40 Years of Stereophile: What Happened When Page 3
1985: At 112 pages, Issue No.71 (Vol.8 No.1) breaks the previous record, only to be topped in turn by the 136-page Issue No.72, published in May, which both features the first installment of Tony Cordesman's "Long Year's Journey into Wire" and sees another cover-price increase, to $4.95 (where it stays through December 1993).
"Down With Flat!" proclaims JGH in the August issue (Vol.8 No.4), whose cover features an Infinity speaker being adored by Larry's almost human dog, Ralph (later to be featured on Stereophile's first Test CD), and is, I believe, the first issue to be copy-edited by Richard Lehnert. Apart from a short hiatus in the mid '90s, Richard has edited every word you have read in Stereophile, right up to the present day.
The fall witnesses the infamous challenge in which Bob Carver claims he can match the sound of his inexpensive solid-state amplifier to an expensive Conrad-Johnson monoblock (Vol.8 No.6). It is also in fall 1985 that Steve Watkinson suggests to Larry Archibald that it might be a good idea to persuade John Atkinson to abandon all he's achieving at HFN/RR in the UK and take the editorial helm of Stereophile.
On the other side of the Atlantic, July 1985 sees the introduction of the HFN/RR Test CD, co-produced by JA and manufactured by Denon in Japan.
1986: The year begins with John Atkinson sharing a ride back from the Las Vegas CES to New Mexico with Larry Archibald and his then girlfriend (now wife), Laura Chancellor. During the 13 hours it takes to reach Santa Fe, they reach agreement on the role JA is to play, when JA is to start (May 1), and have mapped out a strategic plan for Stereophile. Other than a delay of a year going to a larger format, for the next eight years Stereophile follows that plan almost to the letter.
Vol.9 No.2 (Issue No.80) sees the first appearance of Thomas J. Norton on the masthead. Formerly editor and publisher of StereOpus, Tom's first piece for Stereophile is a report from the Winter CES.
May sees the planned arrival of John Atkinson in Santa Fe as the magazine's third full-time employee (not counting Larry A.), and the publication of the largest-ever issue, the 164-page Vol.9 No.4, which, not coincidentally, is the first Stereophile to be perfect-bound (ie, with a spine).
JA's first issue is Vol.9 No.5 (August), while his first review for Stereophile is of the California Audio Labs Tempest CD player. The October issue sees him preparing "Recommended Components" for the very first time, which he continues to do today. The year ends with a circulation of around 25,000, an annual subscription rate of $24, and a 180-page issue!
1987: The first issue of Stereophile's 25th-anniversary year begins with a tribute to J. Gordon Holt by Ed Dell and, remembering JA's involvement in the launch of the HFN/RR Show five years earlier, a question to JA from Larry Archibald and Ken Nelson: "Should Stereophile start an audio show?" His answer is "Yes!" and the debut of the HI-FI Show takes place at Santa Monica's Bay View Plaza Hotel in March, with a second installment at Manhattan's Omni Park Central Hotel in October (the weekend just before the stock-market crash on "Black Monday," in which the Dow Jones experienced its worst one-day percentage loss in history—22.6%). Helping Stereophile's staff run the Shows is JA's erstwhile ad manager from his HFN/RR days and the manager of the London Show, Mark Fisher.
The August issue sees Richard Lehnert join the full-time staff as Assistant Editor, charged with creating an authoritative music section, which he does starting with the October issue. The August issue also announces that, from now on, Stereophile will be published monthly, which it has been to this day. Inevitably, the subscription rate has to be raised, to $35.
On the writer side of things, Tony Cordesman leaves but Peter W. Mitchell and Martin Colloms join, and Lewis Lipnick becomes the magazine's "Musician in Residence."