July 21, 2020 4 min read

 

The bar is called the Norwegian Rat, but the fishermen affectionally refer to it as "The Rat." The town closes the saloon on Election Day, because, one year, nobody voted in the local election. They chose instead to drink expensive cheap beer and eat good, crispy wings. Banners hang above the make-shift dance floor honoring the names of ships currently calling the port in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, home. I walk in to the bar to find Mat and his father, Mike, saddled up. 

How did the call go? Mat asks.

Good, I nod, ordering a beer.

Toward the end of the counter, a fisherman nurses his hangover forehead on forearms. It is four days before ships embark on the king crab season. The Discovery Channel production crew will arrive later that day. For nearly two decades they filmed the TV show Deadliest Catch here. 

"I'm going to buy the Mountain Gazette," I say to nobody in particular, sipping the $8 draft. 

Mat and Mike look over to me.

Really? asks Mat. 

 

The last 10 months I assembled a group of investors ranging from New York financial moguls to small business owners to invest in a magazine group buy out. I wanted to own a magazine group so that I could affect change. After 15 years of bouncing around the outdoor media industry, I was tired. Frankly, I was sick of being disillusioned by the same listacles, click-bait, and tired old-athlete profiles in which the journalist and athlete played it as safe as possible. It seemed affiliate gear reviews—where the publication makes money off linking to the product they are reviewing so that they get a kick-back—had dominated every corner of the landscape. 

Seven years earlier I launched Verb Cabin, a media production company, so that I could tell visual stories. We convinced brands to tell the truth about their company, ambassadors, and products. Consumers, readers, are smart, I'd argue. They can smell bullshit from miles away today. It worked and with the success of Verb Cabin I conjured the idea to take over a magazine company so I could fire off a media revolution from the top. 

The long and short of it, however, is that I failed in the takeover, which was neither hostile or harmonious, but certainly carried its quirks as one could imagine outdoor transactions go. Simply, the deal didn't work out, I walked away from the table, quit my kush editor's job, and disbanded the investor group. They understood. During those 10 months I learned more about media than I ever imagined, picking the brains of veterans of gigantic global media groups, dissecting good and bad business models, and realizing that good, quality content is the key. They felt the same as I did. They, too, were tired of the click-bait and general crap found in outdoor media. They wanted a richer experience. 

Back at The Rat, three fishermen wander in after rigging up crab pots. They, too, hoped for a richer experience. King crab fishing is tough work. It's slow-paced most of the time, despite what you have seen on Discovery Channel.

I said my proclamation again. I am going to buy the Mountain Gazette. Twenty minutes earlier I hung up the call with a former MG editor. He told me the deal. The magazine was legendary, but needed to be revived for a modern audience. Better paper, less frequent, still weird, and a little off putting to some circles. And it was for sale to the right person. 

But this time, I was going to do it without investors, without the pressure of delivering quick returns. My hope is that I am right and that all of my research leads me to a mellow, fun slope instead of a devastating business avalanche of shit.

People, maybe even you reading this, are tired of the bullshit and general crap out there. If you are, a subscription to MG is the cost of a night of take-out. We will deliver it to your door twice-per-year in a large format print edition that will last a lifetime. Inside will be filled with the spiritual editorial of the magazine's past, written by a new generation of hungry, bright-eyed folks who believe in the richness of going outdoors. I want to find the next Edward Abbey and Hunter S. Thompson. 

This morning I sip coffee which is an outdoor writing trope I promise won't be in the magazine. For the first time in months I smile at the prospect of bring back to life the legendary Mountain Gazette. Together, we are going to do this. I read every single one of your emails, tweets, DMs, and text messages about what this magazine means to you. I won't let you down. This isn't my magazine, it's yours. 

I bought the Mountain Gazette back in January at a Denver bar across the street from the Outdoor Retailer convention. The former owner and I ordered Coors Banquets and toasted to our transaction. We signed the deal in a friend's booth across the street. I felt light on my feet that day, no idea of the impending shit storm that was about to hit the world. Through it all, a motto remains. When in Doubt, Go Higher. 

Mike Rogge
Mike Rogge