A Papillion native was the most recent media figure recognized by the Omaha Press Club.
Todd Lemke, the publisher of Omaha Magazine, was recognized as the “Best of Omaha” by Wendy Wiseman at the conclusion of a roast Sept. 25. Lemke was made the 138th Face on the Barroom Floor.
Lemke purchased the forerunner of what became Omaha Magazine in 1983. Since then, the magazine has grown to a circulation of 36,000 copies, along with an in-room hotel version that can reach upwards of a half-million visitors each month.
The magazine also has become well-known for its popular reader survey, ranking everything from restaurants to bands. Omaha Publications has dozens of other publications and publishes 14 titles including Omaha Magazine, B2B Omaha and The Encounter.
Lemke grew up in Papillion and graduated from Papillion High School in 1977. He graduated in 1981 with a journalism degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he worked at the Daily Nebraskan.
He earned his real estate license in 1977 while still in high school and worked at the family business, Action Real Estate. The money from his real estate career allowed him to enter the world of publishing.
Gil Cohen, executive vice president for sales and marketing at Omaha Publications, recalled his first encounter with Lemke 30 years ago.
“I was a young manager at Marriott when he brought his magazines to the hotel to distribute, and I thought, ‘What a poor schmuck — having to deliver these magazines, sell these magazines, publish these magazines,’” Cohen said while emceeing the event, according to an Omaha Press Club press release. “Now you see us 30 years later, and I’m the poor schmuck.”
Artist Jim Horan’s newest Face on the Floor portrays Lemke surrounded by his many publications. In the illustration, Lemke and his wife Sandy are shown speeding around the Omaha Magazine logo on their BMW motorcycle.
Lemke was thankful for the roaster’s comments, as well as the recognition for his importance in the community by the Omaha Press Club.
“When you simplify down what Omaha Magazine is, that’s how we make our living,” Lemke said at the event, according to a press release. “We show the best that Omaha has to offer, and aren’t we all fortunate that we have lived in a city that has really thrived in the last 30 years?”