Did Radar Deserve the Hype?
The thrice-failed magazine managed to create disproportionate amount of buzz.
Radar, which announced last week that it would shutter for the third time, is going ahead with its Halloween party tonight in New York—albeit one with a now-grimly ironic R.I.P. theme. (Say what you will about the magazine as a business, but Radar always knew how to throw a good party, an increasingly rare skill in magazineville these days.)
With all the relative hype and accompanying media press surrounding Radar’s latest demise (and good-bye party) it’s worth asking the question: Do they deserve it? Sure, their irreverent attitude when they arrived both recalled the late Spy magazine and mimicked the snarky tone of media-read blogs like Gawker (which took enormous pride in watching Maer Roshan’s magazine crash and burn the first couple times).
Bob Sacks, for one, never understood why:
I’ve often wondered why some titles get the media-about-media obsessive-compulsive spotlight of attention and others don’t. Of why we cover some titles with such intense pleasure while other infinitely more worthy contenders can’t get the time of day by their reporting brothers.
It’s an odd formula of celebrity, insider snobbery, bad taste and damn poor reporting. There are much more meaningful titles that have recently gone out of business without the pandering and the stupid over-assessment and deep non-meaning of poor Radar’s demise. Clearly nobody—not the advertisers nor the readers—cared. That this whole tragedy-comedy of the Radar title is emblematic of print media’s future position in media’s realignment into the 21st century is nothing more or less then some weird form of industry masturbation. We’ve got to stop it or we’ll all go blind.
Why haven’t we been following the more important stories of our day? The Christian Science Monitor reported today that it is suspending its print publication and going on-line. That is something worth covering.
The fact that since 1990 we have thousands more titles available at newsstands, but we’ve been stuck in a flat line of sales at a total of 366 million copies sold for 19 years.
The fact that in 1960 the newspaper penetration in this country was 1.1 copy per household and now is dropping to somewhere near .3 copies per household—now there is a story worth obsessing over.
The fact that the three crowned divas of publishing, Huffington, Fuller and Brown, are all now online—are we obsessing over that? No. Trust me, there is more meaning to these stories than there is to Radar’s demise. Radar is just another magazine out of business. And like the Frito’s chip advertising used to state: Don’t worry, we’ll just make more.
That Maer Roshan’s dream magazine failed three times is and was meaningless, except perhaps to Roshan’s mom and his many investors. To the rest of the world and the industry it is reflective of nothing more than our ability to lose tons of money … repeatedly.
A few things I disagree with here.
“Clearly nobody—not the advertisers nor the readers—cared.”
I think the advertisers and readers did care about Radar. The problem was, not enough of them did.
The fact that the three crowned divas of publishing, Huffington, Fuller and Brown, are all now online—are we obsessing over that?
Not sure I’d call Arianna Huffington a crowned diva of publishing—and I have doubts about Bonnie Fuller’s vague Web business plan. But Tina Brown’s Daily Beast has been covered quite a bit by “media-about-media obsessives.” So has the Christian Science Monitor’s demise, although, since it’s a newspaper, FOLIO: passed on immediate coverage.
And I haven’t seen “this whole tragedy-comedy of the Radar title is emblematic of print media’s future position in media’s realignment into the 21st century” Sacks is talking about; if I do, though, I’d have to agree that it’s “nothing more [than] some weird form of industry masturbation.”
But even Sacks would have to agree that there’s something fascinating about a magazine that, throughout its short-lived existence, managed to create disproportionate amount of buzz.
And if Radar’s “ability to lose tons of money … repeatedly” means a free drink or two tonight, well, I’ll toast to that.