150 issues. We were beyond stoked back in January when our 150th magazine landed on our desks and were looking forward to another winter of hitting the road scribbling notes and filling memory cards with bangers for the next season’s issues. Sadly, it turns out there will be no issue 151 of Onboard magazine; 150 was our last.
I’ve been struggling to write something because last week has been a boiling ocean of mixed emotions. A week ago our parent company, Factory Media, made the tough choice to pull the trigger and shut down the entire print arm of their business and focus exclusively online. As a guy with 15 years of blood, sweat and tears invested in cultivating a print product, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.
Even before I started snowboarding, my dream was to work for a magazine – surf or skate, it didn’t matter – but it was one of those dreams you just can’t ever see actually becoming reality. So when – through luck, timing or experience – I scored a gig at a snowboard mag in the UK it was like winning the lottery. Hyped doesn’t even cover it. And then, across the sliver of sea separating my island from mainland Europe was Onboard. As alluded to in what turned out to be my last magazine editorial, this mag has always spoken to me more than others as it was, having spent winters on the continent, both relatable and a level above (in terms of overall riding quality) the UK mags of the time. Plus they were based in the mountains, and I wanted to snowboard as much as possible.
Again, working for Onboard was always something I aspired to, yet realistically never expected to happen. When it did and I moved to Munich (admittedly not in, but still damn close to the mountains), and had the chance to work with all these legendary dudes whose work I’d fanned out on for years – specifically Danny Burrows, Youri Barneoud, Pat Vermeulen, Scalp, Peter Lundström, Espen Lystad, Tony Cormack and Jez Owen – I was a little overawed yet full of a fucking huge amount of stoke to now be part of what they’d been producing. I’m over 10 years in with Onboard alone and it still gets, or should I say got, me stoked.
Having invested so much passion into creating magazines for so many years, not to mention the awesome feeling when you finally get the issues back from the printers and leaf through the pages, there’s no denying that there’s a sense of failure that this has happened under my stewardship. But the reality is that the world is not the same as it was 10 years ago. The realist in me can’t help but be aware of both the dwindling reach of print – certainly within something like snowboarding with its youthful demographic – and the explosion of our online audience in the last two years.
Since the internet became a thing in snowboard publishing the magazine staff have constantly been pulled from one medium to the other, aware of the acute importance of the online world, but knowing that the magazine was the bedrock on which the brand was built and where we could arguably represent snowboarding’s true nature in the most considered format. The cream of the crop of the previous season, rather than the wild west of the internet where gold was struck regularly, but there was a whole bunch of muddy waters to sift through. Things change.
For us, that bedrock of print has been getting shakier in recent years, for many reasons, and there was no escape from the reality that we were engaging snowboarders – yes, snowboarders and not just those with a passing interest in a NBD or a snowboarding midget – online in a way that we could never hope to through the magazine. By having the editorial staff pull, for the first time since the pre-internet era, wholly in one direction, the aim is to carry over the spirit of Onboard’s representation of snowboarding in print to the online world.
To quote myself from issue 146, when we were informed we’d go down from 8 issues a year to 5, “The reason I and most other mag people do this job is because, of course, we love snowboarding, but also because spreading that stoke to as many people as possible gets us even more pumped.” While I can’t be happy at the fact our magazine is no more, I can honestly say I’m excited at what we’ll be able to produce online from herein and the people we’ll be able to hit up with it. And I fucking hope we stoke you out with what we do.