One of the best descriptions “about us” was generated by Philadelphia’s University City District when it published a series of 20 stories about local businesses in celebration of their own 20th anniversary and included our media company as one of those stories. [Our story has been condensed and edited – See brackets.]
“Even if you don’t know Bob and Claudia Christian by name, we guarantee that if you live in University City, you’ve seen their work. Bob and Claudia are the husband and wife one-two punch behind the long-standing University City Review, the hyper-local paper that’s been delivering news to the neighborhood for nearly 30 years. Bob is the paper’s publisher and editor, and Claudia serves as the associate publisher, yet given the small size of their operation, they both handle much more.
Originally from New York City, Bob and Claudia arrived in University City with a young child in the late 70s. They chose the neighborhood, so Bob could do graduate work at the Reformed Episcopal Seminary, formerly at 43rd and Chestnut.
The University City Review debuted in 1988 as a true community paper focused on what was happening in and around University City, while a sister paper, the Philadelphia Free Press, covered news east of the Schuylkill River [In Center City Philadelphia].
“I used to worry about not having enough stories,” Bob remembers. “But that’s just impossible. There’s all kinds of things going on, all kinds of people. People wanted us to do the paper. They wanted to read about what was going on in the neighborhood: events, restaurants, crime. They wanted to read stories about people.”
The UC Review began as a monthly publication, then switched to every other week, and then settled into the weekly publication it is today. 15,000 copies of the UC Review are printed each week and distributed to homes and neighborhood spots like supermarkets or our own UCD office. [15,000 copies of the Philadelphia Free Press are similarly distributed in Center City.] Bob handled the editing and contributed pieces on occasion, while Claudia worked with community associations on their calendars and their meetings. She also collected crime stats from police districts and handled sales, sometimes with a new baby in a carrier.
A typical issue focuses on quieter community stories within their coverage area – progress on local parks, upcoming community events, restaurant openings. The paper also serves as an outlet for community opinions, with op-eds and articles written by neighbors. “We had, and we still have, a lot of people who are local who contribute to the paper, and that’s one of our most favorite things,” Bob says.
But every once in a while, the paper has made big waves in the community through a story they’ve published. Bob seems to revel in stirring things up, in being an instigator, and in spurring neighborhood action through his paper.
I’m in trouble a lot,” he says, and there’s a mischievous glint in his eye when he recalls the rival editors, lawyers, and neighborhood big wigs who have read him the riot act over stories he’s published. He seems to love being the fly in the ointment, or the David to the community Goliaths. When this is proposed to him, he points to a plaque on the wall that reads: “Fighting bad guys is only part of the wonderful world of the good guys.”
“If you are responsible, you can have an impact, and you can do something that’s really valuable to the neighborhood.”
Since the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic the University City Review and the Philadelphia Free Press have maintained their weekly publication schedule, as well as, expanded their digital readership audience through weekly, targeted E-mail digital editions which reach over 37,000 recipients.