Saying Farewell To Our 50th Anniversary Year—And Embracing Change In The Magazine Business
Aside from the usual celebrations this time of year, we congratulate ourselves on the end of our 50th anniversary year. Pictorial Life was launched in the spring of 1965. We changed the name five years later to Gold Coast. This was before—long before—we had magazines in Boca Raton, Palm Beach, Jupiter and Stuart. And it was almost 40 years before we got into the software business, with the Magazine Manager program, which now has 5,300 users in 12 countries.
That last development is rather complex these days. Mark McCormick, who launched that enterprise, was age minus one in 1965. That company now has 75 people worldwide. With so many magazines out there, it is hard to prove a claim that we are as advanced in the combination of print and digital editions as any magazine around—at least any regional magazine in our size category. We have found, after more than 10 years of trial and error, that the digital side of the business is beginning to pay off. We recently got a large advertising contract that was for our digital editions only.
But as the big national publishers are learning, a strong digital presence also boosts the old-fashioned print editions. The combination, properly tuned, is larger than the sum of its parts. Thus, it is that this 50th year is also the most successful in the history of Gulfstream Media Group. And the fourth quarter of this year, which still has a way to go as this is written, is shattering all previous sales records.
It was hard to imagine, 50 years ago, that presenting the written word would undergo such a revolution in the decades ahead. We can't remember the company even owning an electric typewriter when we arrived in 1970, much less a computer system, which can put you in touch with our people up and down the coast, and even in India and Hungary (we have one person there), faster than it took to type this paragraph.
History has been in a sprint, and not just the last half century. A historian has noted that George Washington could move around no faster in the late 1700s than Julius Caesar in the first century, B.C. And yet Abraham Lincoln, born not long after Washington died, could get from Illinois to Washington, D.C. in just two days a half century later.
Still, it is close to incredible that the first story we wrote for this magazine was about the Mai-Kai restaurant, celebrating its 15th anniversary in 1971. We had been there before, around 1966, when we came to Florida to do a story for Philadelphia magazine on a retired newspaper publisher who was drinking his days away in Palm Beach. This was only five years later, and when we met Bob Thornton, one of the brothers who founded the Mai-Kai, we told him we had been in his old place, on a country road, surrounded by open fields. “There isn't any old place,” he said, sitting in his restaurant on a busy stretch of Federal Highway. “We've always been right here.”
What would George Washington think? As he left his chopper with the valet.
- Bernard McCormick