Rob Kurek, AMA’s Director of Communications, discusses his role in the launch of Park Pilot magazine
Clarissa Poston: What inspired the creation of Park Pilot magazine?
Rob Kurek: Direction from the Executive Council and executive director to launch the program with a print publication in 2007.
CP: When was it initially decided to launch a second magazine?
RK: May 2007.
CP: How long did it take for the magazine to come to life?
RK: Just over six months, from concept to the first issue being printed in early December.
CP: Who was involved in the planning/creation of Park Pilot?
RK: Several individuals. Once I hired Jeff Troy as editor, he had to find the writers and contributors to build content.
CP: What goals were in mind when launching Park Pilot magazine?
RK: The magazine was launched as part of the Park Pilot Program, a separate membership category. The intent was to provide members [with] a magazine of their own, one aimed at their interests in smaller, slower, and less-expensive park flyer model aircraft. It quickly became evident [that] traditional members who were not enrolled in the Park Pilot Program were interested as well, so we offered the magazine to them. The price point of $9.95 for a one-year subscription stayed the same for the duration of the magazine. Members could add this to their membership at a discounted price compared to what nonmembers would pay.
CP: Were there any initial hurdles that had to be surpassed in order to launch the magazine? How were they surpassed?
RK: We basically had six months to create a magazine from scratch—concept to rolling off the printing press. Most of the work was outsourced, and the same printer that prints Model Aviation was used.
CP: How does the current Park Pilot issue align with the initial goals for the magazine?
RK: Perhaps surprisingly, the content has remained relatively consistent other than adding small drones once they started becoming popular and fit within the model weight guidelines of the program.
CP: Was there a certain reason for the redesign of the magazine with the Winter 2015 issue?
RK: Most magazines go through a redesign process every few years. We thought Park Pilot should be no different. The idea is to give it a fresh look, at the very least. In that case, there were few changes made concerning magazine content.
CP: What inspired the digital version of Park Pilot?
RK: Most magazines have a digital version of some kind, and again, we thought Park Pilot should not be any different.
CP: How did the addition of a digital edition impact the print edition?
RK: I’m not sure it really did. Many of our members still prefer print to this day. It did provide an opportunity to add bonus content, to include videos.
CP: What was the feedback from readers about the digital edition, if any?
RK: I don’t recall.
CP: What’s one word that you would use to describe the journey of Park Pilot and its publication over the last 15 years?
CP: Has anything surprised you about the outcome of Park Pilot and its publication journey?
RK: That it lasted 15 years. Many specialty magazines that attempt to capture a current passion, hobby, or interest typically don’t last that long, as the market shifts to “the next most interesting thing.”
CP: Is there anything else that you’d like to mention about the creation/journey of Park Pilot?
RK: Creating a magazine from scratch is not for the faint of heart! On the other hand, it was a rewarding experience, one worth learning from. Of all of the newspaper, newsletter, website, and magazine launches that I have been a part of, this one was probably the most challenging and rewarding at the same time. I’m glad we had the opportunity to serve this special niche of members with the magazine, which will live on through digital archives for years to come.