PRINCETON: Joe Eisele named to lead Packet Media

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Joe Eisele

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Joe Eisele, whose career in media began in advertising, last month became the publisher of Princeton Media LLC, the parent company of The Princeton Packet.
Mr. Eisele continues as the publisher of the Sun Newspapers, which publishes weekly newspapers in south and central New Jersey, including the Princeton Sun.
Mr. Eisele takes over the role that was long held by James. B. Kilgore, whose father, the late Barney Kilgore, had acquired The Packet in 1955 and subsequently added other weekly newspapers in Central Jersey.
The Packet, along with its sister publications the Hopewell Valley News, Hillsborough Beacon, Windsor-Hights Herald and Cranbury Press, and the company’s website, centraljersey.com, was merged at the end of March with Broad Street Media, located in Cherry Hill. Mr, Kilgore retains a 25 percent interest in Packet Media.
Mr. Kilgore had retained the title of publisher, but that arrangement ended when Perry Corsetti of Broad Street Media took on the job briefly before Mr. Eisele, a former Packet employee who worked twice for the company in 1998 and again in 2010, was named to the position in September by Broad Street.
In a phone interview, Mr. Eisele touched on a career spent initially in advertising but later saw him become the publisher of Elauwit Media. Elauwit, Packet Media, Greater Media Newspapers and Broad Street Media are now owned by Richard Donnelly, who owns Pennsauken-based Donnelly Distribution, also, along with Broad Street’s newspapers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Mr. Eisele, 42, of Burlington County, attended Holy Cross High School and later Rowan College. In school, he helped start the college radio station. Working in radio set him on the path toward advertising sales as a career, this for someone who said he had thought he wanted to be a writer or broadcaster.
His first job out of college was with the Trentonian newspaper, in January 1996. After nearly three years, he took a job in advertising with The Packet, the first of two stints with the company, for a year before moving on to Primedia and Elauwit Media.
Working in advertising, he said, enabled him to help businesses find solutions to their marketing needs. He recalled that the highest compliment he had received came about 10 years ago from a client who expressed trust in Mr. Eisele. When Mr. Eisele asked why, the client responded, “ ‘You spend my money like it’s yours.’ ”
Now as a publisher, he said he finds that he is “more passionate about local content and being relevant in our community than ad sales.” He said that without a paper having unique content, and having an emotional connection to their readers, the advertising department is “doomed.”
As for his vision for The Packet, he talked of wanting to gain readers in the communities where The Packet has sister publications, including Hillsborough and Cranbury, and becoming “relevant again” in Lawrence. The Lawrence Ledger was a weekly paper that the Packet had in that Mercer County town, but it was shuttered as part of a consolidation of papers.
In surveying the media landscape, he finds that “relevant journalism matters again” and is heartened that The New York Times last year exceeded more than one million digital subscribers. He said there are no immediate plans for The Packet website, www.centraljersey.com, to go to a paid system for readers to get content.
Of his message to the communities that The Packet and its other papers serve, he said: “We’re here for you, we need to be a reflection of your community and we need feedback on what kind of job we’re doing.”
As for Mr. Kilgore, who first worked as a reporter in Yonkers, N.Y., and later took the helm of the family-owned company that he grew to 13 newspapers, he plans to act as a consultant to Packet Media and its sister publications in the now-expanded business enterprise.
Mr. Kilgore said his love of the business was based on the community service that a community publication provides.
“Newspaper publishing in whatever format, print or digital, is a business. But it is also a community service endeavor,” he said.
Mr. Kilgore, 68, says he never plans to retire and has a number of business and community service interests which he plan to pursue.
“But my true love is community publishing. That ink will always flow in my veins,” he said
In addition to merging The Packet with Broad Street Media, Mr. Kilgore sold the company’s headquarters buildings — including the main office at 300 Witherspoon St. — to Helena L. May in a deal finalized Sept. 30. The newspaper intends to remain in Princeton, in another office on Witherspoon Street, although non-editorial staff is expected to relocate to Manalapan. 