Monday, June 20, 2011

Two Grandfathers (One Me).

I never knew my mother's father (above, 2nd from the right). He passed away before I was born. And most of the stories I grew up hearing about him turned out to be false.

But he did lose an eye while fighting for Japan during World War II. He was stationed in the Philippines, ironically where my father's father (below) was fighting ... for America. They might have been shooting at each other.
I came real close to not existing.

Then again, because of World War II, the United States put American military bases all over Japan. My parents met because my father served in the Navy in my mother's hometown.

No matter how you look at it, I'm lucky I'm here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Start-up Journal: Getting to Know Me.

A bunch of JUMP staffers spent more than ten hours at The Roots Picnic on Saturday and it was pretty amazing. We networked with a bunch of folks and we gave away more than 1,100 copies of the new summer issue. Some people actually sat right next to us and read through the magazine, scouring almost every story. It was cool to watch.

Many people asked us if we included the line-up of acts for the actual event (which we did not). A few people asked about getting coverage for their bands. The mother of one of our cover musicians snagged about 6 magazines. Then she came back later and grabbed a whole stack.

We've only dropped about 4,000 copies so far. By the end of the week we'll have around 7,500 in circulation. The full run will be out by mid-week next week.

The feedback for the issue has been fantastic. It looks sharp and bright. The stories are strong. Since the issue went live on Friday, we've been averaging around 450 hits per day. That isn't bad for an unknown website that is still building a web audience for a print publication.

Here are a few things that I'm working through:

• People keep telling me we need a better web presence. My goal is to create a print publication and frankly, I don't have time to work on a website. But there is obviously a market for information if we post more stuff online.

• I wanted to create a product that was deep, especially in comparison to blogs. We can write long and run large images. In the first issue, I avoided shorter stories. We have several shorter pieces in the summer issue and the mix seems to be popular. I'm thinking we need more short stories?

• That makes me think that we should be a fairly traditional magazine format - short pieces up front, features in the middle and long-form stuff at the back of the book.

• That confirms my notion that young people want a print Philadelphia magazine that is geared toward them. They were under-served.

• That makes me wonder if we should diversify our content even more - rather than focus on music, should we really be a youth culture magazine (rather than a magazine that uses music as a hook for all the content)? Should we write about movies? Fashion?

The mag will continue to evolve. For the fall issue, we will have a complete re-design: new logo, new fonts, cleaner layout, etc. The issue will coincide with several music festivals so we are planning to do some contextual/ historical pieces. We want to show off Philly's musical heritage.

I have a shed full of magazines to distribute, and that is daunting. But I'm feeling really good about the product (I've already re-stocked several places that ran out of mags).

(Thanks to Sarah Hull for the photo).