Nada Marjanovich was just a few weeks from sending her first-ever edition of Long Island Pulse magazine to the printer when her startup, two-person company that operated above a storefront in Patchogue was thrown a curveball.
Her distributor bailed.
“Local magazines don’t last and they don’t make money,” he told her.
“So, I had 15,000 coming to me and no truck to get them out,” Marjanovich recalls.
But, she had a Lincoln Navigator.
The bundles were instead delivered to her garage in Patchogue and she used the full-size SUV to traverse Long Island starting at 4 a.m. She did that every morning until reporting to the office at 9 a.m.
Eventually, the stacks in her garage dwindled, and Pulse’s circulation grew.
Today, Long Island Pulse, which Marjanovich says is the first magazine to cover both Nassau and Suffolk counties, is among the largest regional magazines in the country. Its circulation has swelled to 100,000. Among the regional magazines she believes are bigger, one covers Los Angeles, and the other all of Texas.
The Pulse staff, which operates out of a nondescript industrial building (however beautifully decorated inside) in the heart of downtown, just celebrated the magazine’s 10th year in business with a special anniversary edition that hit the racks last month.
(See video below: The making of the Long Island Pulse Anniversary Issue)
“I think determination could never be undervalued,” Marjanovich says of her ability to survive those early days. Four years later, the magazine, which is filled with an editorial mix of arts, music, fashion, sports, automobile, real estate coverage and more, would muscle through a Great Recession.
Marjanovich says her story can never be extracted from that of Patchogue’s.
A New Jersey native whose career began at computer startups in New York City, Marjanovich made her way to Long Island after the dot-com bubble bursted in the late 1990s. She said the web hosting company she had worked for enjoyed one of the last successful initial public offerings on Wall Street before the new Internet economy took a nosedive.
Soon she discovered Patchogue.
She was invited to attend an event at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, which had been recently renovated, when she came upon Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri and village trustees Jack Kreiger and Gerry Crean.
In short, they were telling her about how awesome Patchogue was going to be, and that it would rise again with a new identity.
“[Pontieri] was saying how they were going to make Patchogue an arts center of town,” Marjanovich recalls. “That they were going to bring vibrant, thriving businesses, all of which they did. That they were going to develop housing in the village, so that young people who wanted to come and enjoy all theses amenities could live here.
“And I believed him. I just believed.”
But the long-downtrodden village was still far from revitalized.
To give an example, Pulse’s now-director of advertising, Lilien Perito, had traveled to Patchogue from Southampton for a sales job at the magazine in 2006.
Perito had a sense of uneasiness walking around Main Street.
“I was looking over my shoulder,” she says of that rainy day in March. “I was asking people where the office was and nobody knew what I was talking about and I was like, ‘It’s supposed to be right here.’”
A lot has changed since then.
“Now my friends are coming here all the time,” Perito says. “And I’m like, ‘You guys didn’t even know where this place was when I said I was working there.’”
While admitting having a magazine based in the village brings with it a certain amount of cachet, Marjanovich takes no credit for helping turn around Patchogue’s fortunes.
“I never thought about it that way,” she says. “I just wanted to be here and I felt lucky that I got to be part of a really exciting moment. If anything, I felt like I came here to benefit from the vibration that was happening. Because there was a palpable vibration in the streets, always.”
But every once in a while, Marjanovich will hear her name, or that of the magazine’s, ticked off along with other businesses that took a chance on Patchogue a decade or so ago, and that makes her feel good.
After 10 years, Pulse’s success here also allowed the company to open a second office in January — this time on Northern Boulevard in tony Roslyn.
“To me that personifies the yin and the yang of pulse,” Marjanovich laughs. “The high and polished end, and then the other end.
“The one that’s going to drop an F-bomb and go to an art show.”
Photo 1: Pulse’s premier issue from 2005 alongside last month’s 10th anniversary edition. (Michael White)