By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Sep 01, 2004 at 5:51 AM

Though I find myself shaking my head in wonder as I write this, today marks the six-year anniversary of the launch of I'm not so exasperated because I didn't think we'd still be here after six years. Rather, it's because I'm so proud and amazed to reflect on what we've become in such a short time.

Sometimes, Sept. 1, 1998 seems like just yesterday. Other times, it feels like a lifetime ago. After all, back in the day, there was no Calatrava addition, no Alterra on the Lake, maybe just one restaurant in the Third Ward, and the only place I'd been to in Bay View was At Random.

So, when we rolled the dice and gambled that Milwaukee was a progressive enough city to support a daily entertainment magazine, it's not surprising that we had more than a few naysayers. But as each and every year passes, the number of doubters seems to diminish with increasing frequency. Let me declare it right here: We're here to stay, Milwaukee. Six great years of history and half a million readers each month have made that loud and clear. And things are getting more and more exciting each day at OMC.

I'm proud to say that the company my two business partners and I started in 1998 is profitable, mostly because of the hard work and determination of our 12 dedicated employees. They're the people hitting the streets, selling and designing ads, writing unique feature articles, building our site and keeping the whole operation running smoothly.

As other publications scramble to evolve to be more like OMC, we're turning into a more finely-tuned machine. Every day, we strategize how to push our product further and innovate in an industry that's changing almost too quickly. We know one, thing, however: the future of media in Milwaukee is online.

If you notice that stories we break on show up days, weeks and months later in the other media in Milwaukee, you're not alone. Our editorial motto this year has been, "You read it here first," and to that end, we've scooped the daily newspaper, TV news and the print magazines dozens of times with new Milwaukee business openings and other great exclusives. Though it's been a long time since anyone could say there was any heated competition in the Milwaukee media, just talk to the reporters and editors around town and ask them if they've had to become more accountable since our launch. At OMC, we think competition is good for everyone, and privately, they tell us that, too.

We have plenty to be excited about in our next year. In 2004, we focused on covering more Milwaukee news -- no, not fires and murders -- but the kind of news we'd like to read. We launched two new sections, "Kids and Family" and "Scoops," to better serve our readers, and we hope to increase the coverage in both of those sections. From a sales perspective, we've landed major advertising clients and more come knocking on our doors every day. We are also close to wrapping up our first major acquisition (details to come soon). Finally, we hope to move to a larger office this fall to make room for our growing business.

There's a passion about Milwaukee and our product in our office, and I only wish you could see it in person. From the staff meeting in which a salesperson actually wept with joy when landing a major account that we worked for years, to seeing our whole crew sporting OMC T-shirts and making one of our events a huge success -- I really have more than a dozen co-workers; I have a second family at 1504 E. North Ave. On behalf of Jeff, Jon and our investors, thank you all so much.

Our more than 15,000 daily readers and dozens of advertisers believe in the vision of Milwaukee that we saw back in 1998, and we thank all of you for making sure that we're still here today. We really couldn't have done it with out you.

And please stick with us, Milwaukee. The best is yet to come.

Happy six year anniversary,!

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.