Despite varied media career, writer has ink in the blood
This is my last regular column with The Daily Sentinel. Writing a weekly column and publishing a high-quality magazine at the same time is, well, quite unrealistic. Yes, it’s time to bring back Grand Valley Magazine.
I’ve worked in media, directly and indirectly, since high school.
Our cheerleading squad did a fund-raising promotion at a local radio station one weekend, and by the end of it, I practically begged the station manager to hire me. I was fascinated. He gave in, and for more than a year I twisted knobs and pushed buttons for the weekly Top 40 and Denver Broncos’ football games.
From radio, I moved on to ad agencies, then newspapers, books and magazines. That’s where I discovered the ink in my blood. The in-depth features, rush of a breaking story, discovery moments in research, exclusive interviews and the love-hate relationship of impossible deadlines. Editors and publishers questioning, pushing, challenging, ever reminding of our responsibilities to readers despite our all-too-human frailties.
The decades rolled on; technology evolved. And I rolled merrily along with it.
Arriving in the Grand Valley after a career primarily in print, I was surprised that such a dynamic community didn’t have its own magazine. I’d seen the lovely glossies for Telluride, Montrose and Aspen. And everywhere I looked, the Grand Valley was rife with feature stories just waiting to be told — along with all the necessary talent for publishing those features in a high-quality magazine format.
So in October 2008, Grand Valley Magazine was born. We and our readers enjoyed celebrating the dynamic life, landscape and people of the greater Grand Valley in each monthly issue.
But, in 2010, Apple launched the iPad and, while well received by consumers, it created a whole new set of expensive challenges for publishers — including Grand Valley Magazine — as distribution and postage costs continued to climb.
After 32 months of publishing the magazine, I had no choice but to suspend publication with the May 2011 issue. That was, as you might imagine, one of the lowest times of my life.
I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. So when the good folks at KREX News Channel 5 asked if I’d ever considered TV news as a complementary career option, I admitted that, no, I had not — and not just because high-definition television was not going to flatter my middle-age face!
But, I decided to give it a go. The learning curve was steep, to put it mildly. Uh-oh, so that’s the record button on the camera. How am I supposed to carry that beast of a tripod? What do you mean I have to tell this story in 47 seconds?
Fortunately, I had patient, good-humored mentors. It was like being back at the radio station learning from scratch all over again — and it felt great.
Yet the opportunity to write a weekly column for The Daily Sentinel quickened that old ink in my blood and overpowered my camera accomplishments. I bid farewell to my TV family and returned to print for yet another career challenge. I’d never written opinion pieces, so it took a little while to find my voice, but I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it.
In the meantime, the media industry continued evolving. Technologies that were beyond the reach of a small regional magazine a year ago are now accessible. Barriers that led to the suspension of Grand Valley Magazine have collapsed, thanks to creative solutions based on in-depth market research, innovative business modeling, new vendor partnerships and renewed value in credible media — in content as well as packaging.
The time is right for a broader, stronger Grand Valley Magazine available not only in glossy print editions, but iPad, Kindle, Android-based tablets and website editions as well.
We considered going digital only, but even readers with the latest and greatest tech toys made it clear that they still want that worthy-of-print quality in addition to the click-click of digital editions. There is still something special about print.
Thank you to the Sentinel team for allowing me the time and space to find my voice (even when I went over word count and snuck in the occasional shameless plug) and to all my media peers who refused to let me quit even on my lowest days.
But most of all, thank you to every reader who took time to comment. I learned the most from you.