Open main menu

Cowles Media Company (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
Holding company
IndustryMass media
Founded1935; 84 years ago (1935)
FounderJohn Cowles Sr. and Gardner "Mike" Cowles, Jr.
Defunct1998; 21 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 Minneapolis Star competitor the Minneapolis Evening Journal, merging the Star and the Journal into the Star-Journal. The following year the company bought the Minneapolis Tribune and merged it with their company, giving it ownership of the city's major newspapers. The Tribune became the city's morning newspaper, the Star-Journal (renamed 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]

Cowles Media also published Look magazine from 1937 to 1971 under the names Look, Inc. (1937–1945), Cowles Magazines (1946–1965), and Cowles Communications, Inc. (1965–1971).[4] Cowles purchased Family Circle in 1962, and sold it to The New York Times Company in 1972. 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.[5]

The McClatchy Company purchased Cowles Media in 1998.[6] 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.[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 Ceased publication
Star-Tribune Minneapolis, Minnesota 1935–1998 Acquired by The McClatchy Company
Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, New York August 1979–September 19, 1982 Ceased publication
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

List of specialty magazinesEdit

Healthy lifestylesEdit


  • Doll Reader[8]
  • Figurines & Collectibles[8]
  • Nautical World[8] (formerly Nautical Collector)
  • Teddy Bear and Friends[8]

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 Tribune Broadcasting
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 3 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 Tribune Broadcasting
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.
  • 3 From 1962 to 1983, Cowles also owned four semi-satellites of KTVH in western and central Kansas--KTVC in Dodge City (now KBSD-DT), KAYS-TV in Hays (now KBSH-DT) and KLOE-TV in Goodland (now KBSL-DT).


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. ^ "Look Magazine Photograph Collection, Background and Scope". Library of Congress. 9 May 2005. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
  5. ^ Strentz, Herb. "John Cowles," Cowles Family Publishing Legacy: Drake University, Cowles Library. Accessed Jan. 3, 2018.
  6. ^ "Media profiles". Archived from the original on 2007-08-30. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
  7. ^ "McCLATCHY FINDS NEW HOMES FOR COWLES DIVISIONS". NewsInc. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ - Women's History, archived 1998 January 19. Retrieved September 30, 2018.