UpFront: May 2014

Welcome back

For the magazine's new editor, it's déjà vu all over again.

Not long after I hired Dave Mildenberg the first time, I got fired. That was 29 years ago at Fortune Media Inc., which has been out of business nearly that long but back then published Charlotte magazine and a couple of business periodicals. His coming — he had been a business reporter for The Charlotte Observer — had nothing to do with my going. The publisher and I butted heads over what I considered an ethical issue, so I quit, was persuaded to return, then canned.

Five years later, I hired Dave again. By then, I was editor and publisher of this magazine and he the business editor of the Greensboro News & Record. After four years as BNC’s managing editor and then executive editor, he realized he missed the adrenaline rush of daily newspapers and returned to the Observer as its assistant business editor. That was 20 years ago.

After the Observer, he spent nine years, broken by a year teaching math to seventh-graders in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, with American City Business Journals. He was a reporter for its Charlotte weekly, editor of the Raleigh one and on the corporate staff back in the Queen City developing a Web strategy for ACBJ’s 40-plus papers nationwide. Dave then worked seven years for New York-based Bloomberg News, one in Atlanta covering transportation, three in Charlotte reporting on finance and three in Austin on the news service’s municipalities/states team. Now he has returned from Texas to be our new editor.

“No other place felt like home,” he says, “not surprising given my previous tenure in North Carolina. I missed friends and relationships I made working in our state’s three major metro areas. And I wanted to work for Business North Carolina again because it offers an opportunity to produce insightful journalism about key people, institutions and trends. BNC has staked out a niche as an irreverent, valued publication with a passion for explaining what makes the state tick. It highlights the best and worst of our state without bias or pretense.

“I feel lucky to be part of a three-decade-old institution that has employed a string of talented people and published work by some of this state’s best writers. Glossy magazines that do not pander are increasingly rare in the digital age. I hope I can use my experience, here and out of state, to help make this one even more distinctive and valuable to our readers and advertisers.”

Like many modern Tar Heels, Dave, 54, was not born here, though he’s quick to point out that his wife, Janet, grew up in Charlotte. A native of Minnesota, he earned a bachelor’s in journalism from Northwestern University in suburban Chicago and has an MBA from UNC Charlotte — which he finished during his last gig at BNC. “My goal,” he says, “is to help a great staff make this magazine thrive because the state deserves diverse and independent editorial voices. And a locally owned, private business is about as independent as one gets with the media increasingly dominated by large companies based outside North Carolina.” 

kinney@businessnc.com