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Chicago Reader
Reader cover.jpg
Type Alternative weekly
Format Tabloid
Owner(s) Wrapports LLC
Founded 1971
Headquarters 350 North Orleans Street
Chicago, Illinois 60654
United States
Circulation 87,142 weekly in 2011
ISSN 1096-6919

The Chicago Reader is an American alternative weekly newspaper in Chicago, Illinois, noted for its literary style of journalism and coverage of the arts, particularly film and theater. It was founded by a group of friends from Carleton College.

Publication history

1971–1995

The Chicago Reader was founded by Robert A. Roth, who grew up in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights. His ambition was to start a weekly publication for young Chicagoans like Boston's The Phoenix and Boston After Dark. Those papers were sold on newsstands but were also given away, mostly on campuses, to bolster circulation. Roth believed that 100-percent free circulation would work better, and he persuaded several friends from Carleton College, including Robert E. McCamant, Thomas J. Rehwaldt and Thomas K. Yoder, to join him in his venture. They scraped together about $16,000 in capital and published the first issue, 16 pages, on October 1, 1971.

Content

The Reader was designed to serve young readers, mostly singles in their 20s, who in the early 1970s lived in distinct neighborhoods along Chicago’s lakefront: Hyde Park, Lincoln Park, Lake View, et al. Later this demographic group moved west, to neighborhoods like Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Logan Square, and the Reader moved with them. The paper’s appeal was based on a variety of elements. Most obvious early on was a focus on pop culture for a generation who were not served by the entertainment coverage of daily newspapers. Like many alternative weeklies, the Reader relied heavily on coverage and extensive listings of arts and cultural events, especially live music, film, and theater.

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