The origins of the company name go back to about 1988 when Publisher Jeff R. Lonto had been contemplating a career as a free-lance graphic artist. He initially thought of calling his firm The Studio, after Andy Warhol's "The Factory," but deciding that it sounded too generic, he added Z-7, from the old Pennzoil commercials that touted "Additive Z-7." By 1989 a logo was created and the name became Studio Z-7 Productions. The graphic arts career, however, did not materialize.
By the early 1990s, Lonto decided that writing was his thing and spent much of the decade writing a book about a Minneapolis radio station, and articles for the Minnesota-based Pavek Museum of Broadcasting. He submitted his book manuscript, Fiasco At 1280, to several establishment regional publishers who expressed interest but nevertheless did not want to take any chances on it. Undaunted, he decided to start his own publishing company. He still liked the name of the production company he once dreamed of and on Wednesday, May 21, 1997, Studio Z-7 Publishing was officially registered as a business in the State of Minnesota.
A 1913 advertisement for Minneapolis photographers S. E. Johnson and Company, found in that year's edition of a long-forgotten city directory called Dual City Blue Book, which ceased publication in the 1920s, served as the basis for the Studio Z-7 logo design that was first used on a business card in 1997, and variations of it have been used on the Studio Z-7 website and promotional materials over the years. Very Art Nouveau and cutting edge for its time, publisher Jeff Lonto was intrigued by it and decided to adopt it as a unique and identifiable design, bringing it back to life almost a century later. It also seemed appropriate for a publishing firm as it looks like something out of an old book, yet looks contemporary as well.
Immediately he began the complicated process of getting “Fiasco” printed up and on the market and at the same time began a second book about a local brewery called Legend of the Brewery. “Fiasco” was published in March 1998 and “Legend” was published in November of that same year. But it was only the beginning. Promotional copies of both books were sent out to members of the media for review and publicity, events were held at bookstores and Studio Z-7 even began a campaign of paid advertising in a California-based publication called The Book Reader to expand interest beyond the Midwest region. Lonto appeared on KARE-11 television, KMSP Fox 9, the 50,000-watt WCCO-AM Radio, Minnesota Public Radio’s Midday and ironically WWTC-AM, the subject of “Fiasco At 1280,” to discuss the subjects of his books.
In 2007, Studio Z-7 published a third book authored by Lonto, It Happened on the Air, a compilation of articles about radio and television stations and networks that he had written for the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting in the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2010, a fourth book by Lonto, Chronicles from the Analog Age, was published.
In 2010 Studio Z-7 Publishing expanded its scope beyond self-publishing and regional interest books with the publication of a children's book, My Brother...He's an Angel by new author and illustrator Savannah L. Leyde. In 2015, Studio Z-7 teamed up with Smashwords to begin publishing a line of electronic books.
Mailing address: Studio Z-7 Publishing, 813 Marshall Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413-1816