Karen and Tom Klaber started what is now known as The East Bay Monthly in their home 35 years ago.
After three-and-a-half years they moved to an office at Seventh and Parker streets and then moved to their current office in Emeryville. Tom wrote all the copy and Karen was the salesperson, bookkeeper and business manager.
It began as The Telegraph Monthly, filled with shopping advertisements for Telegraph Avenue merchants. They soon got bored with the all-advertisement format and added articles.
For years, Fred Cody, founder of Cody’s Books, wrote a column called “The Book Bag,” which included exposés of milk, meat and sugar diets.
As the publication’s range expanded, they changed the name to The Berkeley Monthly. Tom Klaber left the magazine in 1981, and the Klabers are now divorced, though still friends.
Karen, a painter by training, said she wanted the cover always to feature art work. She still chooses the covers.
“We wanted to give the public something intelligent,” Klaber said. “We’ve always wanted to have a balance of commerce and culture.”
Another mission of the magazine was to celebrate local businesses.
“In every issue we had an ad: support your local merchants,” she said. “There was nobody else that made merchants look good.”
Although the circulation is still strong at 81,000, the magazine has felt the pinch of the shrinking economy and increased competition.
“In a tough economy, which we’ve experienced since the dot-com bomb, the magazine has gotten skinnier,” Klaber said. “I’ve had to roll up my sleeves and get involved in selling advertising.”
Klaber said she hopes to expand the magazine. She is looking for an investor or partner to increase the scope of the publication.
To celebrate their milestone, the magazine is throwing a 35th anniversary party for friends, advertisers, writers, and editors.
“We have advertisers who’ve been with us 30-plus years—in every single issue,” Klaber said.