OFF THE PAGE with Extol
A RECAP OF EACH ISSUE BY OUR EDITOR IN CHIEF ANGIE FENTON
Five years ago, Extol Magazine debuted as a fledgling publication with a small team that had one goal: to highlight Southern Indiana – and beyond. Half a decade later, we’re still here and have grown into a company that offers far more services than the bimonthly publication that launched us, but that remains our mainstay, our roots. So, we asked our Editor in Chief Angie Fenton to reflect back on each issue over the past five years and go off the page, as she calls it. Here are Angie’s recollections, insight and a bit of what once was insider information.
In mid-2014, my business partner and eventual husband, Jason Applegate, and I sketched out our dream of launching a publication celebrating Southern Indiana while at Tucker’s in New Albany. I wish I would have saved the napkins and notebook we first used to draw up our business plan. This was our first issue, and we knew we wanted to lead with a great story. WHAS11’s Chief Meteorologist Ben Pine had an amazing one. I wrote this feature and still love it not for my words but because of Ben, his family and their story. How lucky are we to have them still in our midst as SoIN residents.
I’ve known Tricia Barnstable Brown for years and love her heart. She and her sister, Priscilla “Cyb” Barnstable, have raised millions for diabetes research through their renowned Derby fete, the Barnstable Brown Gala. The fellas featured with her are Brent Rogers and Chris Hughes of Sounds Unlimited Productions, which is a Southern Indiana-based company known across the country and locally at home for producing parties with a purpose like no one else. They don’t just do Derby – they are Derby. And, wow, do they have some celeb-filled stories to tell.
When Fuzzy Zoeller agreed to allow us to feature him in Extol, we were thrilled. We also knew better than to show up without a plan. So, my team and I practiced how we would photograph him and what the lighting would look like ahead of time, and I had my questions ready to go. Photographer Tony Bennett shot the cover with our Creative Director Adam Kleinert overseeing the shoot either before or after I conducted the interview – I can’t recall. But, what I do remember is how funny and “colorful” Fuzzy was. We had wanted to respect his time, so we were extremely efficient and fast, so much so that when we were done Fuzzy said, “That’s it? You don’t need anything else?” I received a lot of positive feedback from folks after the issue was launched, but I still chuckle at the few negative comments. A handful of readers were appalled that I’d allowed a few swears to make their way into the article. While I thanked them for the feedback, I didn’t apologize. I mean, you don’t tone down Fuzzy Zoeller. You just don’t.
Writer Stacey Thomas penned the cover story for this issue, which was so heart-breaking and amazing, I wept while editing the article. I’m forever grateful to Jillian Becher and her family for sharing their hearts.
I loved this issue because it wound up being something completely different than what we thought it would be, which was tough for some of us staffers to stomach. But, that’s a good life lesson, too. We could have stayed stuck in the figurative mud, bummed that our plans completely fell to the wayside, but we didn’t. I mean, we had the next issue to get to.
December 2015/January 2016
Country crooners Dave & Whitney kept us in stitches for most of the shoot. The Southern Indiana natives were – are – so talented and funny. Really, really funny.
Photographer Antonio Pantoja made magic during the photo shoot with Terry Meiners at Le Moo in Louisville. The story was about an upcoming charity roast of the region’s most well-known radio deejay. I was one of the roasters and stressed so much about how to roast someone I consider a friend. There’s video of Terry’s roast out there someone. It was definitely an unforgettable night.
We shot the cover and other photos at Kopp’s Lakes in Clarksville, which my husband and I have frequented several times when we just want to fish but don’t have time to drive very far. If you’ve ever been, you’ll know why most people are surprised this issue was shot there. I mean, Kopp’s is great, but it isn’t exactly what you’d think of when going for glamour. Except, I was pretty sure the location would make a perfect backdrop in the hands of photog extraordinaire Antonio Pantoja and Extol Creative Director Adam Kleinert. Not all of my decisions are gold, but they ensured this one was. Renowned New Albany hat maker Rebecca Vance, who has since passed, made the fascinator specially for this dress. What a special lady she was.
We definitely had tons of fun on this shoot, which featured Creative Director Adam Kleinert’s son Brahm and an elephant from Wiltstem Wildlife Park in Paoli. Brahm is actually photoshopped into the photo, and, truth be told, while it was an exciting shoot, I had one eye on the exit the whole time. It was just such a BIG experience.
This issue spotlighting Todd Sharp flew off the shelves and also inspired the name of his former reality TV series, which featured the cover on the national show’s debut.
It was an honor to feature this veteran. I also love pointing out the shadow behind him. Not everyone notices it. Makes me put my right hand over my heart every time.
December 2016/January 2017
You have to read the story about John Bostock to know why he continues to be the face of hope. John and his wife Jessica provided, and still provide, so much inspiration to others. This remains one of my most cherished stories. Writer Steve Kaufman really captured John and Jessica’s journey.
On this cover, we included the text: “Eva Bass is going to help shape our world.” My team and I still believe that. #TeamEva
When I look at this cover, which is gorgeous, I think of everything that went wrong with this issue (minus the cover, which was shot by Danny Alexander after our original cover fell through and we were 36 hours from going to press). I’ll spare you the details, but this issue was a lesson in falling down and finding out just how strong you really are.
Who doesn’t love Dawne Gee? That’s what I think when I see this issue. And then I always smile.
The wedding dress on the cover of our inaugural wedding issue was created by Southern Indiana native Francis “Frankie” Lewis. She eventually made it onto Project Runway and is now living and thriving in California.
I’m a Michigan native who moved to Louisville in 2002. I moved to Indiana in late 2014 but didn’t fall in love with Harvest Homecoming until overseeing this issue. Now, it’s one of my most favorite times a year, which I think means I’m officially a Hoosier.
December 2017/January 2018
Todd Sharp is the only person we’ve featured twice as a cover story, and just like the first time, this issue went fast.
We gathered a few of our favorite chefs and hit home what many of us know: Southern Indiana is a hotbed of good eats.
Radio deejay Sarah Jordan rocked this shoot, and I absolutely adore her. This issue was also exciting because we jumped up in pages and were now being distributed by hundreds of locations in Southern Indiana and dozens in Louisville.
Shooting this entire issue was such a sweet collaboration with the entire Extol team. While I look at some issues and see the stories, many of them I look at and reflect on what occurred to get the publication to press.
Stylist Miranda McDonald knocked the photo shoot for our second annual wedding issue out of the park – and she did it in a park-like setting.
This issue was chock full of business people from around the region who shared valuable insight. I still go back and read the hard copy version.
December 2018/January 2019
Real estate guru bared his heart in this stunning cover story. He is proof of redemption and recovery. It is a must-read.
Shooting at Angels Envy just across the river was so much fun. And, while we were at it, an internationally known mega rock band walked by on a tour. I can’t spill the beans, but I will guarantee every person reading this would know who they are.
Looking at four years worth of covers all at once really was a moment for me. This has been a labor of love that included some really tough times, lots of highs and lows, and plenty of opportunity to throw in the towel. I am so glad we didn’t. We’re bigger, better and stronger than we ever could have imagined we’d be. The struggles have been worth it.
Juice Box Heroes lead singer Dan Farmer has such a great story, and he was hysterical to shot with. Plus, we really, really love his band.
In this, our third annual wedding issue, we feature an actual newlywed couple instead of models on the cover. Aaron and RuthAnn Burns we’re the sweetest and the reason why we are going to pick either a Southern Indiana bride, groom or couple on the 2020 edition.
New Washington State Bank CEO Jessica Carroll is a rockstar in her industry and one of the most impressive people i’ve ever met. As a Southern Indiana resident i am grateful to have her in our midst.
December 2019/January 2020
Lori Unruh was a fabulous cover gal. I also love her bracelets, her family, her story and her heart. This issue also sparked something in me: The desire to change our publication dates. Originally, we debuted so that our first bimonthly issue of every year would begin in February. But now that we have a solid five years under our belt, it’s time for a slight change. With a bit of math magic that means we won’t actually skip a single issue, we’ve opted to hop over February and coin this our March/April issue. That means the first issue of 2020 will be January/February. It probably means very little to anyone else except this type A++ editor.
You can find back issues and stories – as well as the most recent ones – by visiting extolmag.com. Follow @extolmagazine on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.