RIP Surfer Magazine 1960 – 2020

Damn, this one hurts. For those who missed it, Surfer Magazine laid off the entirety of its staff on Friday. This is certainly the least important reason to mourn the closure of an iconic publication, but if it weren’t for Surfer Magazine you would not be reading these words right now.

Yes, Surfer’s coverage was often disproportionately skewed towards the goings on in Southern California, but in a day and age where surf brands are increasingly disconnected to the sport, Surfer was always about the act of riding waves and the culture surrounding it.

While one could say that Surfer dictated how we thought about the sport, I would argue that it simply gave surfers exactly what they wanted. It was impossible to open up an issue of Surfer and not encounter something that made you want to paddle out.

The media landscape has changed, and as disappointing as it is, Surfer’s demise is not surprising. Surfer long ago ceded the premium market to The Surfer’s Journal, and it lacked the nimbleness of outlets like Stab when it came to adapting to social media and younger audiences. And while Surfer might be done (for now, anyway), I take solace in the fact that there is arguably no better time for those of us who enjoy surfing content. Quality surf media has never been more plentiful or easy to access. Social media and YouTube have enabled new and compelling modes of expression that bring us closer than ever before.

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This is the last issue of @surfer_magazine. The whole staff got let go yesterday (no, nothing to do with the heat from the Biden endorsement 😂, just the Covid economy), but I feel like we’re ending on a high note with this one. The cover shot was taken by @donaldmiralle during the Encinitas paddle out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Inside has some of my all-time favorite features from my all-time favorite surf writers— @smashtyn_douglas , @hzahorseman and @seano888 —and a piece by me about the LGBTQ+ surf community that was the honor of my career to work on, and I’m so grateful to the subjects for trusting me with their stories. Funny how you can work a job like this for 10 years and each issue is a completely new and different journey. I’ll really miss that part, and the mag in general, which ends on this issue after 60 years of publication. Hope you all enjoy the issue and thanks for reading over the years. Lots of love to everyone I had the privilege of working with to make this thing what it was while we could: @grantellis1 @petertaras @smashtyn_douglas @quest_haven @alexkilauano @brendon_thomas @jannairons @bryce_lowe_white @donnystevens @zandermorton @benik__ @codyandchelsea @junkmail_ @thomasbpearson @leisurelabor @newittjim @joshtsaunders @jeremyschluntz @theslipperysaltwaterchronicles @tonyapolloperez @stevehawk6211 @adam_jara @theraybergman @kstravs @seano888 @hzahorseman @alexwebbwilson @aaron_carrera @toddglaser @chachfiles @encyclopedia_of_surfing @micah_abrams and so many more ❤️

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I hope Surfer Magazine returns better than ever. Print might not have the scale and the cost efficiency of digital media, but it’s special to be able to flip open a magazine and see something that could change how you think. I wish Surfer Magazine could have lasted another sixty years, but over its six decades of existence, it always lived up to its tagline as “the Bible of the sport”, and that is worth celebrating. Many thanks to John Severson and everyone else who contributed to Surfer over the years, for creating something truly special.

Photo at the top of the page is “Wild Angels”, by John Severson, and via Facebook.

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  1. Russ says:

    100 %
    Great words.