Urge overkill? New mag born as others die

Urge had already debuted in Richmond, Petersburg and Fredericksburg before its fourth issue hit the newsstands in Charlottesville in December.

The forecast for print media only gets worse. Media General has put the Daily Progress building on the block as it struggles with a plunging stock price of $2.85, down from $27.18 a share in September.

And though two glossies are soon to disappear from local racks, a Richmond publishing company has the urge to launch Urge, a slick regional arts mag with the motto, "Try something different."

Publication has been suspended on TheNext50, which debuted last May, and its sister pub, Charlottesville House and Home, which appeared in March 2007.

TheNext50 was doing well, but "House and Home was taking a beating," says publisher Eric Lund. "We would have kept it going, but with ad revenue down, we would have had to cut quality."

The Daily Progress launched a look-alike glossy shelter magazine three months after Lund, which didn't help. Nor did the crashing real estate market.

Meanwhile, despite slowing home sales, one local real estate magazine, HomeSearch, has a new owner–- John Garner–- and a new name: HomePlace.

It's not like there's a shortage of real estate publications here, with Real Estate Weekly, the Daily Progress' insert, Home Seeker, and a glossy called Fine Properties. Garner did not return phone calls from the Hook, but powerhouse real estate agent Sharon Donovan explains why she advertises in HomePlace: It's glossy, its bimonthly schedule gives it a longer shelf life, and it accepts properties that are too low-end for Fine Properties.

"Real Estate Weekly is too big and unwieldy as a publication," says Donovan. Plus, it's more expensive. Houses are staying on the market longer, and she predicts that as realtors cut back on their advertising, that will be a boon for HomePlace. "I love that publication," she enthuses. "I get great results."

And that brings us to the latest glossy entrant to local newsstands: the winter issue of Urge, with Charlottesvillians Shawn Decker and Gwenn Barringer on the cover.

Richmond-based Palari Publishing noticed a niche. "There was no glossy publication covering the arts since 64," says Urge executive publisher Ted Randler, mentioning the slick, regional arts and culture mag that survived two-and-a-half years before folding in 2002. And glossy is the best way to reproduce paintings and photographs, adds Randler, who has a master's degree in fine arts.

"We saw a need," he explains of the Central Virginia-centric mag that stretches from Charlottesville to Fredericksburg, Richmond and Williamsburg, and that he'd eventually like to see it distributed statewide. "We recognize people in Richmond will go to Charlottesville, and people in Charlottesville will go to Fredericksburg."

And those people want to find the cool places in the neighborhood, believes Randler. "There are these pods of retail and fine art, and unless you know the region intimately, you won't know about them."

The first quarterly issue of Urge to hit here has plenty of Charlottesville attractions: The Kings of Belmont, the Charlottesville Ladies Arm Wrestling, Main Street Market, and Live Arts.

Urge offers free gallery listings, and its entry-level ad rates rates of $150 make it affordable for the home artisan or small shop to advertise for 90 days in a glossy magazine, says Randler.

As for profitability? "Does anybody make money in publishing?" he asks. "It certainly is a labor of love. And it's on a growth pattern."

Palari has been in business for 11 years and has three other magazines, as well as books and websites. "It's not like we don't have a history of publishing," says Randler.

And hard times are not limited to print media. Saga Communications, which owns the Charlottesville Radio Group and just laid off three broadcasters here, announced a reverse stock split December 30 and is struggling to keep its share price above $1.

Publicly traded Gray Televisions, which owns four TV stations here, opened at 48 cents a share January 12, down from its 52-week high of $8.14.

Randler's theory is that publishing gets a bump during hard times. "Maybe you can't afford to fly to Hawaii, but you can read about it," he says. "Having a free, glossy publication, people are more likely to pick it up. That will be their luxury."

Certainly the first 10,000 copies were snapped up, and Urge just started paid subscriptions because the newsstand copies disappeared so quickly. And now that Urge is the official magazine of the Richmond Arts Council, Randler expects the next print run to be larger.

"We're very upbeat," he says. "We're very positive." And that's something you don't often hear from media moguls these days.


That dude's girlfriend is hot. Urge is right.

I checked it out, cool mag, i'm impressed. I like that they got some good cville stories in there.

There's been a need for this mag. love it. Like Randler's positive attitude

I have read it a few times. Its really trendy and all the cover are awesome. Its a wonderful magazine.


URGE is the perfect magazine for Charlottesville. Charlottesville is written all over it. Just flip through a copy, either virtually on the URGE website or in print, and you'll see exactly what I mean: arts, entertainment, all covered through the lens and pen of talented photographers and writers. And the art section is phenomenal.

Not to mention my story (REBELS WITH A CAUSE) on Shawn and Gwenn Decker landed the cover... so I'm going to automatically give it two thumbs up.

P.S. Read Shawn's memoir MY PET VIRUS from Penguin Books. Guy has a story everyone needs to hear.

Jeffrey Pillow

Urge is sooo wonderful. OMG! All the art and the words are kewl.

Awesome. Totally. Fer shure.

Love U 4 Eva.


Urge's Mom.

Good God Hawes: Have you ever seen such blatant, self-promotional schilling? Look at those silly-ass comments, above.

Urge prolly owes you some momney for all the advertising.


Kudos! I look forward to more Urge ~ so far the issues have covered some fun topics and great local art.

I like the name :)
Reserving judgement until the next issue

Great magazine, hope they can start one here in florida.
I think I will name my firt born child Urge.

good god, pass the koolaide


That girl is HOTTT yo!

Looks more like Elvira, mistress of the dark.

Thats why she is so hot. Now leave her alone!!!

I wish them all the best and think they are on to something. Local food, local art, local activism. We may be entering the age of caring for the community we live in.

An annoying cover pic followed up by cheesy "I like it" comments. That's not even quality astroturfing! Hope your pub is better.

The poster boy and girl sure strike a smarmy pose. Ivf that's indicative of the mag contents, I'll pass.

All this "I'm so hip it hurts" posturing in the indie rags would be amusing if it wasn't so tiresome. The kids at C-Ville Weekly jump up and down like three-year-olds at a birthday party, screaming, "Look-a me! Looka-me! Ain't I kewl?! Ah ate at a tapas restaurant and ordered a watered-down drink that wuz de-lish! Here's mah re-view..."


There's nothing more boring than thumbing through pages of wannabe hipster fluff scribbled by self-important kids, mebbe a year out of college, who're engaged in slang-dropping and hyperbole in the delusional belief they can score clips good enough to get the hell out of the underpaying Charlottesville market.

That tells you all you need to know about the local indie media scene.

...And only Jose Feliciano would think that gal on the cover is hot. Well, maybe Blind Lemon Jefferson, too, or some randy frat boy with too many jell-o shooters on his tab.


i just feel sad for some people

I've been reading Urge since its premiere issue. That Richmond and Virginia have incredible arts and cultural news is not surprising- but finding it all can be challenging. Urge aggregates the best of the best.

Terrific that they intend to cover more of the state in the future! Road trips are good when art is the destination.