|Mark Noble, Ride BMX UK #8, december 1993: What can you say about Bmx Action magazine ? This was widely considered to be the bible for anyone who has ever shod a set of Comp 3's. Riders still miss it, even today. I've even known people to have Bmx Action parties, where old issues would be read cover-to-cover by all present. It deserved massive amounts of respect and was the epitome of the very essence of BMX in printed form. Went down the tubes along with the demise of Wizard Publications.
Publisher: Bob Osborn, Wizard publications..
Editor: Bob Osborn, Steve Giberson, Craig gork Barrette (from '85 to '89).
Contributors: Bob Haro, Spike Jonze, Chris maddog Moeller, ...
|Bob Osborn, BMX Action, december 1986: R.L. used to ride his bike all the time when he was like six, seven, eight years old, you know. And that was back when a wheelie was really something; I mean, a short wheelie ten feet long was really something. And if you could wheelie the whole block, like the kid in 'On Any Sunday' did -you were amazing. Well, R.L. rode his bike enough 'til finally he could wheelie that thing a whole block. He'd set up a little wooden jump out in front of the house in the street, stuff like that. At the time, it really impressed me. And I'm thinking, 'that's really great, but it's not going to take him anywhere? So one day l told him, in best parent fashion, what I felt. In fact I still remember those words, almost exactly. I told him, 'Shorty, what you're doing with the bike is terrific ... it's great, but I got to tell you, it's a dead end street. It won't take you anywhere? That's my most famous quote in the whole world. That was before anything. That was before 'On Any Sunday,' that was before BMX Action was even a gleem in our eye?'
Probably a year or so after that, we went to see 'On Any Sunday', and all of a sudden, this idea is accidentally presented to us and a million other people by Bruce Brown (the director and cameraman for O.A.S.) And so we came home from there, and every time we saw a vacant lot, we'd be thinking, 'man you could put in a bicycle track here, for motocross kind of racing, and you could. . . One day we heard about this kid in Long Beach who started a BMX track. He did what I was afraid to do, to tell you the truth. He just found a vacant lot, put a track in, went and got some of his old motorcycle trophies, and started running races. This guy was a promoter. Of course, everybody knows him as Scot Breithaupt and his B.U.M.S. track."
A little while after we heard about that, we heard something about BMX in Redondo Beach. There was a little blurb in the paper that said they were thinking of starting a track, and there was going to be a meeting at the City Hall. Well as it turns out, there was this councilman on Redondo Beach's city council who owned a bike shop that wasn't doing very good. So he came up with the idea that if he could get a BMX track started near his bike shop, he'd make a lot of money. That's okay though, because he went out of business anyway. But it got the track started. We ended up building the track and running it. It was great. After we got the track off the ground, I ended up doing something that I'd put off for a long time; and that was buying a camera. 'Cause I knew that once I got one, that was it. Boy, that was it. And I'll tell you-that sure changed things. I started getting into some freelance writing and photography, and BMX was poopin' along pretty good, and I'm thinking,'Uh,huh ... l can do my photography, which R. L. isn't interested in worth a darn, and R.L. can do his BMX, and I'll just take pictures of him.
Now this newspaper, BMX News, comes along, and I figured heck, maybe this lady would like to have some pictures and stories... maybe we could do some tests for her, or something like that. So I offered our services-our services meaning the whole Arvada street gang-all these kids that had helped build the Dominguez track. She said, 'Yeah, fine,' so we proceeded to do all the tests for her. Somewhere in here, one day when I was running the races at Dominguez, I asked Windy, 'Why don't you take a couple of pictures?' I told her about one or two things-how to push the button, how to wind it, how to take a light reading and match the needles up, and how to lead the guy if they're moving just go take some pictures. I figured that'll get her off my back for a while (laughter) ... give her something to do. A day or two later, I processed the negatives, and ran proof sheets on 'em, and the darn things were great! I couldn't believe it, I mean they were GREAT! They were probably every bit as good as mine, and I'd been working like night and day for two years, studying everything I could get ahold of. From day number one, she was just an absolute natural photographer.
Elaine Holt, the owner of BMX news, let the pressure get to her and she started doing articles like 'Last month in revue' or 'Last year in revue' . . . What are you working on, now? What's yours called? 'The past ten years in revue'? (laughter) Anyway, every issue that came out, it was just re-runs. Just a re-hash. It was around this time when I was thinking, somebody's going to come out with a slick magazine, and it's going to be great!
"I went over to Hi-Torque publications, who put out Motocross Action and Dirt Bike, and talked to Bill Golden, the owner. I tried to convince him to do a BMX magazine, and he had just started up a van magazine and a skateboard magazine, and something else, and he wasn't much interested in BMX, so he didn't do it. As it turned out, his van magazine, his skateboard magazine, and whatever else it was that he had started, all died. Then Elaine started thinking about selling BMX News and asked me if I'd want to buy it. She offered to sell me 50% interest in BMX News for $7000. This was back in about early '76. "It came up to the night before I was going to buy the thing -I had the money in the bank, ready to write a check, and all that stuff, and Elaine called me up and said, 'I talked to my accountant, and he advised me to not take a penny less than $25,000. I just started laughing. I told her, 'Elaine, for that much money, I could start a magazine-a slick newsstand magazine!' Had I known then what I know now... man! What I didn't know was that the death rate of magazines is over 99%."
So about a month later, we started it. I borrowed some money on my house-here's a little bit more of the financials... I borrowed $10,000 on my house, my sister loaned me $10,000 and another guy put in $10,000-whom I bought out a year or two later. So now there was $30,000 into the start of this magazine. This company was evaluated about ahhh, four months ago at being worth somewhere between eight and ten million dollars."
Now, I'd like to tell you that this was all really shrewd planning on my part and I knew exactly what I was going to do, but I guarantee you that I didn't know beans from beans. All I knew-and if there's a secret of success, this is all you have to know was that I just loved every part of BMX, and photography, and that I wanted to do the absolute best thing that I could. That's all. Let's go back to the famous quote when I told R.L. that 'I'm really sorry Shorty, but this bicycle riding stuff is a dead end street.' It doesn't matter! Look where R.L. is now. It doesn't matter what you do. What does matter is, do you love it?
I had no idea that this thing would turn into this big of a deal financially. It didn't matter. If I had gone into this saying, 'Man, I'm going to make tons of money!' It would've died. I'd have been one of the 99 percent. I've learned the secret. You just put on blinders and forget all you need to know... all I needed to know was that I love this thing.
|Steve Giberson, www.roostbmx.com: I'd shown off a couple items I'd made for my bike to Bob Osborn at various races. He'd had me contribute a few articles. Then at a race at Grass Valley, he was asking me about someone he was thinking of hiring for a darkroom position at the magazine. The light bulb flashed on over my head, and I told him I'd be interested in that position. I probably started there a month or so later. I moved out from my parent's house, and rented a room from Rod Beckering's grandma. Later on, Todd Huffman also lived there in the other room she rented out. I started off working in the darkroom, doing errands around the warehouse, etc. The worked out great, because I was still racing. Later, after I was starting to taper off on my racing (I ended up breaking my right collar bone seven times), he started asking me about doing more writing for the magazine. When he decided to move me into the editor's seat, I think I basically got a four-year education in writing and photography in about six months. It was brutal, but worth it. I worked there for exactly six years. The last two and a half were as the editor.
It was pretty cool. All BMX all the time, and always trying to better the previous issue. It's always fun to be tapped into the nerve center of an industry. There were also some fun creative people to work with. Andy Jenkins, Spike, Lew, etc. The only bogus part was politics like when BMXA was boycotting ABA races, having a required amount of R.L. to put in every issue, stuff like that. I mean, I liked R.L., he and I were roommates for quite a while, but having recommended monthly allowances of coverage was a little weird. After BMXA I did a stint at Redline as the Team Manager. I spent a few years at Challenge Publications on Super BMX and their Freestyle title, then moved over to Mountain Biking magazine when they folded up the BMX titles. After that I moved up near San Jose, CA, to work at Specialized Bicycle Components. While up there I was their Tech Writer/Multimedia guy. I worked on some fun projects: a CD-ROM of one of their bike lines, some non-linear video editing for dealer training videos, and the whole web thing blew up while I was there. I also spent time working on developing web site content with their web site agency.
Steve Giberson, www.roostbmx.com: Oz had a "vision" of what the industry would be like in a few years. He used the motorcycle industry as a comparison, where there were originally many companies, including the European brands like DKW, Monarch, Maico, Montesa, Bultaco, etc., plus the Japanese brands. He figured that BMX would narrow down to a few major players, and devised a plan. He went to four of the major companies, and told them that if they advertised a certain amount per issue, maybe 4-5 pages, that they would get the dominant editorial coverage. It was promised to them. Honestly, I wasn't too psyched about the idea, but I had to play along, it was his magazine. Anyway, the first issue came out, and it had a lot of GT in it. The next issue came out, and it had a lot of Hutch. All of a sudden, every other company is complaining, and it was all my fault. I don't think I was there much longer after that.