By: Dave Astor
Longtime syndicate sales executive John Matthews is leaving United Media to become vice president/special sales at Universal Press Syndicate effective Aug. 26.
Matthews was national sales director of United, which he joined in 1991. Prior to that, he spent 17 years with Tribune Media Services.
Why is Matthews moving to Universal? “They’ve been after me for a long time,” he replied. “They put an offer on the table that was too good to pass up.”
Matthews, 58, also told E&P Online that he admires Universal’s “commitment to the newspaper industry,” its staffers, and its lineup of columnists and cartoonists. Among the syndicate’s best-known features are “The Boondocks,” “Cathy,” “Dear Abby,” “Doonesbury,” Roger Ebert’s column, “FoxTrot,” “Garfield,” “Non Sequitur,” and Pat Oliphant’s editorial cartoons.
The vice president/special sales position is new. Matthews’ duties haven’t been totally specified yet, but he’ll handle special features, continue selling features on the road, help Universal plan strategy, help train people, and more. He’ll continue to live in the Seattle area, traveling to Universal’s Kansas City headquarters about five or six times a year.
Matthews said his youngest son, Andrew, was worried that he might have to move to Kansas City. Then the 9 year old learned he was on a University of Washington baseball-camp team called the Royals, and suddenly wanted to live in K.C. — home of Major League Baseball’s Royals.
In a statement, Universal President Bob Duffy said: “This is a case where you learn about a person by competing with him. We learned that John Matthews is not only a talented salesman, but an executive who has the respect of both newspapers and the creative community. His endless good humor will be welcomed at Universal … .”