Q&A: Bill Gubbins

Bill Gubbins
Editor-in-Chief, Country Weekly

Bill Gubbins was hired as editor-in-chief of Country Weekly magazine last December. Gubbins, a
longtime presence as a freelance reporter on the country music scene, joins publisher Tori Hughes in
Nashville as the Us Weekly of Middle America begins a major investment in the magazine's quality,
sales reach, and coverage.  

Gubbins and Hughes both believe that country music, while long the dominant radio format in the
United States, is set to enjoy a period of heightened interest as several new promising artists emerge
on the scene. MEDIA's Michael Shields spoke recently with Hughes and Gubbins.

MEDIA: What makes the Country Weekly reader different than those of other entertainment titles?
HUGHES: [These readers] are not as much into Hollywood celebrities. The celebrities of country music
are the celebrities of Middle America. These people like reading everything they can about these
artists. We are like the Us Weekly of country. They don't want gossip so much, but they want to know
what kind of shampoo they use, what they read about. They don't want to know anything bad.

GUBBINS: It's primarily about the people, the human point of view.

MEDIA: What is interesting about covering country music right now?
HUGHES: The next year is going to be an awesome one to watch. The nurturing of several young
stars in the business has been so calculated.  Each one has a unique sound. Music Row [the
industry's center in Nashville] is going to be a pleasant place to be.

GUBBINS: The enormous success of Greta Wilson shows that for the next generation of stars,
authenticity is key.  

MEDIA: Do you think the recent presidential election, which exposed many in the media world to the
differences between “red states,” and “blue states,” is good for magazines like yours that reach
middle America?
HUGHES: We have always been in the red states. I think it would be an excellent thing for the book [if
marketers re-examined their thinking].

GUBBINS: These people are loyal to the core. They are very loyal to brands.

MEDIA: Bill, what are your plans as editor-in-chief?
GUBBINS: There are a lot of things [the readers] already love. Our task is to bring them more of them.
The reader wants to get as intimate and unique as possible.  We are really dialing that up.

HUGHES: You are seeing more women's magazines profiling country stars, like Redbook. We need to
promote our strength there.

GUBBINS: The key mission I have is to get more exclusives, more photographs. I wanted a publisher
with passion to bring readers as close as possible. [Readers want to know] how these people make
their music.

MEDIA: What are some of your plans business-wise for Country Weekly?
HUGHES: We are trying to get away from endemic advertising, really focusing on packaged goods. We
are even adding a sales rep in New York City for the first time.
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