Oklahoma Today’s November/DECEMBER 2007 issue was the final installment in an eight-issue series celebrating Oklahoma’s centennial of becoming a state—it was also the issue that corresponded with the centennial. “This would be the last issue in that series and we needed to have some of the seminal things that Oklahoma Today does well and show how people regard their home state,” says editor-in-chief Louisa McCune-Elmore.
Throughout the celebration of the centennial, Oklahoma Today capitalized on the number 46 which represented its position as the 46th state in the U.S. Earlier in year, the magazine covered the top 46 photographs in Oklahoma history, as well as the top 46 Oklahoman thinkers—including Will Rogers and Woody Guthrie.
The November/December issue also featured 26 pages of the Oklahoma landscape. “Our photographer, Shane Brown, has a unique, almost Spartan eye,” says McCune-Elmore.
From Chicken Fried Steak to The Flaming Lips
Other highlights included a look at the Chisholm Trail, essential Oklahoma books, music and films, and an homage to the state food, chicken fried steak. “That one got us the most reader response,” says McCune-Elmore. “As a general interest consumer magazine, we can do a story on [alternative band and Oklahoma natives] The Flaming Lips or a story on chicken fried steak. These are just some of things that define us as a people in the best possible way. We’re never going to do a piece on ‘10 Worst Legislators’ like Texas Monthly might.”
Second-Best Performer in Magazine’s History
Producing an issue of this scope and importance came with the usual challenges of deadlines and budgets, as well as a situation that tested the workflow: McCune-Elmore was nine months pregnant as this issue was prepared and gave birth five days before final proofing. “It was one of those situations where I wrote the editor’s letter from the hospital room,” she says.
Oklahoma Today spent $20,000 on editorial for the issue and generated $185,000 in ad revenue. The magazine also posted a 63 percent sell-through with single copies (making it the second best performer in newsstand copies as well as the second best-performer in advertising sales in the magazine’s 52-year history).
Back to the Core Mission
While many editors can get trapped in the grind of producing issue after issue without stepping back to reflect on the broader position of the magazine, producing the final centennial issue issue of Oklahoma Today reminded McCune-Elmore (who once was named to FOLIO:’s “30 Under 30” list recognizing young up-and-comers in the publishing industry) of the magazine’s core mission. “We’ve had years of more editorial focus and years of more photographic focus with Oklahoma Today,” she says. “I’ve been editor-in-chief for 11 years and I think this reminded me of our essential nature as a magazine and I really was due for that. I was very happy to be working with these photographs, one after the other. Oklahoma will never have the ocean, and we’ll never have The Grand Canyon. We have to rely on our readers’ understanding of our prairies and agriculture and different ecological scenes, presented in serene, beautiful ways.”