MSP Communications President Gary Johnson Receives Top Publishing Award

Honored with the RR Donnelley Milton W. Jones Lifetime Achievement Award from the City and Regional Magazine Association at Conference in Denver, CO 

Los Angeles, CA (May 23, 2016) – Gary Johnson, President of MSP Communications, received the RR Donnelley Milton W. Jones Lifetime Achievement Award from the City and Regional Magazine Association (CRMA) during an Awards Banquet at the organization’s three-day Annual Conference in Denver, CO, on Monday, May 23, 2016.

This is the Association’s top honor – sponsored by long-time partner, RR Donnelley. In 2014, the award’s name was changed to recognize the profound and lasting contributions of industry pioneer, Milton W. Jones, who passed away in the spring of 2014. Jones was a long-time publisher and former Lifetime Achievement Award recipient himself.

Since its inception in 1978, the CRMA has recognized leading members of the industry by giving them the Lifetime Achievement Award. This honor is given occasionally – not annually. The recipient is chosen from nominations submitted by members of the association. The honor recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the magazine publishing industry. The recipient is announced and celebrated at the Awards Ceremony at CRMA’s Annual Conference.

Gary Johnson came to MSP Communications in 1978, where he built, with Burt Cohen and Brian Anderson, the lasting franchise in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul we know today as MSP Communications. Along the way MSP has transformed into a multi-faceted publisher of leading lifestyle, business and home magazines for the region with web development and digital products for all of their properties. Their custom portfolio includes the inflight magazine for Delta Airlines and publications for brands such as McKesson, General Foods IBM, Dell, American Express and more. In addition to running MSP, Johnson is an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota, teaching a graduate course in Content Strategy and Brand Journalism.

John Palumbo, longtime CRMA board member and publisher of Rhode Island Monthly announced the decision to present the award to Johnson. “Gary has always been one of those pioneers who mentored, encouraged and led the way in our industry,” Palumbo said. “In addition to building a revered brand and portfolio of publications for the Twin Cities, he has parlayed MSP’s custom publishing into a national presence. His colleagues recognize him for his work ethic, his unflappable focus on all the moving parts on a day-to-day basis, and his motivation and encouragement to the entire MSP team.”

A list of past Lifetime Achievement Award winners is posted here.


Gary Johnson is president of MSP Communications, publisher of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.

Gary joined then Mpls. magazine in 1977 after answering a classified ad in Advertising Age. Upon moving his young family to Minneapolis from Sioux Falls, SD, he discovered his new publisher/owner was not only broke but more than a little crazy. Fortunately Burt Cohen bought the magazine in 1978, and, using a second mortgage and Burt’s New York Times stock, partners Burt, editor Brian Anderson, and advertising director Gary proceeded to build a lasting franchise in Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. 

Along the way, MSP Communications became a multi-faceted publishing company, pioneering one of the first custom content companies in 1978. They introduced Mpls.St.Paul Home in 1988, Twin Cities Business in 1993, and a web development company in 1997, and began producing digital content for brands in 2000.

Gary has been a mentor to many in the publishing industry, and is a seeker and nurturer of talent. He sees and values the focused talents needed in all aspects of a successful publishing operation from revenue, circulation, production, marketing, and certainly editorial and design.

Thirty-nine years and 225 print and digital titles later, MSP Communications continues to publish the leading city and regional business magazines in the Twin Cities metro, the leading inflight magazine for Delta Air Lines, seven other magazines for corporations and associations, and digital content platforms for Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, 3M, McKesson, IBM, NetApps, Dell Computing, UnitedHealthcare, University of Phoenix, American Express, and others.

In addition to running MSP Communications, Gary is an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota, teaching a graduate course in Content Strategy and Brand Journalism. He and wife Stephanie enjoy doting on children Holly, Damon, and Theo, and grandchildren Thea, Tula, Connor, Beckham, and their brand-new little Avery. 

About CRMA

‚ÄčThe City and Regional Magazine Association (CRMA) represents more than 80 regional and local general interest and consumer lifestyle magazines throughout the United States and Canada. With a combined readership of twenty five million and five million subscribers, CRMA member titles represent a powerful media platform for reaching an affluent consumer audience. CRMA provides a broad array of services to its members, including industry advocacy, research and promotion to the advertising community, among others. For more information about CRMA and its member publications, visit

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