Powder Magazine Bites the Dust

Tony Crocker

Staff member
https://www.adventure-journal.com/2020/ ... shut-down/

Obviously this is a sad moment for me, as I made my first and biggest splash in ski journalism by getting my snowfall and ski conditions analysis published as the cover story in October 1995 Powder.

It's worse than that as I'm fairly sure Surfer and possibly Bike were at least as influential in their communities as Powder was for skiers.

From the ski consumer's perspective, I can see that our world of skiing is one where print media has an exceedingly difficult time competing with online. We have already seen the demise of SKIING and the remaining mags cut from 7 issues per year to 4. Both Ski Canada and SBC Skier remain alive in Canada.
Tony Crocker":1j2c75u2 said:
Obviously this is a sad moment for me, as I made my first and biggest splash in ski journalism by getting my snowfall and ski conditions analysis published as the cover story in October 1995 Powder.
Can you post the magazine cover and article? Not that we don't believe you. :lol:
jamesdeluxe":3hnp03wr said:
Can you post the magazine cover and article? Not that we don't believe you.

Interestingly, I very specifically recall that issue when it came out as I was sick of the marketing BS from all the resorts and I thought it was great that someone was holding their feet to the fire for their ever increasingly ridiculous snowfall/depth, etc... claims. Of course that was in a time before snow stake cams, automated Snotel data publishing, etc...
For SoCal and other folks where one always had to beware of the "R" word...the absolute classic was, "Helloooo skiers, this is Jim from Mountain High. It's a Winter Wonderland up here today!!!" = if Jim didn't explicitly say it's snowing, then dress accordingly and ya better bring spare gloves LOL.

That Powder issue was before the ubiquity of the internet (Mosaic web browser was 1993 but AOL and Compuserve "closed" systems were what most folks had, if anything). Also Usenet where this site's admin posted lots.
Here's the cover:

A few months later my collaborating editor Leslie Anthony sent me this:

Leslie gave me a few copies in 1995. 10-15 years later I only had a couple left, and so swung by the same Capistrano office on the way to a beach day and got some more. So yesterday here we are still still at 95+ and planning our third beach day in a week, so I thought why not do that again. If these mags are going to be shut down I might as well get whatever copies are left from October 1995.

The offices are now in Carlsbad. That's farther but San Diego County beaches are good too, and if we're going that far we can also meet Adam for dinner. So we arrived in Carslbad around 12:30PM and the building manager Brandon happened to be there. He got the news over the weekend and was instructed to lock out those who were furloughed immediately (Bike and Surfer). All of the magazines are published 4x a year, but Bike and Surfer are spaced out and were so closed immediately. Powder and Snowboarder issues are seasonally bunched and I know from my experience in 1995 when that October issue was put to bed in July. So no surprise the Photo Annual and Gear Guide work has already been done so those issues just need to be published and then Powder and Snowboarder staff will be furloughed mid-November.

Was there a COVID-19 impact? Brandon said yes, newsstand sales fell off a cliff. Lots of those are in airports for example. But the overall print media trend and behavior of A360/American Media are still the main drivers here. American Media only bought these magazines in February 2019 and they are extremely secretive. No one knows about anything more than the furloughs now and in mid-November.

Brandon was kind enough to put me in touch with Dave Reddick. Steve Casimiro hired him in 1992 so he remembered my name from 1995 even though we never met. As for preserving Powder magazine archives, he plans to do that zealously. Dave also said that they had scanned and preserved digitally lots of their print issues. We exchanged e-mails and he plans to e-mail me a digital copy of October 1995 if he has it. If I get that, I'm fine with the 7 print copies I have left. It's more important for Dave to preserve a robust archive of past Powder magazine history.
Here's some interesting background on the American Media purchase of these magazines from The Enthusiast Network in February 2019, and about Surfer magazine in particular. Surfer has been in existence since 1962 and last Thursday endorsed a presidential candidate for the first time.

Stab Magazine reference above":2ro0cuw8 said:
Regardless of what the Surfer staff did or didn’t know regarding their termination (and how that related to their publishing of an official Presidential endorsement), we’ve heard from an inside source that the Surfer brand was slated to be extinguished no matter what, and that it was purely by chance that this culling coincided with yesterday’s post....however unlikely that may seem.
Nice lab coat Tony.

Though I'd have to say that Powder was not anywhere in the same ballpark of quality in the past decade relative to what it had been previously. My fond memories of Powder mag are clearly from the late 80's up to ~the early 00's. Beyond that I lost interest in much, if not most, of it's content. Though I did still glance through each issue, perhaps finding the occasional article of interest (and great photography).
Rumors of its death seem to be pre-mature. At least airports in the desert have an all new issue for 23/24 (a one off? Or partial rebirth?).

The Arena Group claims to have bought the brand late last year. Nonetheless I see the a360media name above that QR code. It's nice to see Dave Reddick is still working hard to keep it going.