Twenty Years to Life at Rhode Island Monthly

RIM publisher John Palumbo discusses his tenure at the magazine in April's Publisher's Note.
John Palumbo

“It is better to be silent and be thought of as a fool than open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
–Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain

Twenty years ago, this was my mantra.  Oh sure, former coworkers, friends and frenemies will all jump in with contrary opinions, but when it comes to being passionate about work, I am far from a shrinking violet.

Twenty years ago I was scared. I had to write my first publisher’s note — me, my opinion — in print. I had resigned from a good, comfortable position of confidence at the then-privately held Providence Journal Company to return to CVS Pharmacy where I had worked almost a decade before. CVS’s growth was on steroids (no pun intended) and the path to become the nationally renowned retailer had begun.

But the siren’s song of publishing coincided with the Journal’s purchase of select assets from Anchor Communications, the company that started this magazine in 1988. Within a year, I was back. I made the nerve-wracking decision to return to run this small, eighteen-person operation that could set time by the lunch menu at the Atomic Grill one floor below. It was working without a net, scary and depressing at times due to lack of resources and constant confusion over what the heck I was doing (a regional magazine is not, thankfully, a newspaper).

Fast forward to this month. Twenty years have passed, with our thirtieth year of the magazine dawning in May of next year. I have gone from employee to owner, from having a corporate safety net to being out on a financial tightrope daily.

Sweating the small stuff is a fact of life and in addition to reviewing a spreadsheet, I have become really good at vacuuming, dusting and unloading magazines from our printer as the situation warrants.

Over those twenty years, I have seen some rising stars come and go, and others grow into the DNA of Rhode Island Monthly. I have made more mistakes that I could possibly list in this space and endured as many daunting times as I have reaped the modest awards of running a small business in Rhode Island. I have let my passion for this business sometimes lead me to irrational behavior and, as a result, made personal sacrifices and experienced losses.

Recently, we polled our subscribers and got an amazing response: 84 percent say we accurately portray life in Rhode Island. I’ll take that vote of confidence and, as I look forward to what’s next, am forever grateful for your support.

Enjoy the Rhode. –J.J.P.

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