Behind the Scene
by Randy Limbird
Editor & Publisher, El Paso Scene
A young couple at church came up to me the other day and asked me if I was the editor of El Paso Scene — apparently they had seen this column with my picture. After owning up to that fact, I asked one of them how old he was. He was 25. Looking at that tall young man gave me a concrete image of what 25 years really means. He was born the year I started this publication, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this issue.
That same weekend, my niece related a conversation she had seen on social media. One friend complained about there being nothing to do in El Paso. Another told that person she should pick up a copy of El Paso Scene.
That’s why I started El Paso Scene in 1993. After years of working for the local newspaper, I had heard similar complaints. As an editor, I realized that there were far more events going on than anybody realized. But what was needed was a publication that could put them all in one place. A monthly newspaper would give people enough time to plan ahead and pick the things they wanted to do.
The first edition of El Paso Scene was the September 1993 issue. I was proud that I had gathered over 100 events for that inaugural 16-page Scene; but not so encouraged that I had only found seven paying customers for advertising. A quarter-century later, this issue has over 700 listings and a total of 56 pages, with about 90 advertisers.
One reason this issue is that size is that since 2001 we’ve published a Performing Arts Guide each September, so we have not only September’s events inside, but also all the season schedules of most area performing arts organizations.
El Paso Scene has not been immune to the nationwide decline in the newspaper industry. We’ve had more pages per issue in past years. But what’s interesting to me is that the demand for our publication is as great as ever. Our first edition in 1993 was only 11,000 copies. Last month we printed 41,000 copies and still ran out at practically every location in town.
Meanwhile the local newspaper is only printing about one-third as many copies as it did 25 years ago, and its page count has dropped far more dramatically. Younger people just don’t subscribe to the daily paper any more. Who can blame them — the Times keeps shrinking but still raises its subscription prices each year. El Paso Scene is still free.
It’s encouraging to hear comments from young people like the couple I met and my niece’s friend who recommended the Scene. We manage to keep a strong readership across the generations.
If someone had told me in 1993 that I would be writing this column in 2018, I’m not sure I would have believed it. I doubt I will be writing a similar column for its 50th anniversary since I’ll be 90 by then, if I live that long. In fact, I sometimes cringe when a subscriber sends in a 5-year renewal. It feels like such a commitment when I cash their check!
People often ask if I have an “exit plan” for turning the Scene over to someone else. I don’t really have anything else better to do with my time, so I have no plans of selling or quitting. In fact, I’m hopeful that I can still keep growing El Paso Scene, but that growth will likely come on the Internet more than print.
But people still like having something in their hands to look through as they try to figure out how to spend their time. That’s why the Scene started 25 years ago and that’s still what we’re about today. Thank you for your support, and I hope you’ll find plenty of great things to do and places to go in these pages!
Here's the Ticket
Southwest Art Scene
At the Museum
Keep on Bookin'
Copyright 2018 by Cristo Rey Communications.