As the second monthly edition of Creative Loafing (CL) hit stands Sept. 14, readers are still guessing as to what’s to come of the new prints and online approach.
Since 1972, CL has released alternative weekly prints for free to Atlantans. Throughout the city, copies were dropped into the well-known green boxes that sit on the city’s most populated street corners. At varying days of the week throughout the paper’s production, copies were picked up and passed around.
On Aug. 17, 2017, Editor-in-Chief Carlton Hargro wrote an editor’s note in the front pages of The Ultimate Wing Smackdown issue stating that CL was saying goodbye to weekly releases. The publication would focus on moving into a monthly distribution cycle with an online platform to back it all up.
The weekly to monthly output for Atlanta’s longest-running alternative news, music, culture and arts source speaks volumes to the nature of the digital age’s influence on print publications. Readers and fans are waiting in anticipation for CL’s changes to come to light and high expectations are brewing.
Along with the announcement of the paper’s monthly transition, Hargro wrote, “While that means you’ll be getting your dose of CL in print less frequently, it also means you’ll be getting a bigger, better and bolder version of the paper you know and love on a regular basis — and much more of us on the web (more on that later).”
CL’s Music Editor Chad Radford gave a fill on what that might look like in the months and issues to come. As technology’s role becomes more evident in media each day, Radford lets us know how CL is preparing to stay steady amongst the tide.
Tell me a little bit about the transition itself with Creative Loafing.
Radford: We think of the print issue as kind of like a trophy. So we have all been working hard to make the print product as strong as it can be. Honestly, even though we’ve switched to monthly, it doesn’t feel like the workflow has changed that much. We are really pushing hard to get more content online and what it has done is kind of relaxed the pace at which we do things. Things can feel like you’re on a treadmill at times. There’s always another print issue going on, so expanding it into a monthly release makes us curate more and spend more time editing.
What kind of things are being slowed down at CL for more content?
Radford: We have time now to really sit and kind of question everything. Everything is not a rush job. From structure to what’s being said, it gives myself more time to discuss with the other writers. We can do more because we have more time to reflect on what we’re doing. We can take our time and do it right.
What kind of things will we see in the structure of CL’s music section?
Radford: For online, I think what you’ll see is more programmed content. I started doing a podcast called Atlanta Untrapped, which is a hip-hop podcast. On Mondays, I have New Music Mondays, which is where we roll out a whole bunch of music that is either premiering at that moment or has come out in the last week. There’s kind of this charge where artists come at us without any warning, and it just doesn’t do anybody any good [to post it] because we don’t have any time to respond to it. So with New Music Mondays, it allows that time for us to think about it. I’ve done three so far, and as we move forward, I think you’ll see the writing become more substantial because that’s sort of the goal with it.
Are you still doing Live From the Archives?
Radford: Yeah, those are working out really well for us. Along with the podcasts being available on the website and on SoundCloud, I think we will work getting onto iTunes soon. There’s an app called Stitcher, which is like a podcast app, and we’re working to get it on there. I’m pushing to get stickers made and with all of that we could get [CL] into things like A3C Festival from that kind of stuff in the way that we’re a sponsor of it because of the content we’re able to create and manage.
So the goal is to get more concentrated on what’s going on and then curate an expansion of it?
Radford: Right. And Tony Paris, who is an old [music] editor, worked here in the 80’s and 90’s, and possibly the 70’s, but he’s been around Creative Loafing for decades. He was here at the peak of the alt-week industry and now he’s coming back for a weekly column called High Frequency. The first one is coming out on Wednesday, Sept. 20.
Do you see more challenges ahead or just more opportunities?
Radford: Well, there are challenges because, like I said, I started doing a podcast, and that’s an unchartered territory because speaking and writing are two different things for me. There are lots of times where I kind of fumbled here and there, but there’s a certain charm to that. Giving myself more of a “podcast” pace and tone is something I’ll be working on moving forward. There’s always going to be a challenge with technology and upping things by finding new music, which, you know, is always out there.
How are the monthly print issues being dispersed? Are they still going to be in the CL boxes?
Radford: I don’t know how often they distribute them, but I know I’ve seen a couple of [boxes] get re-upped since the original drop date of the current issue: The Ultimate Wing Smackdown. The Best of ATL will come out, and it’s going to be thicker.
What do you mean by thicker?
Radford: Yeah, that’s another thing. People complained about how thin they got over the years. So, it’s going to get thicker. [The prints] have gotten glossy covers, a re-design, and you’ll see how CL is at the bottom of the page with the new blue barrier. It’s all good.