IN LATE 2019, I sent Indiana University Southeast head men’s basketball coach Wiley Brown a text: “How tall are you?”
“6-feet-7 now,” he replied with a laughing emoji. “I was 6-feet-8 in my younger days.”
A few weeks later, the legendary baller climbed the narrow stairs to our second-story office, ducked his head to step inside, and seemed to fill the room as he posed for pictures against a backdrop stretched as tall as it could go, easily palming a basketball, ever-affable as we adjusted the lights to capture his towering physique clad in a sharp suit.
Wiley appeared on the cover of our February-March 2020 issue, our fifth anniversary edition — and the final issue of Extol. Until now. Like you, we had no idea what lay ahead personally, professionally, locally, globally. We still don’t. But, we knew we had to make decisions and quickly.
First, we ceased the print publication of Extol. It was necessary to cut costs, but we also didn’t feel it was right to ask the hundreds of small businesses that carry our magazine to contend with our distribution while working so hard to stay afloat themselves. We also, and most importantly, wanted to minimize risk to anyone by avoiding direct contact.
Instead, we published smaller digital issues and content and turned our focus to assisting clients with social media management, website design, marketing, video production, and live-streaming online events.
As the weeks turned to months and finally more than a year from the date the world had seemed to both shutdown and erupt at the same time and life irrevocably changed for us all, we pivoted — and hard.
People had lost loved ones to COVID while others were — are — dealing with the long haul effects of the virus. Lives also were shattered by illness and death from other causes, too. Some shuttered businesses they’d spent years building. Others were cut from jobs that no longer existed. And stories of increased substance and alcohol use and abuse, depression, domestic violence, and despair filled the headlines of news outlets across the country along with near-hourly reports of civil unrest, political divisiveness, and crime. Hopelessness hung in the air, blanketing even the most mundane and ordinary aspects of life. It still does.
But there were a lot of blessings, too. There still are.
Healthcare heroes, first responders, and essential workers stepped up in myriad ways and have never stopped. People pooled resources to help others in need. Schools and daycare centers worked to provide safety and structure to our youngest residents. Businesses reinvented the ways in which they operate. Neighbors sought to spread joy within their own communities. Individuals quietly aided others without fanfare. Some of us even found this most challenging time as an opportunity to reevaluate what it means to exist and how we want to live.
The struggles are far from over, and some losses will never be regained. But despite what still often feels like an overwhelming pervasiveness of obstacles to overcome and waiting for the next hardship, there is much hope and many people responding to the call to reach beyond themselves. That hope and the people, businesses and organizations who provide it to others will continue to be highlighted in this magazine as we’ve done since day one. We’ll also remain a publication committed to offering a bit of levity, Southern Indiana love, local tidbits, and features that make you think, smile, and — if even for a moment — take a respite and just enjoy.
In addition to publishing Extol Magazine every other month once again, we invite you to join us at 11 a.m. Fridays for Extol Live, a live-streaming show on our Facebook page and YouTube channel. There, you’ll also find Extol Everyday, a new daily video or photo feature spotlighting all things Southern Indiana. Twice a month, at 9 a.m. Tuesdays, we invite a local business to share what they offer on Treat Yourself Tuesday, another livestreaming show. And, beginning Oct. 2 when we venture into television, you can watch This is SoIN, an Extol Media production, at 7:30 a.m. Saturdays on WBKI The CW, WDRB’s sister station.
In June, we relocated our office to uptown New Albany on the corner of Market and Vincennes in a beautiful space, some of which we’re using to showcase the work of local artists and a giant kitchen that has already allowed us to spotlight a handful of SoIN chefs. We will use new location to host community and private events, nonprofit
drives for items that will help those in need, and workshops covering a myriad of topics as soon as it’s safe to do so, too.
While Extol Magazine may have gone on hiatus, the Extol team has been here all along. But now, we’re back in new ways with new faces and features and familiar ones, too. We couldn’t be happier – or more hopeful.
Publisher, President & CEO
Extol Magazine & Media