Wow! How nice of you all, but I am the one to thank YOU!! It has been my joy to spend the last 14 years with this group and this magazine.
I'm not a shy person and certainly not one with a brevity of words, so I would like to give a few personal observations and thoughts since I will be retiring very soon and will most likely forget how to easily find this forum again. I’ve designed magazines for seven different hobby clubs over the last 20 years and every single one of them now have declining memberships. You don’t have to be a genius to surmise what the various reasons might be (free services online, young people don’t join clubs as much as 20 years ago, cost of dues, not as much interest in antique cars, health/death of older club members, cost of hobby, not enough benefit out of clubs, etc. etc.). Good chance, no matter what is done in any of these clubs, it’s not going to change the numbers dramatically. That doesn’t mean the club shouldn’t try to lure new members, but wringing our hands over this issue, year after year after year — and pointing fingers or expecting someone, or something, to change the dynamics is just a waste of energy. Instead, enjoy what you have and help to contribute something positive when you can. For the most part, this is a really great group of people.
(An aside — the Bugle posts a list of new members every other issue, not every issue. Out of curiosity I did a quick count of the new members we listed last year, March 2019 to February 2020. The total number of new members was 569, more or less. I’m not sure this has any significance, but thought it was worth passing on.)
The Bugle is only one of the benefits of a BCA membership. From what we’ve been told from past surveys, the majority of members like it a lot and look forward to the printed copy each month. Others are happy with the online E-version at a cheaper rate. I’d expect to have more and more of those going forward. And I assume there are some members who don’t care a bit about getting the magazine and throw it in the trash upon delivery. Can the Bugle be improved? Of course. Hire the top editor in the country, a team of graphic designers, and a printer who publishes only top of the line publications and you’ll have an improved magazine. But even then there will be members who will complain … because … well, for some people that’s just what they do. None of you, of course 🤪
Anyone familiar with magazine production knows that the art director does not make editorial decisions. Art directors are basically page designers. We try to design each magazine page using the paid advertisements, text and images that are sent to us each month, hoping to present articles and other information in an interesting, attractive and easy to understand manner. I have my own views of what I like to see in the Bugle, of course, but I am only one of 6,000+ members. I personally like a wide variety of topics. I can usually find something of interest in most any topic if written and presented well. I don’t understand tech reports, but I really like to see them in the magazine because I think most members enjoy reading them. I wish we had more. Meet applications, lists of tech advisors, chapters and division, voting ballots and other business information is all part of our obligation to membership, but I really hate using expensive color pages for those b/w necessities. Some people don't want to see any of it because it doesn't change a lot. Others complain if we leave something out even one month. Letters to the editor can be interesting and I like getting feedback about an article that was previously printed, but long-winded complaints about the club are just incendiary and boring to most readers. As for BCA club business, I think a financial report should be sent to all members every single year without fail. I prefer a separate mailing – not printed within the body of the magazine. But if it saves a lot of money, using the mailwrap for that is fine too. I basically would like to receive something like an end-of-year corporate report to members (share holders). I’d like to see more BOD reports printed within the magazine – maybe half a page feature every month or every other month — just to have an idea of what issues they are working on, but I don’t care about all the details or votes that the BOD makes. And this is one thing I know for sure: For every one person who wants multi-page detailed financial reports printed in the Bugle, along with all of the BOD minutes and votes taken each month, there are ten members who don’t give a damn and are furious to have expensive color magazine pages wasted on that kind of “boring” information. The vast majority of members are in this club for fun, like-minded friendships and car information — not Board votes or infighting about the inner workings of the club. Pete (and I) do our best to strike a balance, but it’s not always easy and those decisions will never make every single member happy. And THAT truly is a fact!
About Pete: I wish I could adequately articulate how hard he works to try to present a variety of articles throughout the year. Early Buicks, late model Buicks, barn-find originals, expertly restored award winners, old Buick dealerships, Buicks located in other countries (Cuba, Germany, Italy, Australia), tour reports, chapter meets, auctions, tech articles, etc. etc. Where do you think these articles come from? Thin air? Pete writes a lot of the articles himself, but we also beg people to contribute to the magazine – to send a personal story about their car or a road trip or a meet they attended or a tech article about some repair they made. And if we receive something and it is even half-way decently written, we print it. So if you don’t like what you see in the Bugle – or would like to see more of a particular topic, there IS something you can do about it. How many articles did you contribute to the Bugle last year? Look at page 3 of every issue to see what’s coming up in a future issue, and if you know something about that model or topic, contact Pete and offer your expertise or send literature that he can use…or offer to write an article. Some of you here are multi-article contributors and I’d like to personally thank you for what you have done in the Bugle. It is truly appreciated.
For those who know me, you already know how much I’ve loved designing this magazine and how much I’ve enjoyed working with so many of you on this forum. I’ve had extraordinary creative freedom in this job and almost zero micromanaging from Pete or the BCA board. I’ve been a very happy camper and stayed with this magazine longer than any other. But I am finally retiring - in FIVE days! The March issue was my last and it is finished – already with the publishing company. I had planned to retire two years ago, but decided to stay through the 2019 National Meet in Oklahoma, mostly because Pete was in charge of it and I wanted to help him with advertising. I have a ton of projects that I want to start (or finish) and I’m really looking forward to those. Just hope I can be disciplined enough to set deadlines without a printer breathing down my neck. The new art director, Shannon Olson, is already hard at work on the April issue. I'll hang around for a bit in case she needs anything, but she's quite experienced and I know she'll do a great job. I just hope she has half the fun I’ve had designing the Bugle.
I will miss a lot of you, plan to stay a BCA member and read the Bugle each month — and be surprised to not know what is in it ahead of time, but that will be half the fun! I might peek in every once in a while just to see who is behaving and who isn’t – but bye for now!