In the Beginning ….
Frank Kane started the business, sometime before World War II, calling it “Frank Kane’s Weekly Letter.”
Born in July 1912, Kane graduated with a B.S. from New York City College by age 19, and enrolled in St. John Law School. He left law school before graduating, spent a couple of years as a columnist for the New York Press, was editor-in-chief of New York Trade Newspapers Corp. and an associate editor for the New York Journal of Commerce.
He also worked in public relations, and, according to his grand-daughter, spent time on Capitol Hill helping government officials lobby for the end of Prohibition.
Kane was prolific writer, creating “Johnny Liddell,” the New York detective, in 1944 for a pulp story, and went on to write 30 books and many short stories about him. He also wrote scripts for many of the top dramas during the Golden Age of Radio, including six years as writer of The Shadow, and three years writing Gang Busters
While his radio dramas had tens of millions of listeners, and his novels sold tens of millions of copies and were translated into 17 languages, it was Frank Kane’s Weekly Letter that was most important to executives in the liquor industry, who considered it the bible of the business.
Frank Kane died in 1968. Fifteen years later, in 1982, “Frank Kane’s Weekly Letter” was purchased by Joel Whitaker.
30+ Years of Breaking News That Matters
Joel Whitaker was an experienced prize winning newsman when he acquired “Frank Kane’s Weekly Letter.” He had been editor of the world’s oldest high school daily and editor in chief of the Indiana Daily Student. After graduating from Indiana University, he went to work at the St. Petersburg Times as a reporter, and later as an editor responsible for national news coverage.
He moved to New York in 1968, the same year Frank Kane died, as an editor at The Wall Street Journal, where he wrote the Page One news summary. In 1973, he was hired as business news editor at the Philadelphia Bulletin, then the nation’s second-largest newspaper with a circulation exceeding 625,000. While in Philadelphia, Whitaker graduated from Temple University School of Law. After taking his bar exam, he joined the staff of Institutional Investor as managing editor of Bank Letter.
He bought “Frank Kane’s Weekly Letter” in 1982, and has been writing it ever since. Over the past quarter century, he has broken a number of important stories. He beat all other reporters, including those at The Wall Street Journal, with the news the federal government would raise the federal excise tax on beer, wine and distilled spirits. He warned of the impact Mothers Against Drunk Driving would have on the alcohol beverage industry.
At a time when many industry leaders believed the alcohol beverage business was threatened with death, Whitaker accurately predicted the “French Paradox” would change the image of beer, wine and spirits to products which, when consumed in moderation, actually promote human health. And he was the first reporter to detail a pharmaceutical breakthrough – the development of a drug that has the potential for ending alcohol abuse, a drug that reduces the craving for alcohol experienced by alcoholics.
When the Obama Administration concocted a plan to dismantle the industry’s federal regulator — the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau — Whitaker got a copy of the plan, published it and for five days pointed out how the proposal would hurt people who make and sell beer, wine, spirits and hard cider. The proposal was dropped.
His reporting has been honored by the University of Missouri, New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Newsletter Publishers Association (now the Specialized Information Publishers Association.
He was Council President in Fanwood, NJ, a director and treasurer of the Newsletter Publishers Association and the Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Foundation. He’s a member of the National Press Club, and the Society of Professional Journalists, and the National Communications Association. He is also an adjunct professor at Prince George’s Community College, where he teaches interpersonal communications and introduction to human communications.
Under Whitaker, Frank Kane’s Weekly Letter was renamed “Kane’s Beverage Week.” In 2005, in response to requests for daily news updates, Whitaker launched “Beverage News Daily.” Today, top beverage executives have a summary of the most important news affecting the industry — including regulatory, financial, social policy and marketing developments — in their inboxes in the early evening, nearly every business day.