An Ode to Surfer Magazine
I saw the news first (& ironically) on Instagram from friend’s posts…
“RIP Surfer Mag”
My heart sank and I immediate pulled a few issues I had saved out of my archives.
One of my very first editorial experiences I ever had in my career was interning at Surfer Magazine 2006-2007 under the direction of Chris Mauro, Editor-in-Chief at the time. I worked directly with mostly the Associate Editor, Alex Wilson, who taught me the finer things of transcribing an interview—I don’t think I’ll ever forget transcribing a two-hour long interview with pros whose first language was definitely not English. I was absolutely clueless at the time, but just came to work each and every day perpetually star-struck and stoked to be helping and watching these guys produce monthly mags …the one I would salivate for arriving in my mailbox, or would take a few extra copies from the staff.
I got to know the front desk lady, who was always so kind when I’d arrive every morning…the lines of glossy surfboards standing tall in the office—mostly guns. I’d stare at each of them trying to memorize the dimensions, wondering what kind of waves these beastly boards were for…I got to know each of the editors and where they were from and why they started surfing…they were a quiet bunch mostly, but it was definitely a boys club.
I always looked up to Chris Mauro’s writing—he was the first person at Surfer I spoke with and the one who brought me on as an intern. I was taking my first journalism course at Saddleback College and Professor Mike Reed wanted us to interview someone in the profession you wanted to be. I wanted to interview someone at Surfer Mag and always knew who I wanted to interview, but was too intimidated. I asked Prof. Reed and he said, “go for the jugular.” My first lesson in journalism. He also told me to tell Chris that I was from Reed’s class.
Chris’ response: “Reed rules! I took his feature writing class. Yea come on in!”
I made friends with the advertising team—naturally, they are some of the friendliest folk, and met a fellow intern who became one of my best friends. We’d go for a surf together and get together for taco Tuesdays, sushi Thursdays and various party-esque holidays…I think I have a photo somewhere of all our costumes.
I also attended Surfer Poll a bunch. :) The Academy Awards for surfing at the Honda Center for a long time…standing within 5 feet of Andy Irons, Keala Kennelly, Greg Long…going to the bathroom and running into Carissa Moore…being able to name each and every surfer at the awards and watching their interactions while I sipped wine to placate my star-struck nerves…
The surf industry has experienced massive shifts almost on a monthly basis. It started with Transworld Surf in San Diego and then, who would’ve thought that Surfing Magazine would ever go under? Not once did I think that Surfer Mag, the O.G. surf magazine, would get the boot. It pains me to see—honestly, this was why I pursued journalism as my college degree. I wanted to write for a surf magazine, I wanted to write stories about women chargers, rippers, shredders…to bring to light that there’s more to a surfer girl than her bikini bod and “epic” bottom turns. Then I saw Surfer created Salted and it looked so tempting, I wanted to write for them so badly, but my story ideas and pitches never seemed to fly.
Within those years, it was when I realized it didn’t matter what you knew, it was, just as in most things, who you knew. I was shy and still am, but I’ve definitely gotten better about my shyness. I would constantly rack my brain for that elusive, can’t-refuse feature story for me to write for Surfer, but one of two things would happen: they didn’t like it or they liked it and had someone else write it.
Surfer Mag editors eventually stuck me in archives and I learned a lot about surf history by pouring over the old issues from its very FIRST one published by John Severson called “The Surfer” in 1960…an issue that was wrapped in plastic and only available in a certain editor’s office.
It wasn’t until I interned for Surfline that I actually got to write some stuff (thank you, Darlene Conolly <3). When I started my long freelance career, my editors often type-casted me as the “surfer writer,” with which I had ZERO issue. Despite the fact that I never was published in Surfer or Salted, I got to write about the Nike Lowers Pro and the Hurley Lowers Pro and the U.S. Open of Surfing for several years in a row. I also got to photograph it and got to rub elbows with some of the surf industry’s most legendary photogs…Jeremiah Klein, Dan Merkel and Aaron Lieber…to name a few
This life is a journey, shit happens for a reason and though it really saddens me to see Surfer Mag go, I know that necessity is the mother of invention. Surfers need a publication to froth over…it can’t just all be TikTok, YouTube and Instagram…this is a time of reinvention and creativity. Something will come of this craziness. I can only hope that Surfer Mag pulls a musician thing and has a “comeback” tour or a revamp.
If they do, you can bet your balls I’ll be pitching to them.
I’m not sure why exactly print continues to suffer…since 2009, why publications, ones we trust and know, are being pushed aside for digital platforms and sketchy ads proclaiming the “true story?” Why does fake news thrive and those seasoned pros, like Surfer Magazine, get thwarted?
In essence, I’m sure there are things and conversations the general public wasn’t privy to, who knows? I do know that I am forever grateful for my many experiences working with Surfer Magazine. This experienced pushed me into the journalism and writing realm and that has served me well to this day. Thanks, Surfer and Chris Mauro.
Though back then it was a boys club, nowadays, I love watching how the magazine and the industry in general are evolving into just a “club” and that is what I had always hoped for.
R.I.P, Surfer Mag.