UPDATED 4:31pm with comments from Aaron Yarmuth.
On the first day of local ownership in years, LEO Weekly has fired several employees.
Staff writer April Corbin tweeted that she was let go this afternoon, along with editor Sara Havens. Havens also writes the popular Bar Belle column, and today was her 15th anniversary working for the alt-weekly.
Today was the publication’s first day under new ownership. Aaron Yarmuth—son of Congressman and LEO founder John Yarmuth—announced his plans to buy LEO from SouthComm Communications in April. Yarmuth confirmed the layoffs Friday afternoon; besides Havens and Corbin, two members of the advertising staff were also let go.
“We couldn’t afford multiple editors for our size publication,” Yarmuth said. “It was not based on anybody’s performance.”
Yarmuth wasn’t present for the firings, saying it wasn’t appropriate for him to be in LEO’s offices until the sale went through, which happened around 4p.m. Yarmuth plans to act at LEO’s editor, working without any compensation, and is considering taking his father’s former title: executive editor. Dave Brennan will remain publisher.
Yarmuth says these layoffs reduce LEO’s editorial staff to two: staff writer Joe Sonka and music and culture editor Peter Berkowitz. The publication also relies heavily on freelance writers, and Yarmuth says they’ll rely even more heavily on freelancers in the future. “We have expressed to April and Sara that we will have a freelance opportunity, that once we settle in, we’ll be interested in exploring their interest and any possibilities to continue working together.”
The deal also involves splitting off NFocus from LEO; the magazine will remain part of SouthComm.
“It is a tough day, but, as cliché as it is, it’s a bittersweet day for everybody,” Yarmuth said. “But I really could not be happier to be a part of a Louisville institution, particularly one with such strong family ties. And I really do believe there’s a lot of fun in store.” He added he plans to maintain the integrity of the publication.