Steve Kandell

Steve Kandell has been named site director of, Hearst revealed today. Kandell comes to Hearst from Buzzfeed, where he was, most recently, executive editor for features. Formerly the editor in chief of Spin, Kandell left the music mag in 2012 to oversee Buzzfeed’s expansion into longform.

“Steve’s experience is a perfect fit for the top spot at,” said senior vice president and editorial director of Hearst Digital Kate Lewis. “The conversation-starting journalism that Esquire is known for is now more essential than it’s ever been, and I’m excited to see Steve build upon the style, service and humor essential to the site’s mission.” Kandell will report to Lewis.

The position of Esquire site director has been vacant since Michael Mraz, who was the director of digital content for the four titles that make up Hearst’s men’s group, as well as Town and Country, went over to the business side as the executive director of audience development and strategic partnerships earlier this month. At the time, Troy Young, the president of Hearst Magazines Digital Media, told WWD that a replacement would be named “soon,” but declined to give an exact timetable. “You just have to remember that ‘soon’ is a very specific word,” he said. Apparently, that specific word meant just over two weeks in this case.

“It’s a huge honor to join a brand with the distinguished legacy of in-depth reporting and cultural commentary that Esquire has—especially at such a critical moment,” Kandell said in an email to WWD.

Unlike Mraz, who was in charge of digital (Hearst maintains a firm separation between print and digital) for Esquire, Car and Driver, Road and Track, Popular Mechanics and Town and Country, Kandell will only oversee Esquire’s site. As WWD reported, nobody is expected to replace Mraz as head of digital for the five titles — a departure from Hearst’s strategy of grouping digital brands by category.

In addition to Kandell’s appointment, Hearst announced two promotions. Elisa Benson, who, as social director for Hearst Digital’s Young Women’s Network, has been overseeing social media strategy for,, and, will become special projects director for those titles’ digital presence. Kristin Koch, the executive editor of, has been bumped up to site director of the teen brand.