Notes from the final four months of 'Real Detroit Weekly'


Dec 17, 2014 at 1:00 am

For 15 years southeast Michigan had two alt-weeklies. Metro Times and Real Detroit Weekly had long been considered rival outlets, though they covered vastly different subject matter. But, on May 7, 2014 when the final issue of Real Detroit Weekly was being delivered to metal racks across metro Detroit, the two papers were feverishly working to become one, having merged moments after their last papers as separate entities went to press on Monday evening.

Days before that final RDW hit the streets, both papers' staffs learned that though they were long competitors, the two companies would soon merge into one monster weekly, a super paper that would be the biggest of its kind in the country.

In the final months that led up to the merger, Real Detroit Weekly covered local musicians like Jamaican Queens, Clear Soul Forces, George Morris and the Gypsy Chorus, Mike Leslie, The Muggs, The Witches, Mayer Hawthorne, and Tunde Olaniran. We favored electronic artists like Detroit Swindle, Moon Boots, Pillow Talk, Kill Frenzy, and Till Von Sein, and even interviewed huge acts like the Pixies, TLC, and Miley Cyrus. One of RDW's most popular stories was Ashley Zlatopolsky's spread on Detroit's rising electronic stars. The sprawling (by RDW standards) editorial covered Kevin Reynolds, Golf Clap, Secrets, Gabi, Dru Ruiz, ATAXIA, Kyle Hall, How to Kill, and more, and earned a record number of hits for the paper's website.

One of the paper's final issues, the April 23 issue, featured Detroit-based Motown-inspired group the Infatuations on its cover. The feature story clearly did bring the band success, as their front man Caleb Gutierrez recently called it quits as their lead singer, just eight months after being interviewed by the rag.

While music was a large part of the paper's weekly content, RDW's pages also included stories on culture, food, and even style. The January 22, 2014 issue featured winter fashion and the spread included epic shots from inside the Detroit Opera House and Coach Insignia captured by Jacob Lewkow, and high-end fashion as styled by Soonie Itawi.

The rag always favored parties and in keeping with its penchant for nearly-naked and hot little numbers, two of the paper's final 19 covers featured drinking affairs — Polar Beer Club, a yearly winter beer fest, and Oh La La Lucha, a new event from Imperial and Public House. In true RDW fashion, these issues' front pages were plastered with bright colors and bikini-clad blondes.

The paper's final issue featured Sixto Rodriguez on its cover, and an accompanying story that was sans an interview with the particularly elusive musician.