From Santa Fe to New York

The August issue of Stereophile, number 247, is the very last to be produced out of the "City Different" in the "Land of Enchantment" (Santa Fe, New Mexico). Known for its energetic mix of Native American and Latino cultures, its geographic mix of high desert and mountains, its 300 days of clear blue, cerulean skies, its opera and chamber music seasons, and not forgetting that most important culinary question—"red or green"—the oldest established city in the US is not the first place that comes to mind in the magazine business. But, after publishing 39 issues of Stereophile out of rainy Pennsylvania since he founded the magazine in 1962, J. Gordon Holt fell in love with the Southwest and moved out here in 1978.

It's fair to say that the logistics of the 2000-mile move did Gordon in—Issue 40 of the magazine, the first to be produced in Santa Fe, saw him writing about the loss of his test gear while in transit and coping with the acoustic trials and tribulations of setting up a new listening room. JGH published just seven issues in Santa Fe before selling Stereophile to Larry Archibald at the end of 1981. Larry plunged into publishing with the same zeal that a tube amplifier fan discovers a stash of NOS Telefunken 12AX7s. He published and, with Gordon's help, edited 36 issues between February 1982, when No.47 hit the newsstands, and June 1986, when Larry lured away the editor of England's leading audio magazine, Hi-Fi News & Record Review, to take Stereophile's editorial helm.

I arrived at the Albuquerque airport in May 1986 as the magazine's fulltime employee No.3, bringing with me three suitcases, a box each of the 200 CDs and 200 LPs without which I couldn't function as a human being, another box with my Linn Sondek LP12, and a Koetsu Rosewood cartridge in my pocket. Since then, I have produced 165 issues of Stereophile including the one you hold in your hands. Issue 83, cover-dated August 1986, was my first Stereophile.

But this era is over. Immediately after shipping the Quark files representing this issue's content to the printer, I am stuffing a U-Haul trailer with my audio components, my computers and test gear, and two boxes each holding 200 CDs and LPs without which I can't function as a human being, and, accompanied by a dog and two cats, I am heading east on a 2050-mile drive. From the September 2000 issue onward, Stereophile will be produced out of emap usa's offices on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, and I will be editing the book as a strap-hanging commuter, battling the R train each morning and evening.

Looking back at those 165 issues, they contained 40,478 pages, of which 22,303 were editorial—an editorial percentage of 54.4%, which ain't too shabby. When I was doing my usual moaning this month about not having anything to write about, webmaster Jon Iverson asked me how far would those 165 issues reach if laid end-to-end? Of the Stereophiles I produced, 80 were full-sized books at 10.25" high, 85 were digest-sized at 8.4" high. Laid down one after the other, they would reach just over 32 yards. That gets me out of the parking lot of Stereophile's old office behind the Bank of Santa Fe, but no further.

Okay, how about if all of the individual pages in those 165 issues were laid end-to-end? Now we're motorvating: the pages would reach nearly 6 miles, to the closest I-25 intersection. Yes, it's not very far, but at least I've gone from the parking lot entrance to the freeway!

Think man, think. Each issue's editorial pages contain words—a lot of them (over 75,000 per issue, on average). What if I dug a Linotype machine out of a printing museum and spun out all the text printed in those 165 issues in one long string of hot-metal type (footnote 1)? Each page of the pre-1994 issues contained just over 232" of type, 390" from January 1994 onward. Starting with the August 1986 issue and ending up with this one, I have been responsible for 104 miles of words! I'm well past Albuquerque and on I-40 heading toward Tucumcari.

I still have 1946 miles to go to reach New York. Best I give up this overstretched metaphor and take the opportunity to give my thanks to all the hitherto unsung staff who have helped publish Stereophile these past 14 years: to technical, music, and senior editors Richard Lehnert, Roberts Baird and Harley, Tom Norton, Wes Phillips, and Jonathan Scull; to managing editors Debbie Starr and Polly Summar; to art directors Ted Rose, Michael Motley, Daniel Bish, and Natalie Brown Baca; to cover photographer Eric Swanson; to production managers Suzanne Vilmain, Rebecca Willard, Diane Harris, Martha Payne, and Tamra Fenstermaker; to production staff Janice St. Marie, Andrew Main, Kristen Weitz, Anne Peacocke, Pip Tannenbaum, Kathy Huff, Susan Lamden, and Mindii Nelson; to the late Mort Lieberman, who typeset the magazine until we went DTP in 1995; to administrative support staff Ralph Johnson, Gretchen Grogan, Jerry Jones, Maura Rieland, Shelene Bridge, Tricia Ware Colville, Steven Stoner, Mark Fisher, Debbie Fisher, Toni Bubick, Gail Anderson, Danny Sandoval, and the late Jennifer Salazar; to advertising sales staff Ken Nelson, Laura Jean LoVecchio, Keith Pray, Brian Georgi, and Joan Giannola; to Jackie Augustine, John Gourlay, Lynn Goldstein-Garguilo, and Diana Gonzales of emap usa; to Tom Gillett, whose sales and marketing expertise played a major role in bringing what we had to say to the widest possible audience; to the more than 120 writers whose prose has helped Stereophile reach its preeminent position; to our "Chief Tester" for so many years, J. Gordon Holt; and to all the others who worked long and arduous hours to get those 165 issues out the door and into your mailbox.

But I reserve my special gratitude to two people with whom working has been a sustained and rewarding pleasure: to Larry Archibald, who may occasionally have had doubts about what I was putting into his and my magazine, but who never second-guessed me in all the years we worked together until we sold the book to Petersen, now emap usa, in June 1998; and to Richard Lehnert, who expertly copyedited every one of the words in that 104-mile string of type!

And welcome to the new members of Stereophile's NY-based editorial team: Cathy Cacchione, the erstwhile art director of Audio magazine; managing editor Nerissa Dominguez Vales, who joins us from Manhattan's Whitney Museum of American Art; and (returning to the fold) Pip Tannenbaum, who will be handling advertising production. And with editorial continuity provided by our superb team of writers, as well as by Jonathan Scull, Robert Baird, Richard Lehnert and myself, I see a bright future for an invigorated Big Apple-based Stereophile!

Footnote 1: When I joined Hi-Fi News & Record Review in September 1976, the magazine was produced on a sheet-fed press using hot-metal type. That was a quality product. Using a sheetfed press meant you didn't get those wavy paper edges typical of a web press, and the metal type gave a palpable impression on the paper that we have all forgotten about during the multiple printing paradigm shifts that have taken place since the hot-metal days. When I retire, I'm going to figure out how to drive a Linotype machine from Quark XPress, go back to printing on a slow, old sheetfed press, and get the best of both worlds!