Special report

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Christopher Whittle, 40, set the publishing business atwitter when he bought and revived Esquire magazine with his former partner and fellow Tennessean, Phillip Moffitt. Now the dapper chairman of privately held Whittle Communications has folks talking again. Come September, he plans to launch Special Reports, a magazine project Whittle says will bring in $30 million during the first year alone and be profitable from the start. Special Reports is actually six quarterly magazines -- covering such topics as health, sports, and personalities -- that will be distributed to 15,000 gynecologists, pediatricians, and general practitioners. Claims Whittle: ''We will reach 70% of all mothers in America.'' By targeting specific audiences, Whittle has built a $105 million media business. His 38 publications include Pet Care Report, distributed to veterinarians' offices, and Physician's Weekly, sold to 1,600 hospitals. ''Creating magazines around a niche is very smart,'' says a competitor. ''Advertisers are willing to pay a lot to be assured of reaching their target audience.'' Whittle says he has already booked $15 million in ads for the new concept. Whittle refuses to run ads for competing products in the same publication. With Special Reports, he is surgically removing ad clutter: He is asking doctors to subscribe to no more than two additional publications for their waiting rooms. In return, he is offering lower prices than they would pay for other magazines. A 350-person distribution staff will make monthly checkups to replace worn magazines and ensure that doctors keep their bargain. Whittle is so certain of succeeding that he just closed a deal to build a $46 million headquarters in Knoxville. The son of an Appalachian country doctor, Whittle is clearly comfortable in the empire he has created. He owns an elegant apartment in Manhattan and a farmhouse in Vermont, both of which he has filled with Victorian-era paintings and furniture. But for all his success at selling, his first love is politics. ''When I start approaching 50,'' he says, ''I'll run for office.'' He's not likely to sell himself short.