A Short History of Whole Life Times

Through natural disasters, location changes, and a succession of owners in recent years, this community publication has continued to serve as a nexus point for innovative thought in the Los Angeles community. 

The oldest known issue of Whole Life Times was published in 1979 by Josef Cottler, who founded both Whole Life Times and the Whole Life Expo. At that time the magazine was a national, bi-monthly publication, tabloid size on newsprint. The entire contents were typed on typewriters, then cut and pasted (for some sections, line-by-line) onto boards that were sent to a lino shop to be set, and then photographed by the printer. The actual process of printing the magazine was like duplicating a photo negative many times over. 

In 1986, Paul Andrews and Art Kunkin, founder of the L.A. Free Press, purchased Whole Life Times and moved the office from Pacific Palisades to Santa Monica. The staff began using computers to input text, but paste-up and lino were still part of what often was a succession of all-nighters to get the magazine out on time. In 1989, the offices moved to Playa del Rey.  

Abigail Lewis came aboard as editor in 1990, and over the next 10 years acquired ownership of the magazine, while also serving as publisher and editor-in-chief. The office moved back to Santa Monica in 1992, and then to Malibu just a couple of months before the earthquake of ’93 caused the roof of the previous Santa Monica office to collapse. 

The next narrow escape was the devastating fire of 1993. The anxious staff loaded precious computers into their cars and took them to safe places, then watched TV reports showing the hillside behind WLT’s office ablaze. After news crews were forced to leave the site as the flames drew ever closer, it was several days before anyone knew if the building had survived. 

The earthquake of January 1994 did little damage, but floods that followed the previous year’s fire closed Pacific Coast Highway for months, forcing dedicated Westside staffers to drive over Topanga Canyon and Saddle Peak to get to their jobs every day. 

In 1999 the magazine was redesigned to a 10x12 format with a glossy cover, and in 2002 it was acquired by Dragonfly Media as part of a five-magazine chain. Dragonfly’s strong editorial focus soon won the loyalty of long-time readers, as integrative health and sustainability coverage continued, augmented by increased emphasis on social responsibility and progressive politics. 

Just three years later, Conscious Enlightenment Media took ownership of four of the five Dragonfly publications and moved the office first to Sunset Boulevard, and then downtown. CE redesigned the magazine once again, and shifted the focus to green lifestyle and yoga. 

Gaiam acquired the chain of magazines over 2008-2009, and published its last issue for April 2009, at which time all offices were shuttered. 

Now, like the phoenix rising out of the ashes, the spirit of Whole Life Times is rising once again to serve the Los Angeles community.  

Thank you for joining us. We look forward to serving you for many years to come.


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