The Short Goodbye

Editor In Chief, Marc Cook, says goodbye.

Motorcyclist staff at Indianapolis MotoGP in 2014
The Motorcyclist staff at Indianapolis MotoGP in 2014, minus our latest addition, Julia LaPalme, who joined in 2015.©Motorcyclist

I came up in a time when motorcycle journalists told the story—they weren’t the story themselves—so my almost automatically negative reaction to cults of personality or individual brand building at least has a logical underpinning. (It’s not just that I’m a cranky old f—k.) And that’s why it’s difficult for me to sit here, say goodbye, and take credit for what this magazine—sorry, “media brand”—is today.

Like baseball, this is a team sport. I’ve been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by a magnificent group of hard-working staff members who truly live and breathe motorcycling. This is nothing you can fake. True enthusiasm reveals itself in a deep understanding of our sport and a passion for what we do. I’ve always known that our readers are among the most involved, hands-on motorcyclists on the planet, so we have to be on our game.

In the year before I got the call to head MC, I did a little freelance work for our now-sister magazine Cycle World. At one of the product launches I covered I sat at a technical briefing behind a young man with dreadlocks who asked very good questions and, later, rode with an intelligence that belied his age. But what struck me was his intensity. While these press events can become fairly fraternal, Ari Henning was all business. It's a good description of the man: He takes everything he does—including writing and starring in our successful MC Garage videos—seriously, like it's all going to be on the final exam. A hint, Ari: It is.

Ari was here when I started and, when we had an opening, he strongly suggested we bring in childhood buddy Zack Courts. I met Zack at the magazine's big 100th party in 2012 and knew I was going to hire him in about 10 minutes. His evident riding skills and racing background were impressive, but he was also a cheerful, outgoing young man. So much of the relationship building done in our industry hangs on how a brand is represented by its core people, and I knew Zack would do us proud. I was not wrong.

The poly-talented Aaron Frank was our Midwest Desk at the time, an invaluable aid to me, with an encyclopedic knowledge of what the magazine had done in recent years and an ear for written cadence and style second to none. He often took a day or two longer to finish a story, and it was worth the wait every single time.

“I’ve always known that our readers are among the most involved, hands-on motorcyclists on the planet, so we have to be on our game.”

In these four years, I've been given the opportunity to build an amazing team, recently adding Julia LaPalme—fantastic photographer, true moto enthusiast—along with Kathleen Conner as our art director and Brian Hatano as the master of our digital realm (almost singlehandedly responsible for getting us above 1 million Facebook followers). Although not strictly one of "my guys," our video producer, Spenser Robert, deserves a shout-out. He's simply phenomenal.

Truth is, I am more proud of bringing this group of professionals together, offering them the benefit of my three decades in the business, and trying to give them the tools to do a terrific job than I am of anything I’ve written here, any planning meeting I’ve attended, or any Excel spreadsheet I’ve completed.

Even more change is on the horizon. In the spring, Motorcyclist will switch to a six-times-a-year format that will allow it to have many more pages per issue, a larger physical format, much nicer paper, and even a fancy cover treatment. Our research shows that the much-coveted younger consumer wants print and wants it to be high quality. That's the direction this magazine is headed, one taken successfully by much bigger Bonnier brands such as Popular Science.

Of course, none of this matters without an audience. I’ve never thought of you as a number, a statistic. Every reader is a person who wants more out of motorcycling, to be educated and entertained, scandalized every so often, and occasionally reminded what a great sport this is. I consider it a privilege to have helped create the last four-plus years of your two-wheeled fix. Thank you, and so long.