Magazine's audience is urban, hip

Magazine's audience is urban, hip

Staff WriterOctober 21, 2005 

Nike was born in the trunk of a car. Hewlett-Packard began in a Palo Alto garage. And, Raleigh's The City Commentary magazine began in a break room at Electronic Data Services, a multinational business and technology consulting firm.

"It started out like a general conversation," said Shawn Sampson, 34. "We were sort of talking about another publication."

"[The other publication] was really geared toward the party crowd, you know, the club scene, with ads" said Joseph Crawford, 27.

"Then one of us said, 'let's take that a step further,' " said Terry Brown, 25. "We figured if they can do it, we can do it."

Raleigh, the trio said, needed a monthly magazine that spoke to the lives of their multi-racial co- workers and neighbors.

In June, Brown, Sampson and Crawford published their first issue, under the name The Metropolis Magazine.

Inside, Brown offered his thoughts on the role of a father, Crawford urged readers to move from simple savings to investment, Sampson wrote about benefits of the then-pending state lottery. The articles, all seven, carried the founding trio's bylines.

The fledgling free monthly was fleshed out with nearly 30 local business ads and about half a dozen glamour shots featuring women in club clothes. The girly pictures, Crawford said, were "eye candy" to attract male readers.

The magazine was distributed at 65 local restaurants, barber and beauty salons, clothing stores, dentists' offices and other magazine-friendly businesses.

The trio had hoped to break even on their first issue. Instead, they wound up $2,000 short of their goal. But after a small-business loan, the three were convinced that the magazine (now named The City Commentary), the monthly mixers it throws and its Web site were ready for Raleigh, Brown said.

The trio broke even on the July issue and the four published since, said Crawford. The magazine can be found in more than 100 locations around the city.

When the group started selling ads earlier this year, they not only had to convince advertisers that they and the magazine were for real, but that advertising was worthwhile, Cunningham said. Many of the nail salons, tire shops, restaurants and barbers that advertise in City Commentary had operated by word of mouth.

Cathy Hudson has been a hairdresser for seven years and owner of The Avenue Hair Salon for five. She's used everything from old-fashioned handbills to ads in the Independent and the Southside Shopper.

But what she needed was a place to plant an ad where brands such as "Carol's Daughter," -- not-so-easy-to-find products that she offers -- would resonate.

"In Raleigh, we really don't have a magazine, anything like this," she said. The magazine targets people who know Carol's Daughter, a Body Shop-like business that creates upscale products for black skin and hair.

"It was great to see something new, something else to come out, something outside of the norm," she said.

Staff Writer Janell Ross can be reached at 829-4698 or jross@newsobserver.com.

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