Pam Ashby is transitioning from publisher to owner of Uncle Andy’s Digest and LA Metro Magazine in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

AUBURN — In today’s increasingly digital world, there are fewer and fewer printed publications, much less free ones. After more than 30 years on the Lewiston-Auburn scene, Uncle Andy’s Digest remains a unique, advertiser-centric, monthly magazine that will soon change hands along with its sister publication, LA Metro Magazine.

Pam Ashby, publisher and an employee since 2013, is buying the magazines from owner and CEO Sue Marston. It’s a process that’s been in the works for years, starting in 2017, when Ashby was elevated to editor-in-chief as her boss and mentor, Jim Marston, stepped back and took on the role of CEO.

For readers and advertisers of the publications, Ashby pledges that no significant changes are planned.

“I think Uncle Andy’s kind of is a well-oiled machine at this point,” she said. “It has a good reputation, people know what it is, people look for it, people are picking it up … but there are some things within it that need to change, that need to evolve.”

For now, any changes will be incremental and subtle, like integrating more digital content to an updated website and improving reader navigation within Uncle Andy’s Digest and focusing more on social media for engagement with readers and advertisers.

Ashby fully understands the realities of diminishing readership in print and spent three-and-a-half years as the production manager for D Magazine, a slick and popular monthly magazine in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro, covering everything from politics to fashion. D Magazine easily has triple the monthly circulation of Uncle Andy’s Digest’s 22,000 and boasts more than 1.3 million active users online.


But Ashby’s job opportunity of a lifetime has had a tug of war with her Maine roots and ties to the Marston family, which ultimately won out. Serious health issues for Jim Marston and Ashby’s son one year ago found them both at a Boston hospital at the same time. Marston lost his battle with cancer last June, while Ashby’s son is on a long, slow path of rehabilitation and recovery from a rare spinal stroke.

The path to ownership has been bumpy for Ashby but is now on a straight course. In the next few months, she hopes to finalize all the financing and other aspects of the business and put her own stamp on the publications.

Both Uncle Andy’s Digest and LA Metro Magazine are published out of a Grove Street business in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“I probably will be wearing the hat of many positions for a little while,” she acknowledged. “We currently lost our editor-in-chief who did a lot of things for us. Therefore a lot was added to my plate.”

But it’s a job Ashby knows well and is part of the reality of owning a small business.

Ashby said what makes Uncle Andy’s unique and attractive to its readers and advertisers is its format and content.

“When people go to functions that our advertisers hold, we go to those functions and we take pictures and we put them in our magazine, so that’s a very unique aspect of Uncle Andy’s … it’s very lighthearted, there’s never anything that’s going to be depressing. I think that’s what people enjoy about it. It’s fun, it gets you away.”

It’s the “Out ‘n About” sections and the corny jokes that readers latch on to, Ashby said. In order to attract a younger readership, you may see some of that content make its way online. However, Ashby said she feels LA Metro Magazine has bigger potential online, where she would like to add content like blogs.

“I want to point out all these positive, smaller things that don’t necessarily make it in as a story, that we can talk about on our website and point out to people,” Ashby said.

If a publication is a reflection of the local community, Ashby eluded to one of her personal goals — she wants the community to be a better place. “More successful, thriving, more things to do. People are moving here. The better the community does, the better all businesses do. But ultimately, we want a better community to live in.”

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