Happy Trails

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By Steve Oppenheimer

(August 2007)

“Happy Trails” was the famous theme that Roy Rogers and Dale Evans sang at the close of each episode of The Roy Rogers Show. Penned by Evans, it’s a song of hope, renewal, and friendship that promises that although we must part, we will see each other again in the next episode. As a lifelong fan of western movies and TV shows, I thought of “Happy Trails” because after nearly 20 years of working on the EM editorial staff and more than 9 years as the magazine’s editor, it’s time for me to embark on a new adventure, and I want you to join me in the next exciting episode.

Recently, Penton Media Audio Group editorial director Tom Kenny took the next step in a long-planned reorganization of our editorial department. (Penton is our parent company, and the Audio Group includes Electronic Musician, Mix, Remix, and Music Education Technology.) Some of the reshuffle is for internal purposes: we now share some editorial resources that were previously being duplicated. But the primary goal is to allow us to dramatically increase our focus on the Web, including a major increase in rich media, such as video and audio. You will soon see the first of many such improvements on our emusician.com, remixmag.com, and mixonline.com Web sites, as well as some entirely new Web products that we’re not quite ready to unveil yet.

Naturally, we’ll employ a lot of new technology to create, deliver, and track all this online content, and the staffs of our various magazines will need to coordinate more closely than in the past. Faced with these challenges, Tom decided to appoint, in essence, a “technology czar” to coordinate with our corporate technology folks and to sort out and direct how we cover technology in print and online, what technology we use, and how we can employ that technology to best effect. It’s a big job, and as you may have guessed by now, Tom gave it to me. So I’m the new tech czar around this place, with the title Director of Technology, Audio Group.

Of course, I couldn’t take on this new and rather daunting job and also run EM‘s day-to-day editorial operations. Something had to give. So although I still retain the title of editor in chief, and I will continue to be available to the EM staff, I’m turning my day-to-day editorial responsibilities over to newly minted EM editor Gino Robair. I’ve been helping Gino prepare to take over the reins for the past few years, and he’s definitely ready. Gino has some very interesting ideas for improving the magazine and Web site, and he now has the opportunity to implement them. Starting with the September issue, he will take over this column, and he’ll share his editorial vision with you directly.

I’m excited about this new opportunity, but I am going to intensely miss being the hands-on leader of EM‘s editorial team and having a special relationship with our readers. I started with EM and Mix in a very different era, before any of the U.S. music-tech magazines were desktop published and before the Web existed. (The Internet had been around for decades, but not the Web.) For years, EM‘s only email address was my personal email account. When I started working here in November 1987, electronic-music technology was in a relatively primitive state compared with what it is today, and personal studios were strictly for making demos. Now, top pros create highly successful musical projects in personal studios.

I’ve changed a lot too in the past 19-plus years. Since I arrived, I have held virtually every editorial post at EM, from editorial assistant to editor in chief. I’ve been writing the “First Take” column (formerly called “The Front Page”) since the January 1998 issue and have headed up the editorial department longer than any two of my three predecessors combined. I’ve brought in new people and ideas, and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. I hope I’ve been able to help you in your musical endeavors and perhaps given you a chuckle or two along the way; after all, who else around here would publish their dog’s picture in the editorial column, as I have occasionally done? Now it’s Gino’s turn.

Lest you get the wrong impression, this may be my last “First Take” column, but it’s by no means good-bye, because I’m still very much part of the team here. True, EM‘s journey continues with a new trail boss; however, I’ll be active behind the scenes, helping the EM, Mix, and Remix staffs create and deliver great print articles, videos, podcasts, blogs, online activities, and new and exciting products that I can’t discuss yet.

Still, my relationship with you is changing. To each and every EM reader, thank you for your support, your feedback, and your loyalty during the past two decades. It has been a great ride; now it will continue in a new direction, and I hope you’ll join us. Happy trails to you, ’til we meet again — online.

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