Our publisher is moving on from the magazine he created seven years ago, but not without explaining why and what will remain the same about CityMag.
‘The privilege of a lifetime’ – our founder bids farewell
I don’t know about you, but Adelaide can feel like a lonely place a lot of the time. It can feel incredibly claustrophobic too.
This duality is not unique to the garden city built on Kaurna land, but it is at the core of why I started publishing 13 years ago.
At 23 years of age and living in the Adelaide of 2007 (before the Oval redevelopment, SAHMRI, and small bars), there would have been no way to convince me I’d make it to 2020 and be successfully handing over the reins of a media brand read by more than 600,000 people each year. In 2007, I wasn’t even printing 1,000 copies of my first magazine.
This week I announce my resignation from CityMag (my third masthead), as I reach the end of a two-year transition period Solstice Media and I agreed to as part of their acquisition of my business in 2018.
CityMag’s success is testament to the change in attitude that has taken place over the past few years. The Adelaide of 2007 wanted you to be in business for at least two years before it would take you seriously or consider taking out an advert in your magazine. In 2020, our state government has given prime North Terrace real estate to a bunch of start-up businesses, some of which are yet to make or sell anything other than promises.
Change, in this sense, is great.
The loneliness about living in Adelaide I felt back in 2007 came from the fact that the brilliant people in my peer group and the extended scene were ignored by the mainstream media. The claustrophobia I felt stemmed from the Groundhog Day experience I got from seeing the same people (of the same colour and cultural experience) doing the same things, in the same way, every day in the paper.
If there’s one thing a vibrant city runs on, it’s the energy of new and interesting people doing new and interesting things.
Without a media brand who valued new ideas and championed change at a grassroots level, I believe Adelaide would have continued to lose generations of young people to the bright lights of bigger, more progressive cities.
South Australian-owned Solstice Media is the only media brand I can see who takes young people and new ideas seriously.
It was a dream come true, then, when we found a home for CityMag alongside the powerful InDaily and peerless SALIFE in 2018. These three titles—together—have become more than the sum of their parts, and this company’s growth over the past two years must surely qualify it for some sort of Harvard Business School case study. Even Facebook and Google are working with Solstice across its hubs in Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne in 2020.
Another business that deserves a case study is the landmark Adelaide advertising agency KWP!, which has invited me onboard as group creative director. I start my new role in July.
The transformation KWP! has undergone with CEO David O’Loughlin at the helm has been wholesale. The group has evolved from a classic ad agency into a multi-faceted communication and technology company in just two short years. Joining the established team of impeccable creatives at KWP! will give me new context and bandwidth to explore this city’s potential and create new pathways and opportunities for the young, and emerging creative practitioners out there.
I first started making magazines because I didn’t feel like Adelaide saw its true potential. We created a platform for young people to tell their stories, because their stories also told my story. CityMag’s founding editor Farrin Foster and I wanted to give Adelaide some swagger and to help it see how its offering as a small-scale city was truly world-class.
Now, under editor Johnny von Einem, CityMag has fulfilled the above list of intent… and then some.
One of my proudest achievements in business to date has been the successful inculcation of the CityMag brand values in Johnny and to see him build the brand beyond even what Farrin and I could or did do. CityMag has grown so much in the past six months under Johnny’s editorship and I am so happy to give him room now to truly make the brand his own.
I feel like it’s impossible to grow something and hold onto it at the same time.
And while I sub out of the day-to-day at the magazine, I am really looking forward to contributing to the masthead’s success in print as it comes back from COVID-19 in a bigger and better way than ever before.
I think this pandemic has really drawn a line underneath humanity’s need to connect – with ideas, with inspiration, and with each other. The opportunity for me at KWP! is to work with some of the most influential thinkers, brands and businesses in the state to help them connect in a meaningful way with the community and to tell their own story in a way that contributes positively to the diversity and—simultaneously—singularity of our nation.
I made a choice 13 years ago to remain in Adelaide, come what may, and scrub away at the conservative crust that had formed on our otherwise progressive foundations. In this moment, as I let go of CityMag and reach out to KWP!, I feel rewarded for believing our city could change.
It’s a privilege to live and grow up here – to leave, to love, and even to hate Adelaide. But if you don’t want to contribute to this place, if you just want to see it stay the same, then I’m afraid you’re gonna get in my—and a whole generation of creative and compassionate people’s—way.
And if you’re still not convinced Adelaide can be better and can change, let me shout you a beer at The Exeter and explain how much it already has.
Cheers and nakutha.