Julie Wilson has a story to tell. Several of them, actually; maybe even hundreds.
And she plans to start telling them July 1 when she launches a statewide magazine called … what else … Story.
The 96-page quarterly magazine, to be available by subscription and for sale at bookstores and other retail outlets across the state, will tell stories about the people, places and things that shape Kentucky. Not the run-of-the-mill stories, the long-time journalist insists; rather, stories that no one else tells, in ways that no one else tells them.
Stories such as the one about Ashley Brock, a top model discovered on Facebook who has traveled the world but still calls the tiny town of Helton in Eastern Kentucky home, finding her way back there every chance she gets.
…Her Kentucky roots run deep, as deep as her ever-apparent Kentucky lilt. “The first time I went to New York, they said ‘You can drop the accent,” she laughed, as if she has a choice in the matter. “For some, it’s either like nails on a chalkboard, or they say, ‘Let me just hear you talk.’
The pride she has for her home is as strong as her accent, yet the controversy surrounding the land on which she lives doesn’t go unnoticed. But for Brock, she sees the glass as half full. “Yes, there is mountaintop removal, but the ATV park is now one of the most beautiful places in Kentucky,” she said.
- Excerpt from Story
Or stories such as the one examining the city of Bowling Green’s uncanny knack for turning out highly successful musical talent. Or the one about jewelry maker Emily Maynard of Bloomfield just outside Louisville, whose jewelry has become as much a part of the “red carpet” tradition in Hollywood as the actors and actresses who wear her unique pieces.
“Story celebrates the richness of Kentucky’s fabric … sometimes leather, sometimes lace, but always in fashion,” as the magazine’s media kits describes.
“We’re looking for stories from east to west, no matter where they are, small town, big town … we’re looking for those stories that aren’t really told, under-the-radar-type articles about things going on in the state that aren’t just related to horses and the bourbon industry and sports,” says Wilson, a self-described proud Kentuckian.
That’s not to say Wilson and her stable of freelance writers won’t cover Kentucky’s Big Three. But when they do, even the stories on those topics will reflect her desire to go behind the scenes.
“It will be very editorially driven,” she says. “We spend a good amount of time trying to dig deep and find the unique points of each story.”
“We will cover the horse industry, bourbon and basketball, but we will cover them from a different angle,” adds Laurel Cassidy, the magazine’s advertising director and only other staffer besides Wilson. “When it’s Derby time, we may cover the mint farm that makes the mint julep, not the obvious story about the horses. We’re not denying that that’s part of our culture, we’re just taking a back-door approach.”
When all is said and done, Wilson says, “people will know that this is like a Vanity Fair that you pick it up to look for in-depth articles that you read for the pleasure of reading.”
In addition to those in-depth articles, Story will have several “departments” in each issue – a section called “With These Hands” with stories about Kentucky artisans; a parenting-style column called “Born and Raised”; and a column about Kentucky ex-patriots who’ve moved on to do unique things in other parts of the country. Philanthropic topics will also be covered regularly.
As with Story’s editorial content, the look and feel of the magazine also will be anything but routine. High-quality, glossy paper and “rich” photography throughout will combine to make the magazine sophisticated and edgy, Wilson says; a “form of art,” Cassidy adds.
What the design of Story won’t do, however, is “scream Kentucky.”
“The title is obviously Story and the tagline is ‘Kentucky has one to tell.’ That’s the only way you’re going to know right off that it’s about our state because we’re not trying to throw it in your face,” Wilson says.
Something she just had to do
With nearly two decades in journalism, Wilson learned the art of storytelling while working for several lifestyle magazines.
“I think for me, I have to write. It’s my passion. And sharing stories that I think can either help people find joy or pleasure or that just bring up issues that need to be addressed, that’s always been my thing,” she says
Further, “It’s my passion to not only tell stories, but to find them. That means talking to people about who they are and where they come from. To me, it’s like reading a book but in real life,” she says.
Wilson is also an avid magazine reader who takes every opportunity to curl up with a good one.
“At any given time, there are 200 magazines in my living room, bedroom and office,” she says. “It’s my medium, my niche.”
So when she decided to step out and create her own, “it was almost like I just had to do it.”
Still, some people, including her husband Dave who tried to convince her to go the online route, questioned the validity of launching a print publication at a time when many industry experts and others lament that “print is dead.”
“It’s funny,” she says, “people say print is dead. But I just read this morning something about Food Network’s magazine they just started has doubled its circulation in a year. It’s not dead; it’s just a different medium.”
Besides, adds friend and former co-worker Cassidy, “People’s natural curiosity will lead them to pick up this magazine – there are enough people out there, enough curious Kentuckians, that I truly believe it will survive.”
“My husband said, ‘We can throw together a website for you real fast,’” Wilson says, not dissuaded. “I think about it (the viability of print publishing) obviously, but I’m not worried that people won’t want to read it.”
There will be three issues of Story slated to publish in 2012. It will launch as a quarterly publication, but may go to bimonthly later. It will sell for $4.99 per single issue on the newsstand; one-year subscriptions are $15 and two-year subscriptions are $20. Subscription and other information about Story is available at storythemagazine.com.