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What's Up Magazine

What’s Up? Media Celebrates 20 Years

May 26, 2017 01:44PM ● By Cate Reynolds

We take a look at those who started it all, our staff, the company timeline, and snapshots of our favorite publishing moments, parties, people, and dynamic events that have shaped our communities. Celebrate our 20 years with us on June 15th at Loews Annapolis Hotel!


From the Publisher

Does anyone really know why they do something? People often ask me where I got the idea to start a magazine and I have thought about this question. My previous careers included: being the 
  irst female stock broker in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1966; raising two daughters; starting a plant store in Brooklyn, New York, called “Growing Things;” working within Jimmy Carter’s White House as a “special assistant to the special assistant to the president;” and returning to my financial background by becoming an investment broker and banker. As an investment banker, I came to know, and fell in love with, the Chesapeake region as I raised the money and partnered in a 360-acre development in Chesapeake Beach. I had sailed in lakes in my home state of New Hampshire since childhood, but had never experienced something like the Chesapeake Bay. I bought a sail boat and commuted on weekends to Annapolis. During this time, my interest for the Chesapeake, its history, and the charm of surrounding towns only grew.

In 1990, I left Chevy Chase, Maryland, and moved to Edgewater (outside Annapolis) forever. I thought I would be happily retired, but soon found that I missed my connections to people who knew me and knew what kind of person I am. I had no reputation here. Am I a person who can be counted on, or am I a goof-off? I was surprised by how much I regretted not being “known.”

What I knew about myself was that I enjoyed doing things that helped people. I enjoy solving problems and being creative. I was very idealistic and believed I could accomplish whatever I was ready to work hard at. I also believed, and still do, that when people are brought together through events, sports, philanthropic efforts—or almost any sort of community happening—they learn about how to value each other. I believe that communities are strengthened by putting people together with a call to create something, whether an event or a new hospital. I thought that if I could create a publication that told people about what was happening in their environment I could help strengthen my community. And that is why I woke up one morning knowing that I would start a magazine called What’s Up?

During the years, it has grown from one magazine to six publications and we also host our own special events, some pictured on page 30. In the beginning, we had many funny stories because we didn’t really know how to do large events. I remember, vividly, the first time we hosted a Most Eligible Singles event at Loews Annapolis Hotel. We knew that tickets were selling nicely but didn’t understand how many people actually decide to come at the last minute. Then-Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer was coming to the event as my guest and couldn’t get her car out of the parking garage off Main Street. She called the police department to find out what was going on. They tracked down the grid lock that was blocking all entrances into and out of Downtown Annapolis to the Most Eligible Singles event! I was called to explain to the police and all I could do was laugh! I had to promise the police that I wouldn’t allow any more people in because we would be over the fire code, but all ended well; the police started directing traffic and the Mayor found her way to our event.

This year, we started a new division selling tickets for our events, as well as other local organizations, called “What’s Up? Tix.” With our great new “What’s Up? Tix” software, we shouldn’t have any more experiences like causing city wide gridlock again!

Finally, I want to thank all of my 40-plus employees now and the many who’ve helped What’s Up? Media thrive over the years, and all of our readers who have made our publications possible and such a wonderful experience. Many, many of you have become friends and I appreciate you all.


What’s Up? Visionaries & Salutes

The creatives who founded and have shaped our publications

By James Houck

Veronica Tovey

Publisher & President

What’s Up? Media was founded by Veronica Tovey in 1997, but her publishing story begins years earlier. Falling in love with Annapolis and completing her move to the region in 1990, the former fiduciary and always entrepreneur found herself in new environs that piqued her curiosity and beckoned her creativity…and she needed help navigating it all, literally. Save for a Rand McNally road atlas, Veronica couldn’t find an easy-to-read map of Downtown Annapolis and so she launched a company in her home’s basement to produce a colorful map of the city, complete with interesting anecdotes, factoids, and advertiser support. Six years later, the publishing bug bit again and she dreamt up What’s Up? Magazine under the banner slogan “All the Entertainment and Sports.” It was a dream come true and when asked about how she developed the business plan to make it all work, Tovey confides she was non-traditional. She didn’t belabor the financial minutiae, she just knew it would work with persistence and keeping it fun. Twenty years later, she’s still very much enjoying the ride.

Lulu & Callie

What’s Up?’s Best Friends

What’s Up? Media has always been a dog-friendly company and during our first 10 years, if you paid a visit to our office, chances are that you were greeted by the friendly tail-wag and curiosity of Callie, our publisher’s faithful English Setter. Callie was an old salt with a lover’s heart and when she passed on to doggy heaven in 2011, her presence left a void. It would be Lulu, a Shitzu, to the rescue a couple of years later and ever since, arresting the office with her cuddliness and energetic spunk day in, day out.

Carol Denny

Original Editor

As our flagship publication’s first Editor—a role she maintained for eight years—Denny mixed the creative formula that brought Annapolis and Anne Arundel County a publication focused on the region’s best entertainment, sports and activities, dining, and Chesapeake lifestyle interests

Linda Laing

Original Art Director

Starting in the basement office of What’s Up? with Tovey and Denny, Laing would serve as the publication’s lead designer for 10-plus years. She did it all; article layouts, advertisements, inserts, logos, letterhead, ancillary pubs, and much more.

James Houck

Editorial Director

Beginning as a part-time editorial assistant in 2001, Houck kept creating more work for himself to the point of earning promotions as the company’s Assistant Editor, Sports & Dining Editor, Managing Editor, and finally Editorial Director by 2011.

If he’s not brainstorming/planning our months and years ahead, he’s winning the Piney Cup Championship with his hockey team Battalion.

Ashley Raymond

Chief Operating Officer

Beginning as an administrative intern in 2002 by helping out several hours per week after the high school dismissal bell each day, Raymond (née Eutsler) progressed and grew with the company, eventually directing all advertising production before, ultimately, becoming the company’s COO.
If she wasn’t running daily office operations at What’s Up?, she’d be crabbing on the Severn with her daughter and grandfather.

Kathy Sauve

Account Executive

As one of the most headstrong, savvy, and personable employees of What’s Up? Media, Sauve (née Stanton) has fostered client and co-worker relationships for more than 11 years, as well as grown company sales consistently year-over-year.

When she’s not out developing more client relationships, she’s hiking and biking the trails!

Frances Ayres


With a heart of gold and jack-of-all-trades work ethic, Ayres has served as the company’s accounting arm, pocketbook, human resources go-to, and friend for the better part of a decade.

When she’s not taking care of all our financial needs, she’s at home gardening, watching a Western, or planning her next overseas vacay!

Nadja Maril


Maril directed the editorial ship during what was, arguably, the largest growth period for the publications in terms of content, projects, and new endeavors; 2005 to 2011. Her own regular column, “Antiques,” was treasured by many longtime readers.

Debbie Carta

Account Executive

For several years, Carta developed client relationships within the Annapolis market before breaking into uncharted waters and becoming the lead account executive for our West County publication. Altogether, she has been with the company for more than 10 years.

If she’s not out building her clients in the ever-growing West County region, she’s out hiking, traveling, and volunteering at the SPCA.

Joanna Baker & Melanie Quinn

Special Events Coordinators

The dynamic duo that brought imaginative event concepts to life, Baker (mid-2000s) and Quinn (2012–present) took the event production department to new heights by making each event—be it Best Of, Nutcracker Tea, or The LOOK—better than the last.

When they’re not planning our events, you can find them on the fields with their kids or visiting a local art exhibit.

August Schwartz

Art Director

Under the guidance of former Art Director Michael Nguyen, Schwartz developed into our go-to designer for unique editorial layouts, contemporary advertising design, and, upon becoming the department’s Director, a refreshed look for the entire publication.

When he’s not putting together our publications, he’s at the gym putting on some muscle!

Maggie Jarboe

Account Executive

As What’s Up? Media expanded across the Bay Bridge and began publishing our Eastern Shore magazine, we knew that a locals’ local would be the linchpin to our successful business and community development, and Jarboe fit the bill perfectly for almost the first full decade of the publication (she retired in 2016).

Tony Lewis, Jr.


Lewis was introduced to our publication nearly 10 years ago. We liked Tony; we liked Tony’s eye. He’s photographed nearly everything under the Maryland sun for our publications. From restaurants to weddings, and watermen to baseball diamonds, he’s captured it all.

Publishing Timeline

Notable events in the history of What’s Up? Media


What’s Up? Media is founded by Veronica Tovey and the company’s first publication is mailed in May


Where’s Wilma is introduced as a giveaway and future What’s Up? mascot


The company office grows from Publisher Veronica Tovey’s basement to its new home in the Mason Building at 929 West Street


Our magazine graduates from saddle stitch binding (that is, stapled at center) to a perfect bind (à la paperback), which was confirmation of our growth

The 2004 reader-voted Best of Annapolis contest is established, along with the largest awards party in town held in June


What’s Up? Annapolis celebrates its 10th anniversary and What’s Up? Eastern Shore is launched


Our biannual publication, What’s Up? Weddings, launches and personalizes the bridal experience with local and regional coverage and insights

On the heels of launching our What’s Up? Weddings publication, we organized a Bridal Expo that gave brides- and grooms-to-be, as well as their families, a first-look and meet-and-greet experience with several dozen regional vendors


What’s Up? West County is launched, delivering western Anne Arundel County its own magazine


Company moves from 929 West Street to the Power Technology Center at 201 Defense Highway


The LOOK, a new beauty and wellness section within our magazines, is launched; subsequently, we establish The LOOK Party, which quickly becomes one of our largest drawing events


What’s Up? Tix is born. A one-stop ticket shop for fundraisers, performances and special events in the Chesapeake region

Looking Back

A few of our favorite publishing moments, articles, endeavors, and achievements

Biennial Professional Peer Review Surveys, Results, and Parties

For more than 10 years, our Top Docs, Top Dentists, and Leading Lawyers lists have assisted readers in selecting professionals to guide their medical, dental, or legal needs. To celebrate the selected professionals, we organized networking parties to honor their participation and achievement.

Most Eligible Singles

(est. 2003)

One of the, shall we say, more interesting projects we’ve ever concocted began as an editorial showcase of locals looking for love (about 20 folks featured in print) and grew into an annual catchall event, held each November for several years, for casual, as well as, long-term cupid connections.


Philanthropy equals community vitality; What’s Up? Media annually donates upwards of $40,000 to various charitable organizations


Best Of

(est. 2004)

Our June 2004 issue unveiled what has, since, become an annual reader favorite. Everybody wants to know the restaurant with the best crab cake or who sells the most sparkling diamonds. The contest grew into our Eastern Shore and West County publications and, this year, we’ve broadened the contest categories to include Best Doctors, Dentists, and Vets (see ballot on page 65). To celebrate it all, we throw the Best Party in town with the winning restaurants serving their best, music, dancing, a silent auction benefitting local charities, and creative amusements.

Join us at this year's party!

Bridal Expo

(est. 2008)

On the heels of launching our What’s Up? Weddings publication, we organized a Bridal Expo that gave brides- and grooms-to-be, as well as their families, a first-look and meet-and-greet experience with several dozen regional vendors. The annual event, held in February, continues to be a match made in heaven.

Nutcracker Tea

(est. 2011)

It has grown into a family-beloved holiday tradition and a sellout event. So much so, that we added several seatings to the annual Nutcracker Tea. And those seatings sold out. Will we add more? Find out this coming December.


(est. 2015)

When we developed The LOOK section in our magazine, we thought, “How can we make this beauty and wellness content jump off the page?” Beyond the energized layouts and revealing articles, we went to task in the literal sense and brought this magazine department to life by making a biannual event out of it. Though it feels a bit like a ladies night out, the event is so much more (there’s even fun for the fellas) and includes salon treatments, pop-up shopping, food and drink, and wellness presentations from industry pros.


Remember These Events?

The once-annual Easter Tea, the monthly Annapolis Supper Club meals, Annapolis Restaurant Week (yup, we introduced and produced the very first), and the Annapolis Forum political panel discussion. Did we leave any out?


Women Who Make a Difference

(est. 2006):

Honors for best this and best that abound, but what about the actual individuals who’ve impacted our communities for the better and left legacies that inspire? Beginning in March 2006, and recognizing Women’s History Month, we honored leading ladies of our communities; profiles and portraits of female leaders in a variety of fields, from the arts and education to politics and civic duty. Pictured: Dr. Carol Parham, who was honored in 2009 and had served as superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools, 1993–2001.

Chefs’ Challenge

(est. 2009)

What happens when two of the region’s most talented chefs face off in a culinary challenge? We wanted to find out and, so, in 2009, we pitted the Best of Annapolis-winning chef and his counterpart on the Eastern Shore in a friendly competition to create multi-course meals using locally-available ingredients. The results have proven to be oh-so-delicious. Pictured: Chefs Brendan Keegan and Olivier Senoussaoui squared off in 2009.

What’s Up? Teachers

(est. 2015)

Each January, we honor the private school teachers who not only positively impact and influence their students, but also their school communities as a whole. Each teacher is nominated by their school’s principal. Pictured: Magdalene Sfondouris, English and Creative Writing teacher at St. Martin’s Lutheran School of Annapolis, was honored in 2017.

People Who’ve Made a Difference/What’s Up? Visionaries

(est. 2011):

The evolution of “Women Who Made a Difference” and “People to Watch” would birth “People Who’ve Made A Difference,” which later became “What’s Up? Visionaries.” The feature would be the true culmination of honoring community leaders—philanthropic, business, arts, education, politics, etc.—that have shaped our cities, counties, and state. It’s an editorial feature we revisit year after year. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of worthy honorees—a testament to our vibrant and diverse region. Pictured: Cathy and Jon Belcher, who were honored in 2017 for their philanthropy and business success.

People to Watch

(est. 2009):

On the heels and in the vein of our well-received Women Who Make a Difference article series, we juxtaposed legacies-made with legacies-to-be. People to Watch debuted in January 2009 and profiled a collection of up-and-comers, each under 40-years-old, whom we prognosticated would make positive waves in our communities. Though playing Nostradamus was ambitious, it’s safe to say that most honorees proved their mettle.



“Last Call for Watermen”

by Jim Lodico, April 2014

Writer Jim Lodico spends sunrise to sunset with the Mahoney watermen, Pat Sr. and Jr., collecting their thoughts on the crabbing and fishing industries of the Chesapeake Bay. As the last watermen operating out of Eastport in Annapolis, there’s a palpable fear of an industry squeezing out individual watermen, but the Mahoneys have a business formula that seems to be working.

“Conowingo Dam”

by Barbara Pash, April 2015

Referred to by some environmentalists at the “gateway to Bay pollution,” the Conowingo Dam became a flashpoint of public and private political controversy when we covered its environmental impact and proposed cleanup efforts within this feature article.

“Human Trafficking”

by Mark Smith, February 2015

It’s a scary fact that the Baltimore-Washington corridor—specifically, the BWI transportation center in Anne Arundel County—is one of the nation’s most active human trafficking hubs. The good news is that federal, state, and local law enforcement are working together to curb this crime, as we learned in Smith’s feature article. His follow-up article on the “Heroin Epidemic” was equally eye-opening about that which afflicts our very own communities.


Celebrities in the Mix

A few of our fave celebs to have graced our parties and publications

Jeff Daniels

on his favorite silver screen moments as an actor, October 2005

“You mean aside from sitting on a toilet in Dumb & Dumber? Let’s see. Several favorite moments. Chamberlain screaming, “Bayonets!” in Gettysburg. Moon-walking like the white man I am in Something Wild. The scene on the porch with Mia Farrow in Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo, where I talk about being a Hollywood star. That one stands out because Woody had encouraged me to ad lib and, as we were shooting, I could see him out of the corner of my eye cracking up. For an actor, making Woody Allen laugh is a great achievement.”

Chris Kirkpatrick

attends Best of Annapolis Parties

The NSYNC boy band phenom loved our celebration so much in 2007, he came back in ’08.

Travis Pastrana

on his motocross career, July 2005

“All I ever wanted to do was ride a motorcycle and now it encompasses so much more than that. I love this lifestyle as far as getting to ride every day. There’s a lot of hardship that comes with it…but it’s not that bad.”

Joan Rivers

discusses Lady Gaga, fashion, and fame, April 2010

“She’s the Bjork of this generation. And Bjork was the Elton John of her generation. Everyone forgets that Elton used to come out in top hats, crazy gloves, and big glasses. And that’s why we all watched Elton. Who do we remember? We remember the ones that are different. And then there’s talent to back it up.”

Peter Frampton

muses on the timelessness of Frampton Comes Alive, October 2006

“I think if there’s musical content in you that for whatever reason is generational—however you want to put it—that you just keep going and you’ll gather up new fans. I couldn’t be anymore thankful for the fact that Comes Alive has been one of those records that’s made me perennial. I’m sort of like a cat with nine lives. I’ve used up about seven, but I’m still going strong.”

Kevin Bacon

shares his musical influence, May 2006

“My brother is nine years older than me, so really he was my first big musical influence, listening to him play. Playing in a jug band [together], that was maybe our first band, which had a washtub bass and I played a washboard and blew into jugs—stuff like that. I used to practice a lot and I was certainly influenced by him and also by the music he was bringing home.”

Paula Poundstone

on the trappings of television, November 2007

“I stopped watching primetime television when Radar left M*A*S*H. I was so attached to M*A*S*H that at a certain point in my life, and fairly young, I said to myself, ‘ya know, there’s an awful lot of emotional energy spent on people that are characters—not real human beings.’ I don’t know if that’s mentally helpful.”