New Year, New Start for the Flyer 

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For the past 23 years, I've driven to work along the same route — west on Peabody Avenue from my Midtown home, then into downtown on Vance, before turning south on Front Street to the Flyer's offices in an old coffee warehouse high on the bluff above Tom Lee Park. It was an ingrained routine — a 12-minute commute — one that seldom varied. It gave me just enough time to gather my thoughts for the day ahead.

That all changed with the turning of the new year. On January 2nd, I drove to the Flyer's new offices in the venerable Cotton Exchange Building at Union and Front. Our former landlord had decided he wanted to turn our huge, haphazard, and disorderly office space into condominium units. It's hard to blame him, since the South end of downtown is booming with new condos and apartments. Why not cash in, I guess.

So, after being in the same place for 35 years, our funky crew of writers, designers, ad sales folks, marketing people, and all the rest got fresh digs. Sure, we grumbled. We groused. We bitched. We're experts at that. It's what we do best. But we made it.

The biggest fear we had — and the biggest change we faced — was adapting to a smaller space. We're much closer to each other now; no longer do we have the long, rambling hallways of our former office, with its massive interior oak timbers and ever-popular warehouse loading dock for parties. Now our elevators are shiny and brass instead of being coated with warehouse-gray paint. And we have codes! — to the stairs and the elevators and the parking garage — and actual office windows, overlooking streets with actual people walking around!

And we're slowly but surely getting used to walking to lunch, with a couple dozen dining options within a block or two. We're learning that downtown alleys are fun to explore — so many shortcuts! So it's all nice, for the most part.

Some other good things are happening, as well. The Flyer's social media presence is booming these days, thanks to great fresh content — and our digital and content managers, Kevin Lipe and Matthew Preston. In fact, we've recently blown by The Commercial Appeal — and all other print media in town, for that matter — with our Facebook traffic numbers.

Ad sales are up, year over year. Our paper pickup rate hasn't changed in decades — and that's a very good thing. It's consistently over 92 percent, one of the highest rates in the country for papers like ours, and that's thanks to constant monitoring by distribution and delivery managers Lynn Sparagowski and Robbie French.

We've hired some new folks in the past year — including a great young reporter, Maya Smith, and two former CA stalwarts, Michael Donahue and Jon Sparks. Our arts coverage is second to none, thanks to Chris Davis (theater), Alex Greene (music), and Chris McCoy (film). And when you think politics in Memphis, only Jackson Baker comes to mind (or should). Wrangling their words (and assignments) are managing editor Susan Ellis and associate editor Toby Sells. And I'd be remiss in not mentioning copy editor Jesse Davis and our indomitable calendar editor, Julie Ray.

None of it would happen without ad director Justin Rushing, sales execs Kelli DeWitt and Chip Googe, classified ad director DeShaune McGhee, and her sales folks, who keep us in business. And as long as this is turning into a name-check column, I have to toss big kudos to longtime art director Carrie Beasley and crew: Chris Myers, Bryan Rollins, and Jeremiah Matthews.

There are many others, of course, who make it possible to get the Flyer into your hands and online, but I'm running out of space. Check the masthead to the left of this column. But since it's a new year and new day, and this is the first issue produced from our new offices, I think it's only right to recognize those folks who are putting it all together for you. All of us are grateful for your support for the past 29 years and look forward to many more, especially now that my commute is only eight minutes.

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


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