by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & More Music, More Problems
At the end of May, one measly issue away from its first birthday, The Spokane Sidekick indelicately ("F**k you, this isn't working") closed its doors. Publisher Andy Rowse said the bimonthly entertainment paper was impossible to keep afloat. He and cohort Brian Clark had mountainous college debt, and the thin margins weren't cutting it.
The scene mourned, I wrote an unasked-for obituary that Clark allegedly hated, and our little town carried on. Now, though, Sidekick has been revived by a guy named Bryan Schwaderer. It's rebooting as a weekly, but staying at 24 pages. That's a lot more work, so they're adding another staffer, bringing the total to three: Schwaderer, Ben Mancke and Leigh-Anne Bartle.
That means, basically, that Schwaderer plans to make an unprofitable paper profitable by increasing overhead and printing costs. Sound crazy? Hold up, dude has a plan.
"We've got people actually selling ads," he says. Good thinking. Where Clark and Rowse were men of vision and words, Schwaderer does money. Targeting the 18-to-25-year-old demographic that 7 mis-underestimates and The Inlander just misses, says Schwederer, he's looking to fill a niche that advertisers are clamoring for.
To find the content readers will be clamoring for -- well, that's easier. "We want to cover everything," he says. Especially music. Any gig happening in a week gets written up. Gutsy. People read entertainment publications to know how to spend their time. Having all their options in one place is a potentially enormous service to readers. There's a problem, though.
In publications that write up three or four bands a week, there's an implicit "this is good unless we tell you otherwise" code at work that the reader intuitively understands. If Sidekick writes about everything, there ceases to be any sense of which bands are worthwhile. As a reader, I implore the new Sidekick -- and Bartle especially who will be handling "most" (?!) of the writing load -- to do something the old Sidekick never dreamed of: Tell people if a band sucks. Just do it. Readers will thank you.
Sidekick rejoins the living on Sept. 6. That's more than enough time to implement my sage advice.