Firecrown Media grows again with addition of Trains, Astronomy


I am thrilled that Firecrown is expanding into the railroad and space media sectors by acquiring Kalmbach Media’s Trains and Astronomy media groups. This acquisition opens up exciting new possibilities for our company.
The Kalmbach portfolio is highly synergistic with Firecrown.
Firecrown proudly stands as one of the leading transportation media providers, serving the aviation, boating, and logistics industries with renowned brands such as FLYING, Boating, Yachting, Salt Water Sportsman and FreightWaves.
The acquisition includes Trains, Model Railroader, Classic Toy Trains, Classic Trains, Garden Railways, and, the space enthusiast brand Astronomy, as well as FineScale Modeler, Kalmbach Books, and their digital e-commerce stores.
The rail titles fit perfectly in the Firecrown portfolio and the breadth of experience of our staff. is the world’s most trafficked railroad news and entertainment website, and the print magazines in its portfolio are the most read in the category. In recent years, has built an extensive video portfolio, tailoring content around the love of trains and model railroading.
Kalmbach has deep ties in the railroad community, having published magazines and books about railroads and model trains for over 90 years. There isn’t a deeper connection in the rail enthusiast community than the one that Kalmbach built. The Firecrown staff will work diligently to continue and build on that connection moving forward.
Additionally, the rail and aviation communities have a great deal in common. Besides the obvious — both being transportation modes and having similarities in business models — the enthusiast audience is vast in both categories. We believe that “railfans” and “avgeeks” are kindred spirits.
With the acquisition, Firecrown plans to invest significantly in Trains’ business editorial coverage, increasing the cadence and depth of coverage of the rail industry. FreightWaves, one of Firecrown’s brands, provides a playbook to help achieve this.
There will be a substantial increase in daily update videos, news content and analysis, virtual events and business analysis for the rail industry, modeled after the FreightWaves media brand’s success covering the logistics industry.
Firecrown also becomes the new owner of Astronomy, the largest magazine serving the space community. Published for over 50 years, Astronomy has become the go-to source for amateur and professional astronomers.
Firecrown plans to retain all of the editorial and content resources of the former Kalmbach Media brands and open a new office in Wisconsin to accommodate the teams currently working on them.
“We are excited to have found a new home for these storied and well-respected brands,” said Dan Hickey, CEO of Kalmbach Media. “While these are always difficult decisions, it is great to know that their stewardship moving forward will be under the guidance of a company and leader dedicated and passionate about their continued growth and expansion.”
An exciting time for astronomy
The emphasis on space exploration has created massive interest in all things space. This is expected to increase as private companies and government agencies accelerate the second “space race.”
Amateur astronomy is also experiencing a renaissance as new digital telescopes come to market. Telescope and astrophotography manufacturers are introducing smart telescopes that make the hobby more accessible and enjoyable than ever.
These new technologies have enabled even the most inexperienced astronomers to take photos of deep-space objects such as nebulas, galaxies and clusters — all with a button on an app.
More impressively, these digital telescopes built for amateurs rival and often exceed the capabilities of professional telescopes, which can cost 100 times more. This is the Instagram generation’s answer to astronomy.
Astronomy may seem like an outlier to Firecrown’s portfolio, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The aviation and space communities have a substantial overlap.
Pilots and aviation enthusiasts are often drawn to the cosmos, dreaming of space flight and exploration. Firecrown plans to broaden Astronomy’s coverage of space exploration and anticipates significant collaboration between the FLYING and Astronomy editorial teams.
Over the past three years, FLYING has rapidly expanded its editorial coverage of space flight and exploration with great success.
Some of the most trafficked stories on are about space exploration and missions. This is a huge opportunity to make space a core focus of our portfolio.
Kalmbach has expanded beyond media to include e-commerce in the past few years. It has two media properties, one focused on railroad hobbyists and the other on the astronomy community. As part of this transaction, Firecrown is acquiring both.
Firecrown plans to expand the product lineup at Kalmbach’s hobby store (which will be rebranded) to include a greater selection of railroad-fan merchandise.
Firecrown has even bigger plans for the astronomy e-commerce operation,
This past February, Firecrown acquired the largest e-commerce store for NASA collectibles, the Space Store. The plan is to merge MyScienceShop into the SpaceStore, creating a “space enthusiast superstore.”
The product lineup of the two e-commerce stores is very different.
MyScienceShop has focused on products that enable space enthusiasts to explore and express their curiosity about the science and love of space. In contrast, the Space Store provides high-quality collectibles for the NASA and space mission community. By merging two properties and products into a single entity, the Space Store will have the largest selection of space-focused products anywhere in the universe.
To me, this whole transaction is personal
I love all things transportation — trucks, airplanes, boats and trains.
I’ve always been fascinated by how people and products move. This is really in my blood. While I grew up around trucks, I also had a deep love for trains. I’ve built my share of model railroad layouts and even had the chance to work around the rail industry — first in intermodal operations at U.S. Xpress and then through my work at FreightWaves.
But that isn’t even the most exciting part of this whole deal.
This transaction takes me back to when I was a young kid. My love of transportation is only matched by my passion for astronomy. The first two magazines I ever subscribed to were FLYING and Astronomy.
Each of the Firecrown brands reflects not only my passions but the passions of each employee. We will work to give our audiences the best reporting, information and merchandise available.



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