Ken Smikle, founder of Target Market News, dies of congestive heart failure


Ken Smikle, the media insider who founded Target Market News, died Wednesday of congestive heart failure, according to multiple reports.

Smikle, who lived in Chicago with his wife Renee Ferguson, a retired Emmy-award winning reporter, founded Target Market News in 1988. The publication is considered a leading voice in marketing, advertising and media focused on the Black demographic.

Ferguson announced the news on her Facebook page accompanied by a closeup of she and her husband’s clasped hands.

“Said goodbye tonight to the love of my life Ken Smikle,” Ferguson posted late Wednesday evening. “We held hands through all of life’s ups and downs. Not sure how to get through life without his beautiful hand to hold.”

Before founding the groundbreaking publication, Smikle wrote for Essence magazine and was senior editor of Black Enterprise, according to Rolling Out.

In an interview in 1995 with the Chicago Tribune, Smikle explained his motivation behind launching Target Market News.

“While an editor at Black Enterprise magazine I could see millions of dollars flowing in and out of the marketing business in efforts to (target Black) consumers, and no publication was writing about that,” he said. “I saw the possibility for a new publication devoted exclusively to this area.”

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Smikle and his work had a strong presence in the Black community and he hosted many conferences focused on Black Americans including the Marketing to African Americans with Excellence Summit, according to Rolling Out.

Smikle also served with several organizations. He was a member of the African-American Council of the Nielsen Company and was named Outstanding Entrepreneur by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Black Alumni Association, Rolling Out reported. He also was the media advocacy chair of the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Along with his wife, Smikle is survived by a son, Jason.