Magazines and my best friend

For 33 of my 55 years on this planet, I have been immersed in the magazine business. Yes, I was 22 when I published my first magazine and the pride and sense of accomplishment I felt that day have never left me; hopefully never will.

I have been smitten ever since. Even as a young boy growing up in Lethbridge I fell in love with magazines that found their way into our home: Life, National Geographic, Time, Hit Parade, Sport, People, Popular Science, Reader’s Digest, Modeler, Baseball, MAD, True, Hot Rod, Sports Illustrated, Tiger Beat and Weekend.

If my human bias does not bully my experience, allow me to share with you what might be called magazine wisdom.

Canadians are also among the globe’s most voracious magazine readers.

Reading a magazine is personal. Unlike radio and TV that are usually consumed in small groups, magazines are enjoyed intimately. The experience is real and intoxicating enough that most readers form strong bonds with their favourite journals. Self-proclaimed magazine junkies have openly admitted their favourite magazine is like a best friend, doling out advice or telling a good bedtime story, a comforting source next to their bosom. (I’m not sure where Okanagan Life’s bosom is but history proves that some magazines exist solely because of that body part.)

In Canada, we have the world’s most educated populace and Canadians are also among the globe’s most voracious magazine readers.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons we love magazines is also the most obvious—they are tangible and permanent. People keep their favourite magazines to read over and refer back to. Business owners keep magazines in high-traffic waiting areas where dozens or even hundreds read while they wait. (This happens despite Google’s profound inability to count off-line.)

If you are holding Okanagan Life in your hands right now, the tactile, touchy-feely experience of holding it contributes and meshes beautifully with the visual words, photos and articles to create the most enjoyable of all media experiences, according to Adobe Systems. In an exhaustive 2012 global study of both consumers and marketing professionals, Adobe found magazines to be the world’s best media (55 per cent) when it comes to the “most preferred place to view an ad.” However, the cover story here runs deeper. Favourite print magazine registered almost three times more popular than favourite TV show, at 21 per cent, and 11 times more popular than billboards at 4 per cent. Social media had only a 2 per cent approval rating despite Mark Zuckerberg’s much heralded ability to walk on water.

Okanagan Life has become a best friend to me. Each issue, she quietly arrives at 16,500 Okanagan businesses and homes through the postal service where she waits for you and others to notice her, pick her up and read her. Quite the opposite of other media, isn’t she? And notice her you do, as this dance is repeated, a half-million times over the next three months. We celebrate that she is real and lasting, living hundreds or thousands of times longer that her 30 second cousins.

She is also circulation-audited so based on our trading area of 300,000, and benchmarking her against all magazines in North America, she has become one of the best-read magazines of them all.

For 25 years I have adored her, cursed her and loved her. For the record, I have a name for this beautiful woman: Contents. She also narrates a musical I wrote, affectionately named Ink! the Musical. In 2006, Ink! played to crowds in Vancouver’s Granville Island and I was able to realize a life-long dream.

Lights up, opening scene, Contents sings:

Life is for living and Time is for giving and People you must realize, we’re all human beings. In rapid succession, all the aforementioned, can be celebrated here, they’re all magazines.”

Thanks for reading.

Making your own kind of music

Making your own kind of music

What better way to celebrate three decades of Okanagan Life than printing a 30th-anniversary issue and penning a new musical libretto?
Regular readers of Okanagan Life will know that I go to great lengths to boast about, sell its advantages and invite all to visit our renowned Valley, which is humbly known as one of the prettiest, happiest and adventurous places—and what better locale to place my cast of musical characters?