Goes Live

Gus Wenner photo by Sacha Lecca

Gus Wenner, photo by Sacha Lecca debuted yesterday (June 1), and is the iconic magazine’s first franchise dedicated to a single genre. Senior Editor Beville Dunkerley is heading the publication’s first Nashville outpost from offices on 16th Ave. S. Also on board is Senior Editor Joseph Hudak.

To coincide with the website launch, the June 19 issue of Rolling Stone magazine will be its first all-Country edition. The cover will be revealed tomorrow, Tues., June 3 on Good Morning America. As of now, no plans have been announced for a regularly scheduled print magazine devoted to Country.

“For the week of our launch, we’ve crafted an editorial calendar that shows the breadth of our coverage,” said Dunkerley. “We have three huge interviews: one with a heritage act, one with a current chart-topper and one with a brand new act that’s causing a lot of buzz. Whether people love [artists like] Emmylou Harris or Taylor Swift or Sturgill Simpson, we have a little something for everybody.”

Given Country music’s ties to the roots of rock ‘n’ roll, Director Gus Wenner said that delving into the Country world isn’t a huge leap for the publication co-founded by his father Jann Wenner in 1967. “Everyone here in this building has a deep understanding of music history, and a deep love for rock ‘n’ roll,” said Gus Wenner on a recent call from his office in New York. “Country and bluegrass formed rock ‘n’ roll and all the artists that we have covered so heavily throughout the years, whether it’s Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan, have been greatly influenced by Country music.”

Beville Dunkerley

Beville Dunkerley

Driven by a deep appreciation for genre stalwarts George Jones, Tom T. Hall, Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton, Gus Wenner and his team began discussing the possibility of a Country franchise last year. “It is a genre where there are so many fascinating things going on that we started talking about covering more Country on the website and people began to get on board and come up with editorial ideas. So I went down to Nashville to get a sense of the culture, musicians and the music industry.”

His exploratory trips to Music City solidified his plans to start RS Country. “I idolized Nashville a little, after years of listening to Nashville Skyline, and watching the show, and hearing so many great things about it,” he said. “But when I went down there it went above and beyond [my expectations]. Being in a place where the craft of songwriting is appreciated so much really left an impression on me. To be around so many people who had such a deep love for music and people who say what they think—I was blown away and impressed. I felt like that was the green light to put resources, and everything we have, behind this.” (Rolling Stone publisher Chris McLoughlin told Ad Age that $1 million was being spent on the site’s launch.)

According to Dunkerley, who previously started the Country news site The Boot, RS Country will cover plenty of “music nerd stuff.” The site will have about eight news posts per day, including song and video premieres, executive profiles, songwriter spotlights, unique video content, and day-in-the-life pieces, covering everything from mainstream Country stars to their neighbors in the Americana and bluegrass worlds. Freelance writers will contribute to the site’s content, as Dunkerley and Hudak are the only full-time local staffers.

Rolling Stone Country is likely to follow in the footsteps of its parent publication and stir up a little controversy from time to time. “We’re going to tackle controversial topics,” said Dunkerley. “We’re not going to glorify music that we don’t respect, and a lot of bad music is on the top of the charts. That’s not to say that we’re going to ignore it, but we’re not going to glorify it. We’ll try not to offend too many people, but oftentimes it is the more controversial articles that end up being water cooler fodder and leads to more eyeballs on the site.”

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Did you know? The logos of MusicRow magazine and Rolling Stone magazine were both created by the late graphic designer Bill Johnson.


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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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