by Stephen Buel
In the wake of the recent announcement that a small group of investors has purchased the East Bay Express and returned its independence, readers of this blog and other commentators have asked for more details about the nature of our new ownership team. When we announced the May 17 purchase, we revealed the names of four of our investors, including all three of the partners who work at the paper and also a fourth investor with relevant newspaper experience. But lest anyone assume that we are hiding anything related to the identity of our other colleagues, we are happy to formally introduce all our investors:
As an independent record label distributor and the owner of a chain of record stores, Hal Brody founded a Kansas City-based alternative newsweekly known as The Pitch. He served as publisher of that paper for 22 years before selling it in 1999. He has since worked in real estate and opened a tea shop, Tea Drops; and online tea retailer, BlissfulTea.com.
Editor of the Express since late 2001, Stephen Buel has worked as a Bay Area journalist for much of the past quarter century. He first moved to the East Bay to attend UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, where he recently returned as an instructor. He began his journalism career at the former Berkeley Gazette and Albany Times-Journal. He also worked at the San Jose Mercury News and at the alternative newsweekly Metro. His wife, Judith Gallman, is a veteran journalist who edits Oakland Magazine and Alameda Magazine.
Gary Jenkins is one of the founding partners of Punch Software, North America's leading provider of home design software. Gary has an MBA and a computer science degree. An entrepreneur turned small business investor, he is the part owner of several small companies. Currently a resident of Kansas City, Gary was a fan and longtime reader of The Pitch, and jumped at the chance to be involved in the resurrection of the East Bay Express.
Paul Ung is an Oakland resident currently serving as a spokesman for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia. In that position, he represents the United States Military Observer Group to the local and international press. Before that, he served in Iraq for 14 months as a member of the Army Reserve. A native of Saigon, Vietnam, he is a former database engineer for the Environmental Protection Agency in San Francisco.
Kelly Vance was an original investor in the East Bay Express in 1978. He has been reviewing movies for the paper since 1982, and has been on staff since 1990, primarily as arts and entertainment calendar editor. His wife, Lulu Feliciano, a former employee of the San Francisco Newspaper Agency and Century Theatres, is a marketing and media consultant.
Rick Watkins is the president of Watkins & Company, a real estate development and brokerage firm based in Kansas City. His experience includes most facets of commercial real estate development, brokerage and planning. While the company mission is "long-term ownership of high quality warehouse and industrial properties," Rick also has been involved in retail, multi-family, office, residential, entertainment, and master planned communities. Rick is a board member of Kansas City's Downtown Council and the AirWorld Property Owners Association while also being a member of the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Council, the Platte County Economic Development Council, and SmartPort, a non-profit economic development organization formed to promote and enhance the Kansas City port.
Jay Youngdahl is the managing partner of The Youngdahl Law Firm, a labor law firm that specializes in representing workers. Youngdahl is a graduate of the University of Texas law school, and also holds a Master's in Liberal Arts from St. John's College and a Master's in Divinity from Harvard University. He serves on the national council of Washington University's Brown School of Social Work, and is a board member of the Family Nurturing Center of Massachusetts. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Bradley Zeve founded Coast Weekly, now the Monterey County Weekly, in 1988, two years after having co-founded The Sun, a Santa Cruz alt-weekly. The Weekly has received more than 50 national, state, and local awards for its reporting. He is the former president of the California Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, served on the board of the national Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, and is past president of Sea Studios Foundation, a environmental filmmaking studio in Monterey.