Chicago ‘Hoy’ Ramping Up Circ, Moving To ‘Burbs

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Tribune Co.’s Chicago Spanish-language daily Hoy is pumping up its free-distribution by 40% and expanding into the suburbs starting Monday.

On weekends, Hoy is gradually increasing the distribution number and reach of its total market coverage product Fin de Semana. Ultimately, the paper, which now delivers 211,000 to heavily Hispanic Zip Codes mostly in the city limits of Chicago, will reach 290,000 households through address-specific distribution, said Hoy Chicago General Manager Julian Posada.

The changes — which include stationing a full-time reporter in the suburbs and dedicating pages to suburban news — are part of a two long-term strategies, for the newspaper and for its Chicago Tribune parent.

Posada said the idea is to have no duplication of advertising preprints of the Tribune papers that are distributed on weekends: The core Tribune, the quick-read RedEye, and Hoy. RedEye, a free tabloid distributed through boxes and store drops, recently introduced a Saturday paper that is home-delivered by customer request. One regular insert in the weekend RedEye is Parade magazine, which is not included in copies distributed to Sunday Tribune subscribers.

Hoy is looking to the do the same thing, Posada said, as it steps up its suburban distribution — and comes up against two well-established weekly rivals that have a head start in the ‘burbs, ImpreMedia’s La Raza, and Reflejos, a bilingual paper now owned by the Daily Herald that was created specifically as a suburban-oriented Hispanic publication.

“All of us do a saturation model,” Posada said. “But this will be address-specific…It’s a distribution strategy that works much cleaner. You can turn on and turn off a free subscriber. Every copy will have message in English and Spanish explaining why (the household) is getting, and how they can call in and cancel.”

On weekdays, the number of Monday through papers distributed is rising to an average of 62,000. Hoy, which this month marks the fourth anniversary of its launch, will distribute 100,000 copies on Fridays.

Some of that will fill in gaps in penetration inside Chicago Latino neighborhoods. “We’re still not where we want to be in penetration,” he said. “There are some … neighborhood where it’s hard to find us after 9 a.m.”

But the bulk of the increase will be dedicated to moving to the suburbs — where 52% of Chicago-area Hispanics now live, and where Hoy’s pass-along rate can be as high as five readers.

“A chunk of that will be free home delivery,” Posada said. The two highly Hispanic suburban municipalities, Elgin and Aurora, “aren’t really single-copy market, as we’ve seen from distributing Fin de Semana.”

During the week, two pages will be dedicated to suburban news. “In the past, we’ve had news from the suburbs, but we’ve been passive about. Now we’re taking it seriously,” Posada said.

A reporter will be assigned to the suburbs, working out of either the Chicago Tribune’s Schaumburg or Oak Brook bureaus.

Hoy needs to take seriously the Hispanic growth in the suburbs, he added: “Pages are not going to be cut to make room for suburban news. We’ve made a commitment.”

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