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Marking A Milestone

By Fred Parry

Thirty years ago this month, my wife and I published our first magazine in Columbia.
So much has changed since 1994, but one constant has been our love for this unique community. We’ve watched and reported as Columbia has blossomed from a sleepy college town into a thriving small metropolis. We’ve done our best to chronicle this metamorphosis, celebrating her moments of sheer brilliance and mourning her darkest moments. Through the good and bad, our city, like this magazine, has been remarkably resilient.

In July of 1994, George Russell was the president of the University of Missouri system. Charles Keisler was the chancellor on the Columbia campus. Marcia Kierscht had just been named president of Stephens College. Don Ruthenberg was the president of Columbia College. The population of Columbia was 75,045 compared to today’s 130,624 inhabitants. You could still buy vinyl at Streetside Records on
the southwest corner of Broadway and Providence (where Walgreens is now located) and then head across the street to the MFA Oil station where you could fill up your car at just $1.11 per gallon.
And when you really wanted to impress out-of-town visitors, you took them to an elegant dinner on the northern outskirts of town at the incomparable Haden House Restaurant. Life was good, indeed.

Our publishing enterprise got its humble beginnings in the basement of the Tenth and Walnut building where we leased space from attorney Darwin Hindman, who would go on to serve as Columbia’s mayor from 1995 until 2010. By happenstance, no single individual has been featured more frequently on the cover of Inside Columbia magazine than Hindman, himself. Norm Stewart, who graced the first cover of this magazine, comes in at a very close second place.

Over the years, we dipped our toes into a variety of publishing ventures. We published magazines for senior citizens, architects, winemakers, job seekers, Christians, parents and business leaders and created a plethora of titles for many local businesses including Boone Hospital and the University of Missouri. To keep ourselves in business and to build our brands, we hosted the annual Wine and Food Festivals for several years along with beer crawls and CEO Roundtables. We even teamed up with local homebuilders and built seven Inspiration Homes around Columbia. After moving into our snazzy new headquarters at 47 E. Broadway, we opened the Culinary Adventures Cooking School. It goes without saying, we didn’t get much sleep back then.

I’d dare to say that the best franchise we built over these last 30 years was simply a derivative of something that came very natural to us. One of the core values in our business model has been to show the very best of Columbia to her residents and visitors alike. Former Tribune publisher, Hank Waters, once described me as a ‘chubby cheerleader’ for Columbia. At first, I was offended, but as time passed, I embraced the moniker. In 2007, we turned our calling into an editorial feature, and the Best of Columbia awards program was born. Just as it is presented in this edition of Inside Columbia, we’ve been celebrating the very best that Columbia has to offer for the last 18 years. That’s an impressive run and it has only gotten better with age.

The Best of Columbia captures the true essence of the stories we try to tell in every edition. Editorially speaking, it would be easy to get caught up in the challenges that plague our community. With the advent of social media, there are plenty of opportunities out there for you to read about crime, the perceived shortcomings of our public schools and the myriad things that really tick us off on a daily basis. I have discovered in the last year that one of the best ways to deal with adversity is to channel your energies toward gratitude. When this magazine lost its publisher last May, it admittedly rocked our world. But just like this amazing community, we were resilient in our resolve to keep bringing you the best that Columbia has to offer, and grateful for the opportunity to do so.

When we joined forces with Zimmer Communications in 2017, we gained a renewed sense of hope for the future and an even stronger connection with this community. Under Zimmer’s ownership, we’ve deepened our bench and gained the strength of an amazing lineup of radio personalities and digital assets that make us better every day. I believe we’re poised for another 30 years of success.

Special thanks to the advertisers and readers who have made it all possible. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Happy reading.

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