Shepherd Express

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Shepherd Express150 logo.png
The May 31, 2007 front page of the
Shepherd Express
Type Alternative weekly
Format Tabloid
Owner(s) Louis Fortis
Publisher Louis Fortis
Editor Louis Fortis
Founded 1982
Headquarters 207 E. Buffalo Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
 United States
Circulation 64,665[1]

The Shepherd Express is an alternative weekly newspaper published in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


The paper originated in May 1982 as the Crazy Shepherd, its name derived from a line in Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Footnotes to Howl” (”Holy the crazy shepherds of rebellion”). Its founders were a group of University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee students, among them Jeff Hansen, Doug Hissom and Joe Porubcan, who operated it from a series of rented flats near the campus. After appearing sporadically, the Crazy Shepherd eventually settled into a monthly schedule. Several of its founders went on to careers in the news media, including Jim McCarter, publisher of the Metro Times in Detroit; Bill Conroy, editor of the San Antonio Business Journal; and Bill Lueders, news editor at Isthmus in Madison.

Other key co-founders include Jack Gladden, who helped find the money to publish the first edition of the paper; Karen Gerrity and Kurt Buss, who helped to write and edited the early editions; and Jeff Worman, the paper's art director, who penned the popular science-fiction Hourly Why column as well produced the Zeal at Zero cartoons along with illustrations and spoofs.

In 1987 the Shepherd Express was formed in a merger with the Express, a monthly music paper founded in 1979 by Kevn Kinney and David Luhrssen. Kinney went on to form the rock band Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ in Atlanta. Luhrssen returned to the Shepherd Express in late 1994 as arts and entertainment editor, a position he still holds.

During the late 1980s to mid 1990s, its publisher was Martin R. "Marty" Genz and the Genz family were the newspaper's majority stockholders. In 1992, Dane Claussen became the Shepherd Express's Associate Publisher & Advertising Director. In 1994, employees, among them Hansen, Porubcan, Marketing Director, Mary Henschel and editors, Hissom, Scott Kerr, Anthe Rhodes and Julie Wichman, arranged for an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), which resulted in Genz and Claussen leaving the newspaper and the Genz family selling its ownership stake; within the next few years, several other long-time employees also had left. The paper was known from 1999-2000 as Shepherd Express Metro, after absorbing a short-lived weekly called the Metro.

In January 2008 the Shepherd Express re-launched a new website titled Express Milwaukee. The new site is not merely a republishing of content that first appears in the print edition of the Shepherd Express. It is updated daily and has a collection of stories from staff and contributing bloggers, and writers from throughout the community. Express Milwaukee places a premium on content generated by readers. This content sits alongside Shepherd Express and Express Milwaukee content. With more than 70,000 (Summer 2013; Google Site Analytics) local readers per month it is among the largest sites with a local online audience in Milwaukee.

The Shepherd Express remains one of America’s few locally owned alternative newsweeklies. It has been published since 1997 by Louis Fortis, a Ph.D. economist and former member of the Wisconsin State Assembly. Fortis assumed the role of editor in 2000.


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