Where Y’at Magazine is now in its 20th year! Two whole decades. That’s as old as a fine bottle of wine, four times the average felony prison sentence, and only a few years younger than Justin Bieber.
Heck, that’s about 137 in dog years … and in magazine years? Well, let’s face it, many magazines simply don’t live that long (nor do the dogs).
Publisher and Where Y’at founder Josh Danzig took some time out to tell us how the magazine got its start all those many years ago, what it’s all about, and how it’s managed to last more than twice as long as the average marriage and nearly as long as the shelf life of a Twinkie.
“Where Y’at is New Orleans’s premier entertainment publication. We strive to share the best that New Orleans has to offer in music, food, nightlife, sports, and the arts,” Danzig says. “’Where y’at’ is New Orleans slang for ‘How are you?’ or ‘What’s happening?’ We strive to share what’s exciting in the city to our readers,” he adds.
Danzig started the magazine in July of 1998 when he decided that “New Orleans could use a new voice in the realm of publishing … something for the ‘young professionals’: the 21-34 demographic,” he explains. “My goal with Where Y’at was to educate people on the unique charm of New Orleans, but in a fun and engaging way. This was true whether the person was a native New Orleanian or someone who was just visiting.”
Things were definitely a little bit different back in those early days. Danzig remembers, “When Where Y’at started, there was no internet as we know it. There were no iPhones, let alone hi-speed connections. There was no Facebook, and email was ruled by AOL. So, all of our business was done via landlines, fax machines, and my Palm Pilot.” But that’s okay. Even the coolest folks have a mullet, pair of Crocs, or Myspace account in their past. And Where Y’at has come a long way since then. Born in the days of phone books, flip phones, and desktop computers, the magazine has managed to evolve and keep up with the times with a strong social media presence these days and a website that was even voted “Best News Website” by the New Orleans Press Club.
Danzig feels that the secret to his magazine’s success is threefold. Besides needing to have interesting and entertaining articles and photos that appeal to readers, he also feels that the magazine has an edge by catering especially to young professionals—aka millennials. “That is an extremely important demographic to New Orleans, as those are the people who will move here, start families, and help the city grow,” he says. That said, he admits that Where Y’at actually reaches a much broader audience than just the millennial crowd. “It’s geared to whoever enjoys the New Orleans entertainment scene. And that can be anyone from eight to 80.”
And finally, in order to keep a magazine running as long as he has, you have to pay for it somehow. And that often means selling ads. “I learned very quickly that you cannot have the rewarding part of a publication without the business ramifications,” he explains. “I learned that if I didn’t have the sales and support of advertisers, then I wouldn’t be able to pay for printing, rent, salaries, and more. I’d run out of money quickly.”
And unfortunately, selling ads can sometimes present its own set of challenges. “Selling is not an easy thing, and it’s not for the faint of heart,” Danzig admits. “You have to be prepared to have the phone hung up on you, the door slammed in your face, and people yell at you. I once had a bar owner throw a telephone book at me because he was upset and didn’t want to talk about advertising. A different restaurant owner opened his door one morning with a gun pointed at me; he claimed it was for safety reasons.”
Danzig has no regrets and says that even if he had it to do over again, he really wouldn’t do anything differently. So, what does the future hold for the magazine, and where we will be in another 20 years from now? According to Danzig, “In 20 years, Where Y’at will continue to be the voice of the young movers and shakers of New Orleans. We’ll continue to present the exciting things that this city has to offer.”
Stick with us for another 20 years, and let’s prove him right.