Having settled into my new job as Concrete Wave’s Executive Whatever for the last month (or so), I decided that it was high time to start the process of answering everybody’s various questions. It’s something that I have consciously and deliberately avoided doing, for the simplest and most practical of reasons: my job, as I see it… first and foremost… is to listen. To listen to the advertisers. To listen to The Brain Trust, the staff, and the contributors. To listen to the readers. That, my frenemies, is where my focus has been for the past month: listening more, and talking much, much less. And I’ve learned huge big bunches about the magazine, and the people involved with it in the process. In retrospect, it might have been the wisest thing that I could have ever done. I think I might even make a point of sticking with that strategy for a while. It can really work wonders sometimes. I’m even starting to think that if more people would just shut the hell up and listen a little bit more often, the world could end up being a much better place than it is right now. One can always daydream a bit, right…? Let’s talk about the future of media. Skateboard media, specifically. But really, I could probably be talking about any print media right now. Here’s the bottom line: the job of the magazine is no longer to deliver news. Granted, that used to be our job. But, no more. Those days are long gone, never to return. We might as well accept the reality, and just deal with it. Because whether you like reality or not, at the end of the day, reality still happens. And dealing with it, ultimately, is the only sensible and logical option on the table. Denial, is not. News delivery happens these days on the internet. Namely, via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and content websites. “Content websites” basically being, online magazines. Of course, every skateboard company on the planet is trying with all their might to be “content media websites” in their own right… and that’s cool, as far as it goes. But the magic of a legitimate skateboard magazine is our staunch and determined independence from the money-grubbing machine of American Business. After all, I’m not here to sell you a spiffy skateboard; that’s our advertisers’ jobs, not mine. My job is to sell you skateboarding. While selling you the bare minimum of bloated bullshit along the way. You will start to see some key changes in how we utilize our Facebook and website presence. Those need to be fine-tuned for speedy news-delivery efficiency, and quite quickly. Honestly, it’s probably a bit overdue. But give it a minute folks, and be patient. Quality work, after all, does take quality time. While we’re rebuilding our web presence, we’ll also be troubleshooting the whole concept of offering ads on the web. We’ll be working with a few key, longtime advertisers to figure out what will get the very best bang for the bare minimum of advertising bucks. “Affordability” is a key concern in my world. With all these little micro-brands popping up everywhere (that are doing some really neat and novel new things along the way), we want to be the mag that supports these movements with very real, very concrete tactics and strategies. Offering affordable advertising on one of our web platforms is a big step in the right direction. That brings us back to the magazine. If the print magazine is no longer in the news delivery business, having ceded that core mission to the internet… then, the obvious question becomes, “Well, what in the world is the magazine for, then…?!” I hear that one a lot, actually. Not just in terms of our mag. But rather, print media in general. Here’s what the mission of The Magazine has become: engagement, enlightenment, and inspiration. In short: the magazine no longer delivers the daily news. The new mission of the magazine is to deliver timeless stories. I no longer think of it as a “magazine” at all, actually. I prefer to think of it as a small, periodical book. In a perfect world, The Magazine that we create today will be just as entertaining, just as enlightening, just as informative, and just as inspiring twenty-five years from now, as it will be next month when it hits the newsstand. Facebook posts are quick-hit news bits; here today, lived tomorrow, but largely forgotten next week. Our website content will probably be a little bit harder-hitting and memorable; my old blog, Everything Skateboarding, is serving as the functional and ideological template for this, for the time being. But, The Mag…? The print-paper plumper? That shit’s classic. Or rather, it should be. If I have my way, it will be. And in 25 years, somebody (hopefully) will walk up to my limping, haggard, broken body, and say “You know what? That mag was a damn good read!” That’s what I’m working toward over here. That’s the ultimate mission of The Mag. That’s when it’ll be worth its weight in gold. That’s when print will be relevant again. That means there will be some changes. One thing that I listened to this month, was having Stacy Lowery tell me that we need to drill down more, and dig deeper into our stories. So whereas Mikey really likes to put word and page limits on articles, I’ll probably be that guy that says, “Y’know what?! Give me another 200 words, dammit! I want to know everything there is to know about this subject…!” Especially on The Web, where space is literally limitless; in that case, why not drill down a bit, dig deeper, ask the hard-hitting questions, and demand some f’n answers? After all, isn’t that what “journalism” is supposed to be all about…? The other big thing that I’ve heard in the last month, is that The Mag needs more “Umpf”. I hear that one a lot, actually. That can mean several things, naturally enough. More passion? More feeling? More emotion? More badassery? More gusto? More mojo? Pick your poison… but at the end of the day, they’re all roughly synonymous anyway. Umpf, dude! We need more of that…! So now, we’re not just telling encouraging and enlightening stories anymore. Now, we’re telling them like we actually mean that shit. Thankfully, I’ve got a knack for that sort of storytelling. So I’m told, at least. My job, as I see it, is to bring that “Umpf” out of our staff as well. Let them get fired up about stuff, and then let the flames f’n fly. That’s my mantra these days, and I’m stickin’ to it. With all of the changes afoot, there is one thing that will remain steadfastly and determinedly constant. That constant is Mike’s original vision of the magazine. A magazine that covers, encourages, and supports all the various types, forms, and disciplines of skateboarding. We will still carry that vision forward, and we will continue to be the very last word in diversity, acceptance, inclusion, and personal empowerment. If anything, we’ll probably double down on that one. That pretty much sums it up, I think. Like I said before, I’m going to spend a lot of my time going forward, simply listening. If you’ve got something to say, hit me up. Don’t be scared. Stand up, stand tall, and for the love of God, speak your damn mind. Because now you know that, if all else fails, at least I’ve got an ear for ya. And I’m not above letting you yak at it ’til your heart’s content. Bests, as always-  Bud StratfordExecutive WhateverConcrete Wave Magazinebudstratford@aol.com