Cowles Media Company

Cowles Media Company (/klz/ KOHLZ) (1935–1998) was a newspaper, magazine and information publishing company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States. The company operated Cowles Business Media, Cowles Creative Publishing, and Cowles Enthusiast Media units.

Cowles Media Company
TypeHolding company
IndustryMass media
Founded1935; 88 years ago (1935)
FounderJohn Cowles Sr. and Gardner "Mike" Cowles Jr.
Defunct1998; 25 years ago (1998)
Area served
United States
Key people
Gardner Cowles Sr., Gardner "Mike" Cowles Jr., John Cowles Jr., Kingsley H. Murphy Jr.
ProductsNewspaper, magazines, television stations
  • Look, Inc. (1937–1945)
  • Cowles Magazines (1946–1965)
  • Cowles Communications, Inc. (1965–1971)
DivisionsCowles Business Media
Cowles Creative Publishing
Cowles Enthusiast Media

Owners of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune from 1935 to 1998[citation needed], other newspapers owned at one time by Cowles Media and its affiliates included the Des Moines Register, the Buffalo Courier-Express, the Scottsdale Progress and the Rapid City Journal. The company also owned the Register and Tribune Syndicate (established in 1922).


The Cowles Media Company was formed in 1935 when the Cowles family purchased the Minneapolis Star — the family and its patriarch Gardner Cowles Sr. previously owned the Des Moines Register. At that point Gardner Cowles Sr. handed control of the family's media business to his sons John Cowles Sr. and Gardner "Mike" Cowles Jr.[1] In 1939, the company purchased the Star' main competitor, the Minneapolis Evening Journal, merging them into the Star-Journal. The following year, the company bought the Minneapolis Tribune, giving it ownership of the major newspapers on the western side of the Twin Cities. The Tribune became Minneapolis' morning newspaper, the Star-Journal (shortened to the Star in 1947) was the evening newspaper, and they published a joint Sunday edition. A separate evening newspaper (the Times) was spun off, which published until 1948.[2][3]

They published Harper's Magazine from 1965 to 1980.

In 1955, Cowles entered television as majority owner of what is now KCCI in Des Moines, Iowa. Cowles became the station's sole owner shortly after its launch. Over the years, Cowles acquired several television stations in medium-sized markets. These stations were sold off by the mid-1980s.

In 1986, Cowles sold the Register and Tribune Syndicate to Hearst Communications for $4.3 million.[4]

The McClatchy Company purchased Cowles Media in 1998.[5] McClatchy kept the Star Tribune newspaper, which by then was the primary asset in the $1.4 billion deal, and sold the other business units to Primedia and to a management team.[6]

As of September 1971 Cowles Media's leader was John Cowles Jr. Look magazine (1937-1971) was published by an unrelated company[7] known as Look, Inc. (1937–1945), Cowles Magazines (1946–1965), and Cowles Communications, Inc. (1965–1971),[8] run by Gardner Cowles Jr., John Jr.'s uncle. From 1969 to 1971 Cowles Communications sold Family Circle and other publications, retaining five broadcasting stations, a travel magazine, and a marketing service.[7]

Newspapers owned by the Cowles Media CompanyEdit

Name City Years owned Fate
Des Moines Register Des Moines, Iowa 1903–1985 Acquired by the Gannett Company
Des Moines Tribune Des Moines, Iowa 1908–September 25, 1982 Subsumed into the Des Moines Register
Star-Tribune Minneapolis, Minnesota 1935–1998 Acquired by The McClatchy Company
Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, New York August 1979–September 19, 1982 Ceased publication, sale to News Corporation rejected by union
Scottsdale Progress Scottsdale, Arizona 1987–1993 Acquired by Cox Newspapers
Rapid City Journal Rapid City, South Dakota TK–1989 Acquired by Lee Enterprises
Great Falls Tribune Great Falls, Montana Acquired by Gannett Company
South Idaho Press Burley, Idaho Merged with the Times-News

List of specialty magazinesEdit

Healthy lifestylesEdit


  • Doll Reader[9]
  • Figurines & Collectibles[9]
  • Nautical World[9] (formerly Nautical Collector)
  • Teddy Bear and Friends[9]

History magazinesEdit

Eight of the history magazines subsequently published by Weider History Group starting around 2006.



Television stations owned by the Cowles Media CompanyEdit

City of License / Market Station Channel
Years owned Current ownership status
Daytona Beach / Orlando WESH-TV 2 (11) 1965–1985 NBC affiliate owned by Hearst Television
Honolulu KHON-TV 1 2 (8) 1979–1985 Fox affiliate owned by Nexstar Media Group
Moline / Rock Island / Davenport WQAD-TV 8 (38) 1978–1985 ABC affiliate owned by Tegna Inc.
Louisville, Kentucky WDRB 41 (49) 1977–1983 Fox affiliate owned by Block Communications
Des Moines KRNT-TV/KCCI 8 (8) 1955–1985 2 CBS affiliate owned by Hearst Television
Wichita / Hutchinson Plus KTVH 12 (19) 1955–1983 CBS affiliate, KWCH-DT, owned by Gray Television
Memphis WREC-TV 3 (28) 1962–1971 CBS affiliate, WREG-TV, owned by Nexstar Media Group
Huntington/Charleston, West Virginia WHTN-TV 13 (13) 1956–1960 CBS affiliate, WOWK-TV, owned by Nexstar Media Group


  • 1 Cowles also owned KHON-TV's satellite in Wailuku, KAII-TV. Another KHON-TV satellite, KHAW-TV in Hilo, was owned by a third party but leased to Cowles. The Hawaii stations were NBC affiliates under Cowles.
  • 2 Cowles owned a majority share of this station when it first signed on and became its sole owner shortly thereafter.


See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ "Gardner Cowles Sr." The Annals of Iowa #28 (1946), 75-76.
  2. ^ Morison, Bradley (1966). Sunlight on Your Doorstep: The Minneapolis Tribune's First Hundred Years. Minneapolis: Ross & Haines.
  3. ^ "Timeline: A Look at History of Star Tribune". Star Tribune.
  4. ^ Strentz, Herb. "John Cowles," Cowles Family Publishing Legacy: Drake University, Cowles Library. Accessed Jan. 3, 2018.
  5. ^ "Media profiles". Archived from the original on 2007-08-30. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
  6. ^ "McCLATCHY FINDS NEW HOMES FOR COWLES DIVISIONS". NewsInc. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  7. ^ a b "Cowles Closing Look Magazine After 34 Years". The New York Times. 1971-09-17. p. 1. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  8. ^ "Look Magazine Photograph Collection, Background and Scope". Library of Congress. 9 May 2005. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Cowles Enthusiast Media Magazines archived 1998 January 19. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  10. ^ - Women's History, archived 1998 January 19. Retrieved September 30, 2018.