My take: A new day dawning

Home Editorials My take: A new day dawning

by Steve Feldman

It is never an enviable assignment to follow in the footsteps of a legend. Ask Clement Atleee, Phil Bengston, Gene Bartow, Ray Perkins, and Frank Cobb. Who? Exactly. Those were the men whose fates were to succeed Winston Churchill, Vince Lombardi, John Wooden, Bear Bryant and Joseph Pulitzer, respectively. Heck, even Mr. Spock had his work cut out for him in succeeding Captain Kirk.

But the truth is we are all replaceable in this world, and at some point we all are, by hook or by crook. And so it goes with Floor Covering News. For the first 25 years of this publication’s existence (OK, I’m overstating by a few months), the only voice our readers knew in this space was that of Al Wahnon. Unless you’ve just awoken from a coma, you know we lost Al on Feb. 1. Surely his role in history pales in comparison to the aforementioned names, but in our little corner of the world that is the floor covering industry, Al was truly a legend.

When Al passed, there was discussion as to how we were going to utilize this space. I kind of liked what the Cubs have done to honor the great Harry Carey since his death 13 years ago with various voices leading in the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” every game. But “booking” 26 people a year seemed too arduous a task. I knew I would be moving into this space at some point, but I wasn’t sure exactly when.

So here we are, our first issue following the 25th anniversary issue. It’s not the first issue of our second quarter-century, but close enough to anoint this a new beginning. It’s as a good a time as any to move in.

Let’s start by setting a few ground rules. First, I’m not Al. I’m not as smart as Al. I don’t have Al’s command of the English language. I will never send you to the dictionary to find the meaning of a word. Odds are, if you don’t know a word’s meaning, neither do I.

Next, I plan to use this space differently than Al. I am going to convey my thoughts, popular or not. I may rehash some conversations when appropriate. When I read something that could be deemed beneficial for our readers, I will write about it. Heck, if I go to a good restaurant in Las Vegas, I will probably let you know right before Surfaces. I want this space to be useful, enlightening and entertaining. At times it will be talking to retailers, other times suppliers and, most often, both.

Last thing for now: I want to talk about publications in general. The history of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. is written around the names of great editors and publishers. Horace Greeley (New York Tribune), William Randolph Hearst (New York Journal), Joseph Pulitzer (New York World), Ben Bradlee (Washington Post), Barney Kilgore (Wall Street Journal) and many more left an indelible imprint on U.S. journalism. By publishing newspapers that reflected their own personalities, they helped to create the great tradition of journalism. But it is a dying tradition. In its place, the complexity of covering something as large as the world or as small as the flooring industry has brought an age of efficient and impersonal news gathering machines. In my mind, the Internet is a culprit.

As an example, many choose to be asked questions by email, to which they respond in the same manner. No follow-ups, no relationship building. Few are the editors who do not succumb. Keep it up and the death knell will sound sooner rather than later.

This is still a relationship business. In his time, Al Wahnon had as many relationships as anyone. He believed business should be done with a voice and, whenever possible, a handshake. I agree. And that—not any one person—will be the face of this magazine.

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