Mike gives a witty account of what it is like to work for one of the world’s most popular ski magazines. Thank you Mike. And for the record, I’m up for hire!
[su_box title=”Interview with Powder Magazine’s Mike Rogge”]
JILLIAN: I find it interesting that you went from Digital Media to magazine publishing. Can you tell me what you did back in New York, and talk about your transition to California?
MIKE: My transition to California was a smooth one and I like to think of the move to print as my career as coming full circle. I started writing for Freeskier.com and Newschoolers.com while I was in college and interned for a great local newspaper in the Southern Adirondacks. After college, I took a position with Meathead Films and SkiTheEast.net as sort of a marketing and editorial manager. At that time I was living in Burlington and working with two people that could write a book on a Business 101. I learned more about hard work and having fun with those guys than anywhere else. When I heard the job at Powder was available, I jumped at the opportunity. Not that I wasnt completely content with my last position but the opportunity to work at Powder was one I couldn’t pass up.
JILLIAN: You carry a very impressive title as Associate Editor for Powder Magazine. Can you tell us what your job entails both on the travel and the editorial side?
MIKE: Thank you. On the editorial side, I’m responsible for assigning and top editing four sections of the magazine, working alongside the other editors to produce and edit the magazine, and dodging the rookie jabs I get from photo editor Dave Reddick.
Were nine months into the rookie hazing and I dont see him letting up anytime soon. It keeps me on my toes.
On the travel side, I’m just getting started. My niche has sort of been to cover the other side of skiing or as the founders of the magazine called it, the other skiing experience. I want to travel to places where the skiing doesn’t come easy but the skiers are the most dedicated. You can chalk that up to my roots on the East but really, those people are everywhere and I find them to be the most interesting.
JILLIAN: I really love your writing style. It’s humorous and factual and, as far as I can see, never boring. What are a few of your personality traits and the other writers for your magazine?
MIKE: That’s very nice of you to say. A lot of my writing style is directly influenced from my up bringing and the group of people I surround myself with. My parents and my sister have great senses of humor. With my friends from home, there is no line between appropriate and inappropriate humor. Everything is fair game and if you’re taking yourself too seriously, you won’t survive a night with them.
As far as the factual part is concerned, I think a lot of content in ski media today is over-the-top sensationalized. While every skier gets those epic days with his or her best friends, I’ve found it’s more relatable and fun to write about the days skiing in the rain with random people, or finding the wind buff on a sunny day. I get a lot of inspiration from Powder’s Jaded Local too. His style is very honest and blunt.
When it comes to our editorial and photo contributors, they are the best in action and outdoor sports. The stories they find in the tiny cracks of ski culture are a testament to their talent. I’m still getting to know all of them on a personal level but when their content comes in, it’s top-notch and makes my job easy and fun. They’re a diverse bunch of writers that love skiing. Who wouldn’t want to work with that kind of crew?
JILLIAN: You said you are working on a secret story from the 70’s in Aspen. Where do you get your leads from?
MIKE: That story came from Wikipedia and YouTube. I guess sometimes browsing the internet works.
JILLIAN: How do you find your stories?
MIKE: Talking to people. Everyone has a story to tell and most of them are worth telling. It’s up to me to find the way to tell it thats both interesting and informative. Powder’s Senior Editor, Matt Hansen, has really installed in me the idea to keep asking questions and go that extra step in interviews and in a larger context, life. Once you get past the formalities of an interview or an introduction, that’s where the good stuff starts to take shape. I’ve found skiers are the most interesting people to talk to because you go into the conversation knowing a majority of their life has been spent zipping down a hill.
JILLIAN: Powder Magazine is obviously on the up and up with the social media. Do you have a team for that?
MIKE: Currently the social media team is me, myself, and I with support from the other members of the edit staff. Powder readers are passionate and connecting with them via Facebook and Twitter has been fun and interesting.
JILLIAN: What social media events have you been to lately?
MIKE: I don’t attend social media events. Nate Abbott recently tweeted something about a bunch of dorks in a room talking about being dorks, which is funny. While I identify with other social media advocates, I don’t see a lot of benefits to discussing how to talk to your readers or consumers at an event. There’s no right way to do social media. If you’re having conversations with your consumers, you’re doing it right. The way Freeskier magazine talks to their fans is entirely different from how Skiing magazine and certainly how we at Powder are going to share information with our readers. If we’re all doing the same thing, it’d get boring. That being said, I’m certain Aspen’s social media guru Dave Amirault is going to tweet about this answer.
JILLIAN: What is the everyday scene like in your office?
MIKE: After we’re done surfing with supermodels at Trestles, we strut into our office, sit on gold-plated office chairs, watch ski videos everyday, eat gourmet food, and discuss important topics on the state of skiing like, Should I grow a mustache? (the answer is always yes) or How many guys from TGR actually like skiing in the park? (all of them). Haha. Obviously, I’m kidding about only 10% of that stuff. I’m an awful surfer.
JILLIAN: Are you all overloaded in swag? Do you have the most state of the art gear?
MIKE: It’s hard to get overloaded with gear but if you ask my roommates, they’ll say, Yes, absolutely. I try to be conservative and only ask for gear I know I’m going to use. I notice that companies are getting smarter and smarter about where their gear is being allocated. I tend to identify with some of the smaller companies in the industry and the last thing I would want is to request a pair of skis that are going to sit in my garage as opposed to going to one of their athletes.
JILLIAN: Where did your passion for writing begin?
MIKE: I wish there was a great story about a magical day when all I heard was The Beatles, the clouds opened, and the ghost of Jack Kerouac looked down upon me and said, Write and live your life, fast, fast, fast, my son. but there isn’t.
My passion for writing was something that took a lot of development. I put a lot of work into becoming a better writer. To answer your question, it probably started when I wrote a journal entry in 2nd grade about my dog eating my friends socks.
JILLIAN: Touch upon the difference in cultures from East Coast to West.
MIKE: It’s hard for me to compare the coasts because I’ve only lived in one place on the West Coast. I miss the community aspect of Burlington, Vermont. Their music scene is the best in the country, they have excellent microbrews, and the girls are more comfortable with themselves because they can look good in negative degree weather during a snowstorm. The Beach Boys had it wrong. I wish they all could be East Coast girls.
JILLIAN: Can you talk about the magazine. When it began, who started it, where is it going?
MIKE: Powder was started in 1971 by the Moe brothers in Sun Valley, Idaho. 2011 is our 40th anniversary and to be a small part of the legacy here means a great deal to me.
There’s so many great writers that have come through here like Les Anthony, Keith Carlson, Steve Casimiro, Warren Miller, and now, Derek Taylor. Where are we headed? Right back to where we started. The moon.
JILLIAN: Tell me more about “Bromance” and your 2011 resolutions.
MIKE: Bromance is a word I used recently in a story on powder.com. It’s a little cliche-like using the words, best friends. It always kills me when people say, I love traveling with my best friends. Sure, the people I get to travel with are great friends but if everyone is your best friend, then you’re kind of missing the definition of best. As for my 2011 resolutions, I want to read and write, explore the snow-covered world, and relocate my black lab to Southern California. Shout out to Shea-Shea![/su_box]