Victoria’s Secrets: 39 years and counting…

The first edition of the Queens Courier went to press May 9, 1985.

It’s hard to believe that last week — May 9, to be exact — was the 39th anniversary of the launch of the Queens Courier, my first newspaper, from my living room. Fast forward to today, and we now have almost 100 media outlets! We’ve come a long way, baby!

And I say “we” because our growth as a media company is due to the great people around me.

It all started when I met John Toscano, a veteran newsman who had taken a buyout from the Daily News after decades as their political reporter/editor. We met while I was working for State Sen. Leonard Stavisky as his Community Liaison representative.

John had started a community newspaper in Astoria named The Gazette. He lived in Middle Village and I lived in Bayside, Queens.

I had dreamt of being in the media after witnessing the power of the press since the ‘70s and Geraldo Rivera’s Emmy Award-winning exposé of the infamous conditions at Willowbrook on Staten Island, where my daughter Lara was in the baby building’s rehabilitation center.

Geraldo’s coverage helped put the spotlight on our cause and when we won our class action lawsuit, Willowbrook was closed down and group homes were funded for the first time — a seismic game-changer for the care of people with special needs.

Three children later, when I met John I shared with him my belief that with the change in the co-op laws and with all the rental buildings in my community of Bayside going co-op, owners of both homes and apartments would have a vested interest in their community and would want to read a community newspaper about them and their neighborhood. 

So John asked, “Do you think you can sell some ads?” and I said I’d ask my realtor who sold me my house, my hairdresser, my jeweler and my parents — and it worked! Christie & Co Salon and Alicia’s Jewelers are still advertising with us!

When we discussed naming the paper, I told him I grew up in Brooklyn with the Kings Courier, an enormously successful community newspaper in my neighborhood. So we became the Queens Courier!

We each worked from home, writing every story and taking every photo, and his son delivering every paper. 

To design our paper, we went to a typesetter in Flushing and for our first edition, it must have been midnight when we finally finished and began the journey to the press printer in Long Island City.

John and I carefully carried our precious boards into the press room and anxiously awaited the first run. After about an hour, the pressmen brought me the first copy of our first issue and, to my horror, the newborn baby photo on the front page was a black blob! I screamed, “Stop the presses!” And they did!

Fortunately, John had the original photo in his car and he went back and got it. They re-shot the page and then created a new plate that was then placed on the presses and, about an hour later, they brought me the new run. It was perfect and I said, “It’s a run!”

And so we began!

John and I remained partners for a few years and taught me everything I know about journalism and the news business. I bought him out and he went back to The Gazette and I hired another retired newsman, Bernie Rabin, and the tradition began of my having professionals run my newsroom.

Twelve years into the news business, my team and I had created 12 media outlets, including a Spanish language newspaper for the growing Spanish community in Queens.

My son Josh, then an investment banker, called me one night and said, “Mom, if I’m going to work 24/7, can I work for you?” Hearing those words is every mother’s dream! And, as they say, the rest is history!

Josh has taken us into the 21st century with a focus on digital and social media, as well as multimedia reporting with video and broadcasting news coverage and helping expand the company through acquisitions. 

This week, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of our Power Women events with a party at Gracie Mansion, led by Mayor Eric Adams and benefiting the Gracie Mansion Conservancy.

What fun!

We have honored a thousand women and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for causes in the community at each of our “Ultimate Networking Events.” This one will help to preserve Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s home.

Here’s to the great years ahead of quality journalism and marketing. This year, our peers voted us the #1 Media Company in New York State. We will continue to be “All About You!” 

Stay tuned!

Love to you, my dear readers. 


Abundant talent at SUNY FIT


Under the leadership of the talented Dr. Joyce F. Brown, SUNY’s Fashion Institute of Technology has flourished and last week was their annual gala in which they honored legendary members of the fashion industry, including Kenneth Cole (designer), Rebecca Hessel Cohen (founder of LoveShackFancy) and iconic designer Norma Kamali.

Dr. Joyce F. Brown & her husband Carl McCall
With Norma Kamali
With Jean Shafiroff

Spectacular student designs were seen in the runway show before the awards ceremony. Here are some of their creations.