Today’s news:

Bronx Times founder and co-publisher John Collazzi retires

Bronx Times

Collazzi founded this paper in 1981 with Michael Benedetto, expanding it from a monthly to a bi-weekly paper within a few years, and to a weekly in 1989.

It was sold to the News Corporation in 2007, with Collazzi presiding over their circulation expansion as they were cross-marketed with the New York Post and Community Newspaper Group.

The paper’s new publisher will be longtime executive editor and operations manager Laura Guerriero, who has been with the Bronx Times Reporter for more than two decades.

Former longtime New York Daily News reporter and Bronx bureau chief Bob Kappstatter will be in charge of the day-to-day editorial operation as deputy editor.

Benedetto said that while the idea to start the paper Times Reporter originated with him, Collazzi was the visionary who quickly saw the paper’s potential.

“ I thought it would be a great idea for the community to have a paper to keep it informed, and I was heavily involved in politics and so was John at that time, and I thought it could benefit me personally,” said Benedetto. “John, however, realized right away ... that we should keep it above politics and just report on the news in the community, and like on so many of the early decisions, John was right.”

Benedetto said that when he left the paper in 1988 because he felt his election as a district leader would be a conflict of interest, he knew he was leaving the paper in good hands.

By the end of summer 1984, the masthead of the paper listed John Collazzi as both the editor and publisher.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca recalled that he had written a column for the paper shortly after it was founded, and that many community leaders pitched in to help write stories when it was a smaller operation.

“John was committed to a community newspaper, and if it wasn’t for the Bronx Times and for John, a lot of the successful community efforts would not have happened,” said Vacca.

Collazzi avoided crime stories that were flooding newspapers during the 1980s and focused more on people in the community who were making a difference. The paper was kept local, with editions serving Throggs Neck and then Morris Park and surrounding areas. Other parts of the Bronx were added with the launch of the Bronx Times 18 years ago.

Collazzi was also a founding member of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, where he now serves as a vice-president.

Joseph Kelleher, chairman of the chamber, called Collazzi an “elder statesman” of the board of directors with a vast knowledge of the borough.”

“Collazzi is someone who is fantastic consulting with about the Bronx because he knows the businesses, and understands the borough and its political sensitivities,” Kelleher said.

Longtime friend, NYPD Assistant Chief Edward Delatorre, said Collazzi “has an incredible sense of concern for the Bronx and the people that live in it - a very genuine concern about the people who live in the Bronx and the quality of life in general.”

Under Collazzi’s leadership, the successful launch of several new publications associated with the original Bronx Times Reporter and Bronx Times occurred as he continued on as publisher into the News Corporation-era of the paper.

Collazzi brought about the first editions of a Community Newspaper Group insert in the Sunday New York Post called Bronx Weekly, as well as BronxStats, 25 Bronx Influential Women, and numerous auto, medical, and elder care supplements and publications.

Collazzi has been on the board of directors of BronxNet public access television since it began broadcasting in 1993, said BronxNet executive director Michael Max Knobbe.

“He is a prime mover in terms of journalism and providing valuable information to the people of the Bronx, “ said Knobbe, “and has been a strong guiding force on the BronxNet board in terms of our expanding services and educational training programs, and our growth over the last two decades.”

Friends said they expect Collazzi, a former longtime member of Community Board 10, to continue his work volunteering and sitting on boards in the community.

“I know that John is retiring, but I cannot accept that,” said Kelleher. “He will always be my go-to guy.”

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group