Article

A NEW ERA: Joel Patterson Takes The Helm At SURFER Magazine

| posted on July 22, 2010

Change is good. It allows you to reflect on the past, reassess the present, and plan for a brighter future. Sometimes it’s just what you need to live a more fulfilling existence.

While SURFER Magazine has been steering a prosperous course under the direction of Editor, Chris Mauro, for the better part of a decade, Mauro’s decision to make a change in his life has afforded the same opportunity to SURFER. And we’ll all be darned if it didn’t walk through the door at about 6′ 2″ with shaggy hair and a smile in the form of Joel Patterson.

With his new office all set up as of yesterday morning, Patterson represents the fresh face that will guide the magazine into its 50th anniversary year. He will be the one directing the stories, deciding what’s important, and delivering the feeling of surfing into your homes each month.

It’s only fitting we get to know him a little better. I mean, who is Joel Patterson, really? We conducted an interview to get you better acquainted. We think you’ll approve; we’re all pretty psyched.

Here’s to a long and fruitful relationship.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up?

I grew up surfing and skateboarding in Newport Beach, California down the street from Quiksilver, Billabong, and the rest of the surf industry. I got a bachelor’s in history from Chapman University. Worked as an Editor at TransWorld Skateboarding magazine from 1994 to 2000 then switched seats and was the Editor in Chief of TransWorld Surf magazine from 2000 to 2006. From the summer of 2007 to just a couple months ago, I was the Editor in Chief of Surfline’s Water magazine, but when I heard the editor’s job at Surfer was being vacated by Chris Mauro, I knew it was my one opportunity to run the bible of our sport.

Tell us about any moments in your career that may have led you towards working at SURFER Magazine?

At TransWorld we used to sit around discussing story ideas for upcoming issues, and every time I’d suggest something I was passionate about someone would scowl, “This isn’t SURFER Magazine, Joel.”

What direction can we expect SURFER Magazine to go under your guidance?

I’m interested in telling the complete story of surfing. Not just which young kids rip, and also not just how many points Kelly needs to clinch his next world title. I want to give surfers the tools to truly maximize their surfing experience; I want to help them travel better; I want to make sure their next board is a magic one; I want to clue them in to people who are doing cutting edge stuff; I want to assist them in picking a Fantasy SURFER team that blows away all their friends’; I want to tell them the wild stories of the surfers who came before them, and I want them to land an air. It’s a big task, but then, this isn’t a nine-to-five job.

What is your first order of business as Editor?

Planning. Serious planning.

Name one feature that has yet to be written, that MUST be written as soon as possible.

Yeah, right. I’m not giving Evan Slater any head starts.

In your opinion, what is the most exciting thing happening in surfing today?

See above. But generally speaking, I love surfers who expand their consciousness. I’m most drawn to the surfers who take the roads less traveled.

How do you think the Internet has changed the way surfers digest media, and how is SURFER going to evolve to accommodate those changes?

The internet has had a similar effect on surfers that it’s had on mainstream society, and the media companies that will thrive in the modern environment will understand that different stories will work better in different formats. That’s Media 101 stuff. We need to do a better job covering the newsy stories (swells, the WCT, the “save Trestles” movement), and we also need to use the Web to tell more complete stories.

Your favorite personal moment in surfing:

Every time I roll up to a right point on a head-high swell.

Top 5 favorite bands:

It changes a lot, but lately I’ve been loving TV On The Radio, old Beach Boys, Radiohead, Ratatat, MGMT.

Favorite Quote:

I love this quote from the 5th Century philosopher named Boethius: “It’s my belief that history is a wheel. ‘Inconsistency is my very essence,’ says the wheel. ‘Rise up on my spokes if you like, but don’t complain when you are cast back down into the depths.’ Good times pass away, but then so do the bad. Mutability is our tragedy, but it is also our hope. The worst of times, like the best, are always passing away.”

Anything else you’d like to say in your official introduction to the SurferMag.com Online Community?

If you’re a surfer, this magazine belongs to you. I consider myself a custodian of a pretty awe-inspiring tradition, and I’m going to work very hard to include our readers’ voices in the stories we tell, the surfers we profile, and the topics we address. But that concept only works if you participate.