Houstonia's Losses Mount
The new Houstonia Magazine sent its publisher packing after just one issue. Its much-promoted editor-in-chief hire lasted . . . three issues.
John Wilburn has joined publisher Lou DeLone in making a quick departure from Houstonia.
As the first editor of the Houston Press, Wilburn carries a heady reputation in the Bayou City media market. As a newcomer to the regional market, Houstonia knew he was just the man to hire as its first editor-in-chief.
But not long after Houstonia's April launch, Wilburn is gone, marking the magazine's second major leadership departure in a few months.
"He was offered a new position as editor-at-large of the magazine, which he ultimately declined to accept."
Editorial director Scott Vogel — the Houston native who founded the publication with sister Nicole Vogel — tells CultureMap via email that Wilburn left the post in May.
"John was hired to be the editor-in-chief of the magazine, and was the number two editor here, reporting to me," Vogel writes. "In April, he was offered a new position as editor-at-large of the magazine, which he ultimately declined to accept."
Multiple sources tell CultureMap that Scott Vogel has taken on an increasingly vocal role in editorial and determining the magazine's content and that Wilburn was hired with the understanding that he'd be able to chart the magazine's editorial course. Hence his editor-in-chief title.
Wilburn acknowledged he received CultureMap's request for an interview, but did not return phone calls or comment further. He finished up his tenure with a final editor's note in the magazine's June issue (though the note does not acknowledge his impending departure).
Wilburn served a stint as managing editor for the Houston Chronicle, which he joined after helping kick off the Houston branch of Microsoft's Sidewalk.com (now CitySearch) as well as serving as operations manager for KHOU's news website. He was working as an opinion editor at the Chronicle when he left for Houstonia Magazine.
With Wilburn at its helm, Houstonia quickly found itself with a lineup of local talent that included Houston Press alum like Robb Walsh, John Nova Lomax and Cathy Matusow.
“The chance to capture, between magazine covers, a city as muscular, diverse and energetic as Houston, offers an irresistible lure for those of us who love colorful storytelling,” Wilburn said in a January press release announcing Houstonia's arrival.
But, the thrill apparently didn't last long.
This isn't the first — or second time for that matter — the barely launched magazine's made headlines for drama not in its pages. Houstonia found itself changing its name after the Houstonian Hotel objected to its original planned title: Houstonian Magazine.