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Q&A: a Kentucky story is made in a print magazine

Print is continually called a dying breed, so it’s refreshing to see launches that challenge this tired mantra. Like many other brave souls, Julie Wilson defied this perception when she dreamed up STORY magazine, which is dedicated to telling the unique stories that make up Kentucky. Slated to launch next week, Wilson spoke with inVocus about her new baby and her passion for sharing her community’s stories.

KMM: How did you get the idea for STORY?

Julie Wilson (JW): I have worked in the magazine industry for nearly 15 years now, but for the first 12 years, I was doing national and international publications. I learned a great deal, but most of my outreach was over the phone or in email. In my last position as publisher of Kentucky Bride, I got back into my community and realized just how much I missed talking with people face to face. You get so much more insight out of people when you talk with them in their own environment. Because of that, the ideas from my state of Kentucky just kept snowballing, and I knew they needed an outlet.

KMM: What has the process been like getting it together?

You’ve heard of a skeleton crew? Ours is a skeleton of a skeleton crew. My ad director and I have literally been pounding the pavement around the Bluegrass State, meeting people, sharing stories and just making some great connections.

Every time we talk with someone, the conversation always evolves into “Have you heard of such and such in Kentucky?” And more than likely, we haven’t. Every city in Kentucky has so much going on that people just assume everyone already knows about it. But they don’t, and that’s where STORY magazine comes in. We are excited to put the spotlight on Kentucky stories that have yet to come to the surface.

KMM: What types of stories can be found in it?

JW: The magazine is very editorially driven, so we are writing in-depth features on everything from arts and entertainment to unique business models to philanthropy. The cover story in our premier issue features FORD model Ashley Brock, who has traveled all over the world doing runway shows in Paris, London and Tokyo, yet when the shows are over, she heads right back home to Helton, Ky., which is a very small town in Eastern Kentucky – quite different from the bright lights of Paris. She shares her love of her community, which is just an amazing thing to see.

KMM: Why do you think it will appeal to your audience?

JW: Personally, I love discovering new things right in my own backyard. Kentucky is quite famous for its horses and basketball. Don’t get us wrong, we love those things, but they barely scratch the surface of what truly reigns supreme in the Bluegrass State.

KMM: How big is your staff?

JW: There is me – publisher, EIC and chief bottle washer; Laurel Cassidy, STORY’s ad director; Tim Jones, our creative director; and a pool of freelance writers and photographers.

KMM: How many will you initially be printing?

JW: We printed 10K for our first issue. We are reaching the entire state, so we wanted to make a strong first impression.

KMM: It’s no secret the industry has been in flux for some time, are you nervous about launching a print publication? Why print and not digital?

JW: I love it when people ask me that question. It’s so funny. Just last night, The Kentucky Theatre in Lexington was showing “Ghostbusters” as part of their classic summer series. In the movie, Egon said “Print is dead,” and I just laughed out loud. That movie was made in 1984. 28 years later, and print is still going. Print isn’t dead, it’s just a different medium.

KMM: Will it have a website? If so, what will be found on it?

JW: Our website is up and running at StoryTheMagazine.com. Right now, we are giving people a sneak peek as to what they’ll find in the first issue. As we move forward, we will share some of the feature stories, but we also want to include some behind-the-scenes video from our photo shoots as well as timely news about what’s coming up in future issues. We want it to be an active place where people can share ideas of what they would like to read about in STORY. I’m big on open communication.

KMM: What is your hope for the publication?

JW: Garden & Gun has done such an amazing job bringing the real South to light, and this is what we would like STORY to do for Kentucky. I have lived in this state since I was 4 years old, and I love being surprised by the new things I find out about the place I call home. There is so much energy and excitement about our state; the people who live here are truly engaged in their communities, and their innovation is just astounding. I hope people will look forward to seeing what’s going on around them in each issue of STORY.

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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