Getting Ghetto in the Gem City

Getting Ghetto in the Gem City

Ghettoblaster Magazine Provides Unique Perspective on Modern Music

By Kyle Melton

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Editor Dave Obenour and his wife, Designer Tracy Obenour create Ghettoblaster [above

Over the past few years, the monolithic music magazine Rolling Stone experienced significant dwindling of their pages as the indie favorite Paste eliminated its print edition altogether. Largely due to the rise of MP3 music blogs, which used their ability to provide true up-to-the-minute coverage to a sizable advantage, many music magazines vacated bookshelves across the country. In the case of the Dayton-based Ghettoblaster, however, their pages are expanding, frequency of issues is increasing, and their readership is growing. Under the editorial guidance of Dave Obenour and the design prowess of his wife, Tracy Obenour, Ghettoblaster Magazine offers a unique Midwestern perspective on an ever-trendy music culture.

So, here we are in Dayton and you are producing a national-scope music magazine. What led you to believe this was a good idea?
Well, I was freelancing for Ghettoblaster when I was in New York City. [Dave Obenour]

So you didn’t found Ghettoblaster?
Ghettoblaster’s been around for about 15 years. I’ve only been at the helm of it for the last four or five years. I started freelancing for them and then the publisher reached out and was like, “Hey, we’re looking for a new editor.” At the time I was working music publicity but I was a little more interested in the music writing aspect. So, Tracy helped me make a mock issue of Ghettoblaster and it was my résumé and did it up really nice … [DO]

When you took over as editor, what made you decide, ‘This is the kind of magazine where I’m going to take an editorial position.’?
One of the things that I really loved about Ghettoblaster was how eclectic the artists they covered back then were. They would cover everything from dance to hip-hop to indie, and they didn’t get pigeonholed. That’s what initially attracted it to me. [DO]

Do you think that your Midwestern perspective colors your coverage of the national scene in a way that’s different from other magazines?
You’re a pioneer of the Midwest. It’s hard to separate him from that. [Tracy Obenour]
To me, there’s less bullshit involved. Less glitz and glam. It sounds awful and very pretentious, but if I had to find a recurring undercurrent to the artists that Ghettoblaster features, there’s a certain level of authenticity. No bullshit attached. [DO]

You mentioned that one of the key things that’s helped Ghettoblaster is the design. That’s where you come in, right Tracy?
Yes. [TO]

With the design element, what are you going for or what do you feel defines the magazine visually that attracts people to buy it?
Well, this is all very new to both of us. I’ve never designed a magazine before, so it was kinda fun just jumping in and learning little bits here and there. I think in general, we’re just trying to keep it really clean and modern, just trying to keep some consistent fonts and consistent designs throughout so that it’s not scattered and messy. [TO]

I know you mentioned a while back that you guys were now being carried in Borders. Is that still true? Where else are you distributed?
Yep, Borders and Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million and Books & Co. As of the last issue, our distributor took the magazine to a Euro expo, so now we’ve got an extra 20 issues in Sweden. So that’s pretty cool. [DO]

What would you say is the overall defining philosophy of Ghettoblaster as opposed to any of the other publications on the bookshelf that people could buy?
We have been broadening our scopes a little bit and doing video games and stuff like that, but it’s still up to 28 artists featured in each issue. Sure, we’re multi-faceted people and we appreciate other things, but this is a music magazine. I think a lot of times people lose that. I feel that there’s still such a strong role for printed media. It’s something that Tracy lovingly designs with master craftsmanship so that people hopefully want to put it in their bookcase. [DO]

So what else do you want people to know about Ghettoblaster?
One thing that I like about Ghettoblaster is that it’s an eclectic mix of music. Even if it’s been a long time since you’ve been in music, for each issue we’ve got an online mixtape that offers up free songs from each of the artists that we’ve featured with an interview, so it’s a good chance to educate yourself. It’s the liberal arts college of music magazines. [DO]
That’s a good defining statement. [TO]

Ghettoblaster Magazine is offering its latest spring issue locally at Omega Records and Toxic Beauty Records, as well as the aforementioned national bookstore chains. For more information, visit their website at www.ghettoblastermagazine.com.

Reach DCP Music Editor Kyle Melton at MusicEditor@daytoncitypaper.com and visit his blog at www.thebuddhaden.net.

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