Great Idea!... (It Will Never Last)

Letter from the editor


Published:

It was 20 years ago today. No, not Sgt. Pepper teaching the band to play. This May marks Hour Detroit magazine’s 20th anniversary. In 1996, according to the premiere issue’s “Letter From the Editor,” the publishers of Hour decided it was “about time” (get it?) to “raise the bar on regionally focused magazines.” 

I remember seeing the first issue. A bunch of us creative types worked at a local ad agency’s custom publishing division. When Hour hit the office, its oversized format and glossy pages certainly commanded attention. 

Artsy types gushed over the photos, fantasizing about portraying local arts and entertainment rather than commissioning spark plug art or directing “sexy” SUV photo shoots. Editorial type harbored similar thoughts (writing about something other than spark plugs or trying to make SUVs sound sexy).

Then the realists weighed in. Detroit once had two city magazines, and one folded in the late ’80s. Could the folks at Hour convince enough advertisers to build custom-size ads? Would the magazine even fit on newsstands? Was the metro Detroit audience sophisticated enough to support such a publication?

Our collective verdict: “Great idea! Beautiful execution! It will never last.”

Good thing nobody held us to our predictions: Fast-forward 20 years, and a number of those Doubting Thomas types now work here at Hour Media. 

That said, we didn’t want to make a huge deal out of 20 years (talk to us in five or  maybe 30 years). But we did want to look back at some of the issues and personalities that have caught metro Detroit’s collective attention over the years (here).

As for me? I’ve got to admit, writing about topics like the rooftop cabins atop the El Moore building (here) is much more satisfying than trying to make a truck sound sexy. Really. — Steve Wilke

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