Time Out Chicago Will Be Missed
Last Monday (4/8/13), it was reported that Time Out Chicago had been bought out by parent company, Time Out Group. “The move…ends an eight-year run as an independent franchise, placing Chicago in the fold with New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and Boston as owned-and-operated Time Out markets,” wrote Robert Channick for The Chicago Tribune (which has been courting buyers as well).
Whatever love TOG had for TOC seems to be lost, since an estimated 3/4 of the 60-person editorial staff was laid off. Questions remain regarding who will do what when where and how, but such is the state of journalism.
For those who experienced the slimming down of this once corpulent magazine, it was a long time coming. Still, it was a tough transition for a glutton that reviewed and covered anything sensory and all things Epicurean. For fans, and for journalists, readers, cultural wayfarers, interlopers, dreamers, clubbers and belly uppers, foodies and bookies, creators and appreciators, dance lovers, thespians and their ilk, cinephiles and xenophiles, giggers and gaggers, hipsters and normies, for anyone with any curiosity about the world beyond their nose, the news is still a slap to our collectively pierced, buttoned, botoxed, bearded, beautiful face. It’s a double blow for me as a reader and a writer.
TOC grew up and bridged generations, so the old felt hip and the hip felt humble. When we had kids, you made Kids; we breeded so much you devoted a quarterly to it. You guys helped define the urban millennial renaissance for Chicago. Your snark was mostly charming, your occasional inattention to emails was rejoined by sincerity—you were a lot like us.
As a reader I’ve already been missing Sex Doctor Debby Herbenick’s complete lack of judgment and total insight into all things kink, back page then buried then gone, her column a presage of things to come. Heard on the Street?–one of the greatest PSA’s to unplug and tune in, to shut up and pay attention because this teeming metropolis transcends mere entertainment. Jake Malooley, champion of the underdemographic, you freaked the streets Out There to introduce us to Chicago’s everyday eccentrics and made us feel a little more comfortable in our own packaging.
I’ll miss Novid Parsi’s nettlesome Q&A’s with less than forthcoming subjects, and I’ll miss devoted sections for the finest arts, especially my beloved Books; Jonathan Messinger, and then Laura Pearson, you were a touchstone in the local literary rumblings, the staunch media presence that gave inches of print to indie authors and literary lions alike, who sought out the underrepresented and the marginalized in the lit community and helped rebuild the foundation of the bustling literary theater that is Chicago.
In a letter to readers, Elizabeth Barr, the Editorial Director of Time Out North America, wrote “Chicagoans will soon reap the benefits of Time Out Group’s digital offerings which, in addition to an improved website…[free] apps will bring all of TOC’s reviews, features, and event listings at your fingertips.”
That’s thoughtful for readers but I’d much rather hear from the man who ran the show for these past 8 years, a businessman who subverted the decline of print media by increasing circulation in 2012, a family guy who oversaw an editorial family and captained a family softball team, a writer first and foremost who created more freelance opportunities than any other media company in the city, and who–above all of his other duties as President and Editor-in-Chief–cared about words and language. Frank Sennett, you rock. As did his counterpart, Executive Editor Amy Carr, who was the public face of the magazine and the force behind TOC Kids.
For readers, you established a cultural map. For writers, you offered respect in the form of piecemeal pay far beyond the pittance of pennies on the pageviews, or worse, the Huff Posting of the media world. Thanks for recognizing value.
TOC’s listings were comprehensive and user friendly, but its editors are what made the magazine distinctive, vibrant, dynamic; they were a tent pole in the cultural circus of Chicago. You will be missed.
—lead photo by Mercruio Exhibits