DEAREST EXPLORE READER
I get asked all the time about this magazine and what it “IS”. Who is the reader? What does it talk about? What is the content like?
No matter how many times I’ve ever been asked this question, I’ve never been able to really answer it very well. Most publishers would know immediately what their content covers, who their core demographic is, their ages, and the specific topics that are covered. You’ve got car magazines, and money magazines, and travel magazines, and women’s magazines. There’s a magazine for every niche that you can possibly imagine.
And then there’s EXPLORE.
The true story behind EXPLORE is that I started it in the spring of ‘05 out of necessity, honestly. I was recently unemployed and had two young kids at home. I was broke as you can be. In a moment of desperation I convinced myself that with a very minimalist hobby of writing that I had, and with some relationships having grown up here, I could whittle up enough business to make an actual magazine. You know…so I could EAT and not be homeless.
So that’s what I did. I begged and pleaded some friends to become clients, and then just like that, EXPLORE was born. However, I really had no idea what to fill the pages with for content. So I did what everyone does – I just sorta bumbled around for a while. I knew I didn’t want to cover “hard news”, cause, well, that’s boring. There were plenty of “visitor” type publications then, so I didn’t really want to talk to tourists. Business stuff? Snooze.
Instead, I decided that I dreamt to make a publication that would just make you FEEL something. I decided that I didn’t care if I made you laugh, cry, or just ponder…if I could do one of those things each month, I figured I was a success.
I’ve had mixed success I suppose. I frequently say that some articles that I think are absolute home runs receive very little feedback, if any. Then I’ll run an article that I think is ho-hum and my email blows up with positive feedback. I’ve learned that there’s no science behind much of it.
So back to the question – “What IS EXPLORE?” I suppose my best answer is that you have in your hands the product of 15 years of trial and error, of late nights, and a single dad with a dream. It’s a magazine for stay at home moms, visitors from out of town, super stiff businessmen, and younger hipster types. It’s for grandmothers and money-hungry 30 year olds, and struggling single parents. It’s for every set of eyeballs in this county, and all it really wants to do is just make you FEEL. Something. Anything. But I just hope we produce something that you might remember and think about while sipping coffee the next morning.
I figure that the world is overrun with “information”. We all know that you hold a device in your pocket that can bring you the collective knowledge of mankind’s history with the push of a few buttons. It’s pretty crazy to think about sometimes. If you want to know about money or business or sewing or boats or space travel, you can bring up more information than you could ever read. However, the world is also entirely lacking in real emotion.
So I suppose that’s the “niche” of EXPLORE.
Take this issue for example. We have a story about Stan Leech, Athletic Director for BISD. He was also my basketball coach growing up. He has made Boerne a perennial year in and year out powerhouse throughout the State. He retired from coaching a little while back. So we tell the story of his life, not about the awards or championships…but from the perspective of “why” he does what he does. His answer: relationships. I love it.
Samuel Smith rattles on about relationships/life/choices. I love his writings. They are deep, frequently dark, and they bite hard sometimes. When proofing his articles, I frequently copy/paste out paragraphs and send them to friends as some of his words can stop you in your tracks and make you read them a few times over and over as you think to yourself, “Damn, that’s true.”
Casey Bonham is one of our newer additions, and I’m loving her pieces. They are stories of “survival”. Not about being lost in the woods or a sinking boat, but they are about surviving trauma. Abuse. Addictions. I always so enjoy reading these articles of horrible experiences, and then seeing the smiling photos of the subject on the facing page. If you ever think your story is over and you’ll never recover, this one is for you. She’ll show you otherwise.
And then, of course, we have Old Timer. Always good for a chuckle, Old Timer has fast become one of the more popular characters to ever submit for us. Some are angry, some are poignant…but I’m pretty sure every one of them will cause you to at least chuckle at some point. Railing against local government probably doesn’t sound too funny, but trust me, it is. Give him a read, nod your head as you chuckle, and then send it to your favorite City Councilman.
Matt Kersh has been doing our music articles for a while now, and they’re great fun. Focusing almost exclusively on local musicians, I always enjoy these as the subjects aren’t famous people. They’re not selling out the AT&T Center. No, they’re playing acoustic shows on Tuesday nights at Salvador Dobbs for little more than tips and a free beer. I find it fun because these people really appreciate the spotlight of the article, and their passion for their craft just drips off the page. It’ll make you want to dust off the old guitar in your closet and stretch your fingers a bit.
And there’s just a lot more in EXPLORE than I could cover right now. With 15 years of publishing behind us, we have run hundreds upon hundreds of articles covering literally every topic imaginable. And to this day, the topic isn’t the most important part of our decision to run an article or not. It’s simply “Will this elicit an emotion from someone?”
And I hope we’ve done that for you at some point.
I’ll never become a media powerhouse that is conquering the world of publishing and churning out zillion-dollar magazines. I know this. I’m sure that when I started doing this as a much younger man, I dreamed of perhaps becoming the “next big thing” and being wealthy and living in the huge Cordillera Ranch home. But now, as I sit in my home office of my very humble home, with those same kids being teenagers now, and with a helluva lot of life experience in my back pocket, I think I’ve come all the way back around to just being a simple guy that is blessed to do what I do and I appreciate it so much more now.
So I hope that I can make you laugh at something stupid that Old Timer says. Or perhaps you also share a snippet of Samuel’s article with a friend. I hope that you wipe a tear as you learn of Casey’s subjects traumas and ultimate healing. Because, just as it was 15 years ago, if I can make you “feel” something, then I’m as successful as I ever hoped to be.
And that’s good enough for me.
Welcome to February. May you enjoy this issue of EXPLORE, may you feel an emotion that lifts your day and your heart, and may you take a moment to tell me about it. Trust me, it means the world to me.