25-Year Anniversary for Hawgs Illustrated

Today is the start of the 26th year of Hawgs Illustrated. The magazine was founded on Friday, April 13, 1992. There is going to be a small lunch to sort of celebrate today. Mainly, I’ll thank our staff and key people I work with. The first magazine was not until the June issue about six weeks later. It seems like we got it printed on Memorial Day weekend. At any rate, our June issue will be our Silver Anniversary edition. Of course the website didn’t come into being for another 3-4 years. We went bigger into the message board business around 1998.

I look back and think about some of the things that have happened through the years and smile. Mostly, it’s been all good.

I told someone the other day who asked about my career and I told them I’d had a bad job for 25 years. No one else wanted it and no one else has ever tried to hire me to do something else. That’s true. Not one time has someone called me and said come work for me. So it’s been on me to just keep my head down and keep plodding.

There are a lot of people who have helped, but mostly I say thank you to subscribers. Many have been here since the start.

Congratulations Clay on a job well done! That is quite an achievement! I know I value tremendously the time I spend here. I live out of state (many years) and not physically able to travel much any more (games/events) and this board and magazine are my primary connection to Razorback information.

WOW this is neat…

Clay, how did it all come about? Did you just have an idea? I have always wondered what started it.

Hope we all are together for another 25 years!

I am happy to be a part of your vision.

May you have continuing success.

Your contribution is a tip of the hat to
your famous and endeared father.

I got married in 1992. So far HI has outlasted my marriage by 4 years. Congrats! And to think that you started on Friday the 13th.

Congratulations, Clay! Was there from the start and now wish I had been smart enough to keep those roiginal mimeographed editions.

My family started getting HI about 1994-95 and I’ve been reading since. The march recruiting issue and football preview issue that comes out in summer have always been my favorites. So glad you started it 25 years ago!

Some have inquired about the start of Hawgs Illustrated. I will write something for our Silver Anniversary issue, the June magazine. What I will say is that I had a tough decision to make at the time. I had been at the Tulsa World for 14 years. Sports editor Bill Connors was nearing retirement. It was not spoken, but everyone knew it. I was the assistant sports editor.

When I told him what I was thinking about doing (the start of Hawgs Illustrated), he asked me to lunch. He took me to the nicest place in town. I was blown away. He did not try to talk me out of the move at all. He said it was a great opportunity and that he knew I’d be successful. Then, as we were about done, he handed me a sealed envelope. He said to take it home and share it with Jean Ann because he knew it would be better to have something in writing then just me relaying words.

I got in the car and opened it. It said, “I will retire in six months. It’s already decided. I have asked and it’s been agreed upon that you will be the next sports editor. Here is your salary.” And, it was basically double what I was making.

I gave it to Jean Ann and we both cried. That was a dream job and it was at a great place and we loved our church and our schools. We loved our home, just a few blocks behind Edison High School in a great part of Tulsa.

But, as my friend Ed Beshara told me the next day, I would never own the Tulsa World. We all knew that the people I was going to work for who would fund the start-up of Hawgs Illustrated would likely build it, then quickly sell it. I knew there was a real possibility I could own it. And, that happened in less than three years.

Did I do the right thing? Of course, I did. I really had no doubts that I was making the right choice, but it was not easy.

One of the things that worried me about the Tulsa World job was that I would suddenly be asked to manage my peers, people who had been at the paper 30 years, along with others who had been there at least as long as I had and were all very good. Could I lead a staff of 15? Sports at the Tulsa World in the early 90s was a massive operation.

I thought that I would have a much easier time managing a very small staff at Hawgs Illustrated. I have never been comfortable in a leadership role. What I like to do is hire good people and let them manage themselves. I never really wanted to manage. Really for about the first 6-8 years, it was just me and contract labor. You don’t get involved with decisions that alter someone’s family with contract labor. It’s just one job at a time, or short term decisions. Much easier.

I guess I’ve always been a reluctant leader. I’ve laughed about my role as the leader of our household. I’ve often said that Jean Ann and I began our relationship by agreeing that I’d make all of the major decisions, letting her handle a lot of the mundane stuff. After 39 years, we’ve discovered that we’ve never gotten to the major decisions because all of them have fallen into the category as mundane (and hers). Is that true? No, what has happened is that I’ve let her do what she’s wanted in almost all regards. She’s done it so well, that it’s worked perfectly. She will tell you differently, but I think that’s close to the truth.

Clay, hearty congratulations to you and the rest of the Hawgs Illustrated gang, and thanks to Jean Ann and all the other supportive spouses.

Thank you, and keep it up!

MMG

Congratulations, Clay. I’m one of those who has been with you since the first issue. Obviously, I’m a satisfied customer! HI has been a life saver for those of us who live out of state. I remember paying my young nephew, who lived in Arkansas, to clip and mail me Hog articles from the Gazette. We’ve come a long way, baby! But, truly, I am extremely grateful to you and your staff for all the outstanding and timely Razorback news and commentary.

thank you…i grew up as a razorback fan from my father who read your father’s stories in the old gazette every sunday after the previous day’s game.there are some things that should never change and that includes a henry writing about the razorbacks…so from a second generation reader…thank you and here’s to both of us being here for another 25 years reading and writing about those hogs.

Congratulations!! Pretty sure I have had a membership the entire time. Don’t know what I would do without the Hog
update. WPS!!

Aloha Clay,

If I remember one of your earlier comments correctly, your father once stated during your first year of HI business that your initial success was directly related to the Hog’s basketball team…because Nolan’s great teams at that time generated a ton of excitement and interest. Could you reflect on that and shed some more light on that conversation and others you had with your dad about starting HI? He must have been exceptionally proud of you.

GHG!

It was actually in year three that my dad said that the national championship would be of great help. In 92, Nolan was doing well, but it was 94-95 that things got better. Football started to improve in 94 and 95, too. So it all worked together. There is little doubt that football carried the magazine at the start-up and he knew that, too. The jump in focus on basketball in 94 and 95 was important, too, but not as much at the startup.

It’s really simple for me Clay Henry has a gift. NOT everyone can be a writer.

He tells a story that makes it come to life. Today is Easter and Clay will not just go through the motions.

He will Walk the walk and not just Talk the talk with that gift that has been given to a very good man.

MT

Congratulations, Clay! We too have been with you from the start. Being stationed all around the US, ‘Hawgs Illustrated’ kept us up to date with U of A athletics. After retiring in the OKC area, getting to know you, Jean Ann, and your two wonderful daughters has been a delight.
Starting a periodical about the Razorbacks must have been very intimidating, since several that started before had gone under. I think you putting out a slick covered magazine vs a newspaper-type periodical (plus your writing) made the difference. Keep it up - we all enjoy it!!

Congratulations! You are doing a great job for the Razorback fans.

You are running a business and you have to strike a balance between managing the P&L of the business and doing what the customers want you to do. Over the years, I think you have done that mostly right.

I know the merger was not an easy decision for you, but I think it has turned out very well. I don’t know how many subscribers you lost and how many you gained. Hope the net is a gain. I am happy as a customer with the merger. My main worry prior to the merger was that Dudley did not have any backup for basketball. During Dudley’s absence, football coverage seemed to go uninterrupted, but basketball took a hit. The merger took care of that.

Again congratulations and look forward to the next 25. The first 25 started off with a national championship in basketball after few years in operation. Let’s hope this next 25 starts off with national championships in both football and basketball in the next five years. With the expanded coverage we have now with DD, RD, MJ, JC and of course yourself, it will be so exciting to live through that. Go Hogs!

Having been a Hog fan since I was a kid in the early 60’s I’ve always had a Henry leading out in reporting about the Razorbacks. You are a “chip off the old block” when it comes to writing. Orville made the pages come alive with his descriptions of the games/practices. His best work IMO was covering the Masters. I was able to be a patron at Augusta National on a Friday about 10 years ago. Every time I see those hallowed ground I think of the story you told me about Orville and Augusta. And I smile. No writer has the knowledge and personal relationships that you have with coaches, former coaches, players, former players and others that have impacted the Razorbacks. And you have a great gift of being able to put into words how those folks impacted our state and the Hogs. Since moving here (Chattanooga) in '98 I’ve relied on HI to keep me informed about the Hogs. Ya’ll have never let me down.

I’m retiring at the end of June and planning a trip home to see the first two games. Hopefullly I can buy you lunch again when we’re in Fayettville. And I’m sure I can round up some Oatmeal Creme Pies.

I typically hire about 35 new sales folks a year from all over the country. My advice to every one of them is to find something you love to do and do it with passion. There is no doubt that you’ve done that with HI the last 25 years. The passion you have for your work shows in the product you produce. Thanks Clay. You are appreciated.