Last summer I got horrible news: my pit bull, Jasmine Blue, had cancer. I took her to UC Davis Veterinary Hospital for treatment because it’s considered the gold standard, and I wanted to give Jazzy every possible chance to survive. Dr. Kent, her oncologist, decided on a course of 16 radiation treatments, five days a week for three hours. Since driving back and forth every day between Davis and San Francisco was not an option, and because my job allows me to work remotely, I decided that Jazzy and I would move to Davis and live at a motel for a month. When we arrived for our first week last September, it was a bazillion degrees, but the motel had air conditioning – and a pool. I got in the habit of swimming every evening after Jazzy and I went for our walk in the campus arboretum and she was passed out on the bed snoring in front of the air conditioner. But my hair, which was long and thick, took forever to dry even in the bazillion-degree heat. I decided it was time to cut it off.
I have a horrible sense of direction, so when I searched for a hair salon in Davis, I worried that I would never find it. The first salon that popped up was called “All That Jazz,” and I figured it must be a sign – my dog’s name is Jazz, after all. When I looked at the address, I recognized it was on the same street as our motel – in fact, it was in the little shopping center where I went every day to pick up groceries at the Nugget Market (Davis’s charming and well-stocked version of Whole Foods). I called and made an appointment for the following Thursday.
After dropping Jazzy off for her treatment that morning, I arrived at All That Jazz. The owner, Valerie, led me to her chair, and as she took my hair from long and wild to short and manageable, we talked. She asked me what I was doing in Davis and what I did for a living. When I told her that I owned a magazine called Northside San Francisco and a newspaper called the Marina Times, her eyes lit up. “My brother lives in the Marina and is in the publishing industry,” she said. “Maybe you’ve heard of him – Earl Adkins.” I glanced at her in the mirror through my wet bangs. “Focus magazine Earl Adkins?” I asked. She nodded. Focus had always been one of my favorite publications, I told her. I remember it was the only magazine my opera teacher had in her waiting room. She was an avid KQED supporter, and Focus (now San Francisco magazine) was the publication for KQED. After Earl took over as publisher, Focus went from a $200,000-a-year project to a $6.5 million publication, at one time the fastest growing subscription magazine in the country. It was witty, entertaining and exceedingly well written. “I’d love to talk to Earl about my publications,” I told Valerie. “I can give him your cell phone number,” she said, “but I can’t make any promises. He doesn’t really have to work any more. He basically spends his days going to lunch with his friends.”
A life, I thought, most people would envy, so why would he want to get involved in two growing publications?
Earl’s career spans four decades and included stints as president and publisher of IDG’s Publish! magazine; and publisher of Honolulu magazine, Northern California Home and Garden, and BAM magazine. He was two-time president of the City and Regional Magazine Association and a member of the executive committee of KQED. He helped launch the careers of some publishing powerhouses including former 7x7 executive publisher Susie McCormick, writers Adair Lara and Amy Rennert (now a successful literary agent), and award-winning artist Mark Ulriksen.
While I tried not to get too excited, I found myself waiting for the phone to ring like a high school girl waiting for an invitation to the prom. And then he called. “I’ve seen your publications,” he said. “Sure, let’s get together.”
Over the next several months, Earl and I met and talked about various ways he could help as a consultant, and it was during those talks that we realized we had an opportunity to do something special here. It had been a long time, Earl said, since he’d been excited about a project, waking up in the middle of the night with ideas. And so we decided to forge a partnership, and as of last month, Earl Adkins became publisher of Northside San Francisco and the Marina Times. I will remain editor in chief and continue to focus on the editorial side.
There’s a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we are excited about the future. Now there are two of us waking up in the middle of the night with ideas – look for them to come to fruition in the months ahead as we take Northside S.F. and the Marina Times to the next level.
Welcome our new publisher, Earl Adkins
Welcome our new publisher, Earl Adkins