John B. Evans, the publisher of The Village Voice from 1983 to 1985, died March 28 at his home in Annandale, New Jersey, at age 66. Born in Wales and educated at Cambridge University, Evans brought an innovative, cosmopolitan spirit to his work at the Voice, and moved swiftly through its ranks. He began his career here as a classified-ad account executive and was named the director of that department in 1977. David Schneiderman, the CEO of Village Voice Media, and the paper’s editor during part of Evans’s period here, credits Evans as the first to introduce computers to the Voice offices, wiring classified long before the editorial department was hooked up. “That was a critical contribution and had a huge impact on the business of the paper,” Schneiderman says. When Rupert Murdoch bought the Voice in 1977, Evans joined Murdoch’s News Corporation, remaining the driving force of the classified department until he became the paper’s publisher.
Although he relinquished that position in 1985, he remained involved with the Voice as the executive vice president of Murdoch Magazines, which, in addition to the paper, owned The Star and New Woman and, later, Elle, Seventeen, Mirabella, and TV Guide. Evans had moved up to become president of the Murdoch Magazines group before the entire unit was sold in 1990 and he went to England to take over the business operations at Murdoch’s British newspapers. Returning to the States in 1992, he remained involved with Murdoch’s News Corporation as a pioneer in Internet publishing, bringing his newspapers online as well as developing electronic travel sites.
Evans is remembered fondly at the Voice as a great storyteller and a worldly but unpretentious guy, as well as an engaged and intelligent publisher. Evans is responsible for developing a Voice employment program with Fountain House, an organization dedicated to psychiatric rehabilitation. A professional yachtsman before getting into advertising, he lived on a sailboat during much of his tenure here. “His great enthusiasms were sailing and technology,” Schneiderman says. “And for a business guy, he had a tremendous passion for the paper—he really got it. He knew what the Voice was about.”