Monday, November 09, 2009

Swerve to success: Calgary weekly celebrates 5 years of doing things its own way

It's something of a triumph of the unlikely as Swerve magazine -- the funky supplement to the Calgary Herald -- has just marked its fifth anniversary.

The award-winning magazine is, unquestionably, editor Shelley Youngblut's creation and to her goes a good deal of the credit not only for its longevity but for its excellence. After all, newspapers have traditionally had TV and listings guides that were stubbornly mediocre and only someone with vision and energy can take such a thing up several levels, injecting it with a true magazine, story-telling sensibility. It slugs itself "fun listings" & "Calgary, inside and out" and does its best to live up to the billing.

The excellence has been recognized by peers, as when last year Youngblut won the lifetime achievement award from the Western Magazine Awards in the same year that one article in Swerve (Chris Koentges memoir of his mother, Helen) won four magazine awards (two in the nationals, two in the Western).

Indeed, Youngblut has piloted all 248 issues of the weekly and is the only "Swerver" to have been on staff from launch until today. She parachuted, (or, rather, was parachuted by senior Herald management) back into her unsuspecting hometown from a magazine career in New York and Canada that had included launching ESPN: The Magazine for Disney, being deputy editor for the launch of MTV/Nickelodeon's Nick. Jr. magazine, redesigning the front-of-book for Western Living and launching two magazines for The Globe and Mail (West and Toronto)

What Swerve has become is a service- and personality-heavy guide that highlights the best of the city in true city magazine style yet, in the same vein, digs deep. So it ranges far and wide, in its square-formatted way, covering television, food, fashion, movies, events and every lifestyle topic imaginable as well as commissioning some ground-breaking features about the topside and occasionally the underbelly of the city.

The anniversary issue (November 6) is no less reverential about its accomplishments than most similar landmark issues, however it highlights some of its best (and occasionally wackiest) cover stories. These include putting its own spin on a forthcoming Royal visit and dressed up an impersonator as the Queen, documenting her day as a "commoner" around Calgary, putting her (in gown and sash) aboard the LRT, and taking her to the zoo. Another tracked down the exact spots where Brokeback Mountain was filmed around the city. And having a staff member dress up as a fish and visiting a kiddie pool in Eau Claire, there to nonplus parents and children alike.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheers to Ms Youngblut for her tireless creativity. someone give her a national magazine to run.
(By the way, her name was unfortunately mis-spelled in the first paragraph.)

12:18 am  

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