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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Metro Times turns 35

Posted By on Thu, Oct 15, 2015 at 12:58 PM

It’s true. This week, Metro Times turns 35. And we’ve come a long way from the biweekly newsprint rag with the two-color cover that debuted in mid-October of 1980. Back then, Jimmy Carter was president, the Cold War was in full swing, the Internet was still a glimmer in Al Gore’s eye.

That’s when Ron Williams and Laura Markham, fresh out of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, had the idea of starting an “alternative” weekly newspaper here in the autumn of 1980. It had been done elsewhere, but, as Williams later put it, Detroit “had already swallowed up more experienced, more talented and better-funded enterprises.”

Nevertheless, the two started up a publication with just $5,000 and an office of second-hand furniture made out of cardboard, aiming to produce a magazine that would mix “Rolling Stone’s cultural sense crossed with Chicago lefty paper In These Times’ politics.” This was long before the term “social entrepreneur” entered widespread use.

Remarkably, in 35 years, many of the “fringe” ideas MT was almost alone in cheering on have come to fruition. Back then you could have named your bet that we’d see same-sex marriage, legal recreational marijuana, and a black president in 2015. 

We don’t have any splashy anniversary package for you this year, but those who are interested in the magazine’s history can scan through our 2010 summary of the magazine’s first 30 years, as written by then-editor W. Kim Heron.

Much has changed even in the last five years. MT has merged with its competition, has a new owner, Euclid Media, and has new digs in Ferndale. We’ve kept up with the times, expanding our reach, finding readers not just on laptops but smart phones.

And as we move into this brave new era of click-bait, listicles and emojis, we promise our readers we’ll struggle to keep that combination of things that makes a weekly magazine work: style, wit, relevance, feistiness, and, most importantly, profitability.

Thanks for staying with us.

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