UNT Denton Live Magazine

It happened in a chance encounter above the clouds.  As often happens 30,000 feet above Earth when all electronics are stored, tray tables are up, and seats are in their upright positions, a bout of brainstorming ensued with a colleague sitting next to me.  From that conversation, Denton Live was born.

As with any newborn, Denton Live required special attention.  On precisely the same schedule as a healthy baby, Denton’s new magazine-style visitor guide was ready to walk.  This is where the baby versus Denton Live analogy ends, though.  You know those first wobbly steps of a one-year-old?  Denton Live skipped that phase altogether.  She took off strong, running full speed to become one of the most talked about new tourism ventures in Texas in 2005.

Magazine years are more like dogs’ than humans’ in the marketplace.  A dog’s life is measured at an approximate rate of seven-to-one years.  In other words, after 365 days have passed on our human calendar, my dog has matured seven years.  I don’t claim to understand why or how this is true.  It just is.  Magazines mature in much the same way.  When it comes to the printed world of collateral, however, I am better equipped to explain the flash of time as compared to our standard sunrise to sunset to sunrise timetable.

In a magazine’s life, the human psyche is the speed behind the clock’s hands.  We tire of the same-old-thing quickly and unconsciously.  As technology evolves seemingly at the speed of light, our attention spans become ever shorter.  New is old and comfortable is constraining as cooler, sexier “stuff” is introduced almost daily.  Kind of like Andy in “Toy Story,” we set Woody aside and spend our time with superior toys.  However, it doesn’t take years for us to move on to the next thing like in the movie.  We are distracted moment-to-moment.

In such an environment, magazines must stay in cutting-edge style to keep readers coming back.  Denton Live has already been through two major facelifts in the past nine years, including a branding overhaul.  And she is in the midst of a total makeover right this minute, the most dramatic since Denton Live’s birth in the sky that day back then.  Regular admirers will notice liposuction results at first glance.  Long, feature-style stories are slimming down to shorter, quippier blog-length segments.   And, considering that many readers now prefer Internet over print consumption, we are boldly going where only a few have gone before.  We are cloning Denton Live and distributing her content among myriad platforms and channels.  Denton Live will posit Denton in individually preferred, original, independent forms.  Yes, it’s edgy.  It’s genius.  And it’s all the brainchild of Denton Live’s new editor, Noah Bunn at the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism.

UNT journalism students have been producing Denton Live for six years after a brilliant move from the corporate publishing environment that dramatically enriched the magazine.  The move also allowed the entire publishing process to unfold in Denton with local businesses.

Noah’s student staff includes writers, photographers, videographers, public relations, and design experts.  At senior and graduate level, every one of the 15-member team will enter the professional realm through this Denton Live real-world experience.  Today’s world demands competence in ALL of these disciplines for these students to be competitive and viable in their chosen fields.  Noah’s leadership in Denton Live’s makeover is structuring both the magazine and the staff to meet the demands of savvy, distracted consumers.

“If we expect our staff to convey the Original Independent Denton brand through story and content, they have got to understand it,” Noah said.  He’s right, of course.

So, Noah and I devised a Denton immersion.  We ate homemade ice-cream at Beth Marie’s, walked all over downtown, peeked into the Ron English Brandit-Popmart exhibit at UNT on the Square, took pictures from LSA’s rooftop patio, ate pizza from Mellow Mushroom, and got one-on-one time with one of Denton’s hot bands, Seryn, at Dan’s Silverleaf.  This Denton Live team now “gets us” in a more intimate way than any team before them, and they will create content from their wells of real experiences.

Denton Live is nine years old in human years, 63 in dog years, and much older than that in magazine years.  She’s worn her age well, but the clock has stopped for the moment.  When she steps out on the runway this June, Denton Live will be reborn.