Publisher’s Corner: 25 Years of Health, Wellness & Environment (Turn, Turn, Turn)

JB Lester

Twenty-five years ago, a well-traveled community publisher branched out on his own and started up a fledgling magazine called The Healthy Planet. Aided by a silent partner/favorite uncle, this alternative publication was fairly radical for St. Louis and its environs. Climate change was just being whispered about and alternative health and wellness were topics only being practiced on the Right and Left coasts. What was this “hippie” publication all about?

I set up a booth at the 1997 Earth Day Festival in Tower Grove Park and handed out the first edition of The Healthy Planet magazine to a mostly receptive crowd. I was set up next to the popular tie-dyed t-shirt booth, so we got a lot of the overflow crowd. I had no idea if this type of magazine would fly in conservative St. Louis, but the timing turned out to be in my favor. There was a wave of environmental consciousness and alternative health care sweeping the country. The Healthy Planet jumped on that wave and started our ride. Twenty-Five years later, we are here, battered a bit from the pandemic economy, but we are still sharing information and resources that will help our readers improve the quality of their lives.

The Healthy Planet has been online-only since the beginning of 2020, and we have maintained a good readership during these trying times. Most of our readers and many of our advertisers have continued to support our virtual edition. Good news, we are planning on going back to print this fall, exact date to be determined. I also want to announce that the magazine will be under new leadership soon as a long-time friend and colleague Susan Hunt-Bradford has purchased the magazine and is the new publisher. Between The Healthy Planet for 25 years and the Webster-Kirkwood Times for 17 years, I have been a local owner-operator businessperson and publisher for more than 4 decades. Now in my 70s, it’s time to take a break and work on my writing and my art. I hope to find time between bottle feedings and dirty diapers so kindly donated by my grandson Cooper.

Susan Hunt-Bradford has been a professor at St. Louis Community College at Meramec for more than 25 years as well as a fellow adjunct instructor at Webster University. Her experience in teaching mass communications and advertising will help her navigate the sometimes-fickle waters of marketing and revenue generation. She is also planning on working with students, both recently graduated and internships, in helping to keep The Healthy Planet magazine thriving and up-to-date. I am sure between Susan and the young people she will be working with, a new and energetic environment will be created aboard the S.S. Healthy Planet. Most of all, Susan is a good person, just the right stuff to take the helm for the magazine’s next voyage.

I will stay on as an advisor and perhaps guest columnist for The Healthy Planet until Susan and her staff no longer need my sage advice. I expect that many of your favorite columnists will stay on, and you will be able to enjoy their work for many years to come. And look for some new writers, too. This new blood can only enhance a magazine with a strong reputation and avid readership. And I want to say right now that it has been my pleasure to be a voice for green and healthy living for a quarter of a century. The people who have worked with me over the years have been like angels of hope for such a publication to have lasted this long. The reason quite honestly has been talent, professionalism and integrity. The Healthy Planet staff and contributors have come to our magazine because they care about how we live our lives and how we treat the planet and the people who live here. So many have given so much for so long. I have been blessed with their friendships (Jean, Mike, Linda, Celia, Matt, Denise, Lois, Leah, Colleen, Niki) to name just a few of the dozens who have etched their names in Healthy Planet lore.

Now you are in for a treat as The Healthy Planet takes on new challenges and creates new opportunities for its advertisers and readers. I look at this transition as a major upgrade that is needed to compete in today’s publishing world. I will look on as fond observer and dedicated reader now. The limelight I need now is from my grandchildren and for the characters in my stories. I am inspired to move on to my next chapter and I look forward to seeing what Susan and her crew can do with the ship that I set a sail 25 years ago. Bon Voyage and look for the Jackson James Chronicles coming to somewhere soon and The Healthy Planet to come back to print this fall. It’s been a pleasure serving all of you! “Turn, turn, turn.”