Beginning with fundamentalist and evangelical radio stations in the 1920s, conservative Christians have created their own media to deliver virtuous content to believers. These parallel media serve as an alternative to the “fallen” mainstream media, as well as a means of attracting potential converts and communicating messages about social issues to a wider audience.
The universe of parallel media extends to magazines for teenage girls, with the recent relaunch of Brio by Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian organization known for its vocal opposition to gay marriage and abortion, among other social issues.
Focus on the Family began publishing Brio in 1990 but shut it down in 2009 during the economic downturn. It now appears to be resurrected with considerable success.
According to the publisher, Brio has already attracted almost 60,000 subscribers from Focus on the Family’s mailing list. When it shut down in 2009 the magazine had 260,000 subs.
In keeping with the organization’s mission, Brio takes a biblical view of the world and encourages its readers to do the same, emphasizing the importance of religion, family and abstinence. It addresses social issues affecting teens, like bullying and peer pressure, but wisely caters to an array of endemic reader interests, including fashion, beauty, and lifestyle content – all from a chaste perspective.
The importance of abstaining from premarital sex is a central message of the magazine, which illustrates much of its advice with Bible verses. The cover of the first magazine features Sadie Robertson, star of “Duck Dynasty,” who happens to have a line of virtuous prom dresses for sale.
Can Brio rebuild its previous subscription base, which would make it a mid-sized competitor among Christian magazines in the country?
Guideposts, the iconic title launched by Norman Vincent Peale in 1945, currently has a circulation of around 1.5 million— down from its peak of 5 million in the 1990s. Simple Grace, a newsstand-focused title launched by Bauer Publishing in 2015, has a print circulation of 200,000.