Mark Fisher

Some time ago I wrote about the need for high-end audio companies to constantly reinvent themselves: You may be receiving accolades for your latest and greatest product, but you'd also better be well along the path to developing its replacement. High-end audio is a field of constant change; no product remains supreme for long.

Stereophile strives to also meet this ideal. A few years ago a well-known hi-fi manufacturer told me, "Don't change a thing." Fortunately, I ignored his advice, but even if I hadn't, Stereophile would have changed. A year later, our lineup of writers had changed substantially, and for the better.

Stereophile's latest reinvention comes in the person of Mark Fisher, who has been super-active over the last year and a half in helping launch Stereophile's Chinese edition, promoting the international circulation of our English edition, and directing our Hi-Fi Shows. Mark took up residence here in Santa Fe on October 16, 1992, and as of November 15 took on my primary duties as Publisher of Stereophile.

Am I retiring? Not on your life! You'll continue to see my writing in this space as long as I'm associated with Stereophile, but from now on I'll be focusing on our company's activities as a whole—Hi-Fi '93, the three Schwann guides, Stereophile, and our recordings—rather than just Stereophile, the magazine. In truth, I've been working on the other things all along, but without Mark as Stereophile Publisher I've just been stretched too thin.

What does a publisher do? It varies from magazine to magazine, but during my tenure it's included development of editorial agendas, discussing products for review with manufacturers, reviewing equipment, negotiations with printers, solving problems with printers, review of the magazine's pages before shipment to the printer, review of ad placement, circulation development, acquisition of newsstand distributors, solicitation of hi-fi store sales outlets, arranging for recording musicians, supervision of lacquer-cutting for our LPs, negotiations with CD manufacturers, supervision of our advertising representatives, selection of and negotiations with Hi-Fi Show hotels, developing of promotional pieces and techniques for the Hi-Fi Shows and arranging for their seminar schedules, personnel management, and financial analysis.

I described this range of activities to Mark Fisher in some detail. He wanted the job anyway. He comes to the position with superb qualifications. His background in hi-fi publishing began back in 1982, when he became Ad Manager at Hi-Fi News & Record Review, the publication John Atkinson used to edit in England. Mark made that magazine the pre-eminent UK magazine in terms of ad sales, which allowed JA the resources to establish it as what was then the best hi-fi magazine in the English language. While at HFN/RR, Mark was instrumental in launching the Hi-Fi Show, held annually at Heathrow Airport's Penta Hotel.

Less than a year after JA joined Stereophile in 1986, we launched our own Hi-Fi Shows—with, surprise, Mark Fisher as Director. He has served in that capacity for every Show since, even when he had to take vacation time from other jobs. His other activities in the meantime have included public relations work for hi-fi companies, and a directorship at one of London's larger advertising agencies. For the last 18 months, in addition to our overseas circulation development, Mark has worked as Publisher for the Schwann record guides, giving them the managerial attention they've lacked for the last 10 or 15 years. Although Mark will undoubtedly be busy with his new role as Stereophile's Publisher, he will continue his role at our Hi-Fi Shows, while also persevering as Publisher of Schwann Spectrum and Schwann Opus (footnote 1). That's so he doesn't get bored. I wish him all the luck in the world in his new job.

I once thought this change might mean a more relaxing life for me, but I don't think it's in the cards. The ideal of constant reinvention has infected everyone at Stereophile—when I'm not coming up with new ideas for things we can do, John, Rebecca, Glen, Michelle, Richard, Toni, Mary, Bob, or Gordon will. The addition of Mark Fisher (footnote 2) will make my life, and Stereophile's, even busier.—Larry Archibald

Footnote 1: Stereophile owned and published the Schwann Guides to recorded music 1991–1997.—John Atkinson

Footnote 2: Mark Fisher left Stereophile in 1997. From 1999 through June 2009, he was publisher of The Absolute Sound.—John Atkinson