Publisher's Letter: In Remembrance Of John Broderick
There are a lot of magazines out there. Estimates of city/regionals range into the thousands in a genre that hardly existed 50 years ago. Which means there are a lot of people writing, selling or designing magazines that are aimed at specific communities. Very few of these people can claim to have invented anything new. Almost all of the local magazines run the same kinds of stories and carry pages of people enjoying themselves at social functions, usually for a worthy cause. If one organization finds a gimmick that sells, such as “Top Docs,” others are quick to follow. There aren’t many people who have actually come up with a fresh idea. John Broderick was one of them.
Broderick, who died on July 31 at age 89, was in a difficult position in the late 1980s. He had been hired to run a dying local magazine. It was called The Best. It had been launched by Yolanda Maurer, the same woman who had started this magazine 20 years before. And, as she did with her first magazine, she sold The Best as soon as it started to look successful. The new owners were not magazine people and lived elsewhere. Without Ms. Maurer running it, their magazine quickly declined. They hired John Broderick to try to save their investment. He had begun his career in TV advertising, then developed and eventually sold his own publication geared to the swimming pool industry.
By the late 1980s the owners of The Best were weary of losing money. They basically walked away. John decided to put out one last issue that might survive as its own entity. The idea he came up with was “Who’s Who In Charity & the Arts.” There were some charity registers around, and several South Florida magazines had long featured people at charity balls. But nobody had devoted an entire glossy issue to the charities and people behind them. He sold it as an annual publication; it did not break anybody’s advertising budget. Charities felt that they had to be in the book to be taken seriously in the world of philanthropy, and prestige advertisers wanted to support the organizations associated with their wealthy customers.
The concept worked well enough that John repeated it for several years, barely making money but managing to keep prestigious advertisers using a magazine format. It was just long enough for us (after a nine-year legal battle) to regain control of Gold Coast, and use the concept as our first comeback issue in 1991. Broderick stayed aboard as associate publisher for several years. By the mid-1990s, he had the satisfaction of not only seeing his concept grow in our pages, but year by year appear in an increasing number of city/regional magazines.
Today, even long established magazines such as Philadelphia, New York, Washingtonian and Texas Monthly run variations on the concept. It is a rare regional magazine that does not have annual philanthropy features. Many list pages of charities and their calendars of events, exactly the same as Broderick did in the 1980s. Ironically, our annual philanthropy presentation appears in this issue, 30 years after it all began. Well done, J. B.
On the topic of innovation, web editor Holly Gambrell salutes eight South Florida companies (page 42) who have come up with creative ways to use their businesses to combat one of the growing problems of our times. They are doing their parts to support efforts to preserve our environment, especially from the effects of toxic pollution on the ocean and waterways. The timing could not be better, as we are in one of the worst years of toxic algae blooms, which kill marine life, and increasingly threaten the humans who share their space.