Blake Dowling: The glossy allure of magazines — don’t count them out

stack of magazines
You never know what might pop up in these publications.

Did anyone who’s reading this go to middle school in the 80s?

This company would come to your school and give everyone a booklet to sell magazines through the school. The school got a cut and (if you sold X number of subscriptions) you got a cup and another amount a jacket, or a gift card to Red Lobster, etc.? Actually, gift cards were not a thing yet, but you follow me, right?

Feb. 2022 on the set of the Biz & Tech podcast

Talk about an ALL-IN activity — geeks, preps, jocks, goths, boys, girls, he/they/we/she/ya’ll (the Dothan pronoun) — everyone got fired up for that at Houston Academy back in those days.

My sincere thanks to everyone who bought my magazines; I wish I still had that oversized H.A. mug that I won, it was awesome.

Speaking of magazines, I recently spoke with the associate publisher of Rowland Publishing, McKenzie Burleigh, on our podcast.

Rowland produces titles that you know in Florida like “850 Business Magazine,” “TALLAHASSEE Magazine,” “Emerald Coast Magazine” and many more. One takeaway from the show was McKenzie’s career with Rowland.

She graduated from Florida State University 15 years ago and has been with the company ever since. That is beyond impressive and a kind of commitment you don’t see often in our what has become bizarre business culture. Quitting, job bouncing and changing careers seem to be the norm, which the pandemic put into hyperdrive.

But for Rowland, they have some longtime staffers that are very committed to their firm. The long-haulers are so impressive, we just celebrated a 10-year and a 15-year anniversary at our company, pretty awesome.

After hearing McKenzie discuss her passion for publishing, I started doing some looking around the Sunshine State in regard to magazines. Website Manta says there are 187 magazine publishers in our state. Wikipedia says there are only 103, including such titles as “Prison Legal News,” “Florida Russian Lifestyle Magazine,” the “Journal of Singing” and everyone’s fave, “Mud Magazine.”

Although it sounds like something about vehicles driving in the mud, Mud is actually a pop culture hub for Gen Z.

Many of you thought that with tech disruptions, magazines were on the way out, but they’re still here — and readership actually is up. The U.S. Magazine Industry reports in an annual study that the total number of magazine readers in the U.S. remained above 220 million every year between 2016 and 2020. Previously, that number hovered around 210 and 215 million.

That is fascinating but not surprising; personally, I still read several publications.

Each month, I roll through “Source” magazine from the Florida Society of Association Executives, INFLUENCE magazine (a rock-solid magazine that I have contributed to many times brought to you by the good people at Florida Politics), Florida Trend and the aforementioned TALLAHASSEE Magazine and 850 business magazine.

You never know what might pop up in these publications. For example, an article on juvenile solitary confinement was eye-opening.

Or an article about a disabled poet was intriguing.

Or a story about art on local buildings in Tallahassee?

Back to Rowland Publishing. They are not just in the magazine game, they helped me publish my book and were hands-on throughout the entire process.

I don’t know if I could have pulled it off without their assistance as the Amazon requirements are pretty stringent and I would have had a heck of a time editing the entire thing from start to finish without their expertise.

Just like earlier with Mud and Prison, there is a magazine for everyone in Florida. For car nuts out there, check out “Cavallino,” Florida’s fave Ferrari magazine. I mean as Ferris said, it is so choice, if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

I love the magazines mentioned above and I also love contributing to them; cheers to the next round of issues.

This quote sums it up: “Whereas people increasingly get their news from the internet, magazines have a different atmospheric to them. A magazine is something you sit down and relax with” — Andrew Neil/Scottish journalist.

Indeed, Mr. Neil … and that’s all she wrote. Enjoy your Saturday of magazine (and my column) reading.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies, the author of “Professionally Distanced,” host of the Biz & Tech podcast and contributes to several magazines. Blake can be reached at [email protected].

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at


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