A couple of questions on the recent management/ownership changes

  1. Is the name Hawgs Illustrated going to disappear? If yes, when?

  2. Is Stephens Media still involved with Hawgs Illustrated or did that stop in 2016 when Whole Hog Sports/AR Democrat and Hawgs Illustrated merged?

  3. If we transferred our Hawgs Illustrated membership to the Whole Hog Sports/HI merger, and got the discounted annual price, will that continue? Or will we have to buy a “new” membership to the AR Democrat/Whole Hog Sports website?

Question for Clay:

I believe you continued ownership of the Hawgs Illustrated magazine through both the 2009 Stephens Media transaction and the Arkansas Democrat Whole Hog Sports merger. If that’s correct, do you still have the magazine or did you let that go (or sell it) with this recent transaction. Will the magazine be discontinued now? If not, will it continue to be paid for under our current annual (or monthly) subscription?

I do not anticipate anything changing in terms of how we have operated since 2016. The magazine will continue to be called Hawgs Illustrated.

I sold the magazine to Stephens in 2003. I have not had any ownership. I have been left as publisher to make all decisions since 2003. I have not had any issues with management at all. The only problem I’ve ever had was when I told my direct report over four weeks ago that I had burnout and was stepping down. It was exactly as I wrote.

It was me that went to management to merge the two sites. There were many meetings before it was agreed that it could be done. It was MY idea, not their idea. It was my idea to put Matt Jones in charge of the combined website. Everyone agreed.

I have picked the writers for every story for 30 years in the magazine. No one but me has ever picked the cover. No one but me has ever approved pages to go to press. No one but me has ever decided how big to make the magazine and how to display the ads. I have done that for 600 issues (guess). I will do that one more time.

It’s incredibly difficult for one man to do all the things I do. I can’t do it anymore. I’ve been supported and offered help every step of the way. Sometimes I would have been better off letting someone do some of my jobs.

I am about to write a manual/instruction book on how to do my job. There is no one (except maybe Matt) who has any clue what I do. I will serve as a paid advisor for a few weeks (hopefully one) to help the magazine proceed exactly how it’s been done.

I hope my exit (and a huge salary now open) enables them to hire two people to replace me, a publisher and an editor. No one should ever do both these jobs again. It will be too much and lead to burnout or failure.

The problem is that I supplied much of the editorial content. I also did the work of editor and publisher. I wrote a lot of commentary. I depended on Matt to edit my copy. I edited his. I also edited everyone else’s copy that went in the magazine. That’s one job in itself, or maybe two since I was also writing.

There were no days off much of the year. None. I didn’t mind. It’s what the job required.

I helped with advertising sales. I sold advertising for special projects that were not related to the magazine, like the high school book Matt edited. I sold advertising for a special project on the Trout Unlimited Convention in Fayetteville when we produced a special section that I wrote.

These are things that made money for the company and I’d do them again. I produced the content for the Hawgs Illustrated Game Day Extra that was added to the paper five years ago. It made a lot of money for the newspaper (not HI), but I did it because it was important to my boss.

But these things wore me down and took time away from the magazine. It needed to be done, but some of these things contributed to my burn out.

My wife is retired. She became a volunteer for several entities (one is church) when we moved to Norfork four years ago. She has made subtle hints for the last three years that she enjoyed her volunteer stuff a lot more than I was enjoying work. She saw me grinding at age 67. It wasn’t fun anymore and she kept saying, “We could do this if you would take one day off. You can play in a four-day golf tournament with your brother if you would take time off. You can help mentor young kids at church if you can come to church on Sunday.” I could not. I don’t have time to mentor youth at church who don’t have a father? That one got me. It made an impression. That was the first thing that got me to thinking what am I missing by continuing to grind.

I wrote that I would have time to hunt and fish. I hunt and fish now, although not as much as I could. But I’m going to do some things with my personal ministry that will be life changing (for me as much as the kids). I’ve done a little of that before, mentoring 30 year old men, when I lived in Fayetteville.

PS: Since writing that column yesterday, I’ve been invited to five duck camps, two elk camps (one of them in Wyoming where I’m almost a lock to kill a big bull) and also to go on a pheasant hunt in South Dakota. I’ve also been offered two tickets in five different suites so I can walk in the stadium holding Jean Ann’s hand.

I did the right thing. I’m sorry some view what I did as a hardship for them. This magazine will flourish. It will be different without me. But it will likely get better because of better resources. The team is winning. Subscriptions are way up. There are funds to employee several new people and they will be top content producers. Imagine more like Matt Jones, Scottie Bordelon (and recent writer Jimmy Carter). The talent is out there. This is a project that many are jealous of and would like to join.

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Thank you for your detailed response to my question about the magazine and the ownership of the magazine. I’m very happy the plan is to continue the magazine.

Some of your response seemed to indicate to me that you thought I took a shot at you for retiring. Nothing could be further from the truth. I hope you didn’t think any of my questions indicated that I thought you shouldn’t retire or, god forbid, didn’t have the right to retire. I completely understand you wanting to retire. After all, I’ve been retired, or at least semi-retired for 8 years.

My questions were intended to try to understand how and how much this site and the magazine was going to change (or disappear) following your retirement. What I was trying to get a feel for, is what these great products you’ve built are going to look like after your retirement.

Obviously, the immediacy of Dudley’s firing following your retirement announcement creates some trepidation in my, and many other members minds, of what the future may hold for Hawgs Illustrated, the magazine, the website, and the message boards. Will the same level of the quality of the information and writing continue?

To reiterate, I’m happy for you, that you are able to retire from a very successful career that was your creation. You have certainly earned the right to relax and enjoy your family and all the relief from the stress of that monumental endeavor.

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I assume you hired Dudley and that you are not the one deciding he needs to go too. If you had stayed on for another year, would Dudley have as well?

That is an interesting question. I don’t mind you asking, but I don’t answer personnel questions. That question may be asked until the end of time and I will not answer. I look forward to a dinner with Dudley when I am not his boss and he is just my best friend again. Our wives will enjoy that, too.

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Understood. No problem. You are an upright guy and I wish you the best in your retirement.

And to think I got mad at my magazine for being a day or 2 late…

I get mad when that happens, too. USPS is a nightmare now. And, sometimes the printer doesn’t have enough workers for a full shift. Covid shutdowns were real in any printing plant or USPS building.

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Frank Robins would be proud of you, as also your Dad. Retirement is a wonderful thing. What I love about it-life without a schedule. Go for it.

Oh gosh. Frank Robins was great to me. He was going to pay me a lot to stay in Conway. And said he could pay way more than what the Tulsa World was going to pay. But he said, “Get your butt to Tulsa and go show them how good you are.” No one said anything better or nicer to me.

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Thank you sir……you are truly one of the best ever to this 54 year old Hog Fan!!!

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As usual Clay you explained in perfect detail just as you did/do about anything, sports and otherwise. Personally I dont know how the heck you do all that you do, did all that you did!!!
Obviously you’re wired for the task(s). We now know all is order & left in good hands.
Appreciate the tidbit about Dudley, small as it was it was enough. Make those dinner reservations.
Thank you for all the above.

Lets do this Matt, Scottie, Richard, etc.

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Stunned and beyond sad to see you retire, because you are the living embodiment of what we are as Razorback fans. You are a great reminder of the depth and love for our Razorbacks your father represented to our Hog family for me for nearly sixty years. I don’t think you can fully grasp the love and esteem we Hog fans have for you, because you have been our Razorback Ambassador to the world at large.

Clay, I am thrilled you are ready for retirement and know that you will embrace it with vigor, excitement and gratitude. Enjoy your lovely family and the wild outdoor and fishing and hunting and writing. Know we will miss you, but we are also filled with joy because you will experience the warmth of friendship and love of your close friends and family. God bless and keep you well.
(adgebg) Alton Dewayne Gibson

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This sums it up better than I can. I woke up early and trying to sort through HI.

The bad thing is very few even read my posts. So I keep saying Mike why even post.

My tremors are so bad it took me 5 minutes to copy and paste Mt. Gibson’s post. Right hand will NOT work. So I use my left that hits to mouse to many times leaving me without any copy and paste…

Today it’s not as bad as when my younger brother died from Covid. But a touch of depression.

And to think I have had Clay’s phone # for years and didn’t call or text due to thinking I don’t want to bother Clay. If I had it over I would have stayed in closer contact!!

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I always read your posts. Sad to hear about your battles, life is way too short, probably what adds to its sweetness. Prayers for you, razorback339.

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I know you do. God Bless you sir!!

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