employee told us that “the only real warning sign” prior to
the regime change at Radar was that the “Friday paychecks
hadn’t been deposited” and “they also locked the online staff out of
the Web site… shortly before the official meeting.” During that
Friday morning meeting, our source says the Radar crew learned
about AMI’s reasons for purchasing the site, along with future plans for the new project.

The Radar’s staff was told that the original investors had decided that “Radar, as a financial endeavor, wasn’t
feasible.” According to the source, AMI apparently plans to “‘populate’ the site after cleaning out the staff.” Existing employees were told that “none of the original staff will be staying on with AMI” and that RadarOnline’s new ownership would “use the name and brand, staff it with AMI writers and editors, and turn it into more of a TMZ-type site.” Only time will tell what AMI’s new direction will really mean for Radar’s online content.

As of Monday, Radar’s once-great Web site had been stripped of its scathing take on media and celebrity. Instead, it was a virtual ghost town: As of this writing, 12 bland celebrity gossip items
credited to “FI Staff” had appeared on Radar’s daily Fresh
Intelligence
blog. Due to technical problems at the site,
exposed chunks of raw HTML in the sidebars appear where banner ads formerly ran.

Not to worry: RadarOnline’s technical problems won’t cause any friction between the new bosses and the site’s former advertisers, because according to another former Radar staffer, the site’s “ad sales people were incompetent, so we don’t have to worry about any sold campaigns having to be canceled. There were no campaigns planned to go active in the near future.” That goes a long way to explain why
Radar’s investors thought they had no chance of making money
with the site. It remains to be seen whether AMI can do any better.

Hunter Walker

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