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PLSN at 20: All the Editors’ Notes

Nook Schoenfeld • April 2020Editor's Note • April 8, 2020

Nook Schoenfeld

With our 20th Anniversary at hand, I decided it would be nice to get some words from our publisher and the first three editors to chime in on their time at the helm.
Nook Schoenfeld

‡‡         PLSN Publisher Terry Lowe:
“An associate of mine at the time called me up and said, ‘The landlord will be at the building to sign the lease. You need to be here at 4.’ It was truly D-Day. If PLSN was going to come to life, we needed an office, and this was as good as any. It was a nice class B building, parking structure, and daily maintenance. I had to decide there and then to write the check for the lease. Yes, my heart was in my throat. So, I made a big gulp, signed the document, and started to work on the first issue.

“Bruce Jordahl, who I had been talking about this project, was already lined up to be the editor. He had recently left High End Systems, where he was doing PR and marketing. We had talked about starting PLSN for months. He took a leap of faith, we set the outline for the first issue, and got started. Conveniently to augment our ever-growing database of subscribers, Bruce came with a 20,000-name database he found somewhere along the way… That’s how we got the first issue out to 20K and have never gotten any smaller in our circulation.”

‡‡         Bruce Jordahl, Editor from 2000-2002:
“At the turn of the century, I found myself needing to make a change after a solid decade doing marketing with High End Systems in the prosperous ‘90s. I honestly didn’t know what I might do, but in a moment of serendipity, Terry Lowe approached me with a bold idea, to start an industry magazine. At that time, there was only one entity that produced a magazine for lampies, and it was quite East Coast in culture and editorial focus. Looking back now, it was truly a ‘blue ocean’ idea that he had! In retrospect, I might have been somewhat qualified to edit this new magazine named PLSN, as I had edited an in-house HES publication named Show Technology. We worked liked dogs for the weeks leading up to the 2000 NAMM tradeshow, where we showed our samples to manufacturers in Anaheim. Those first years were so much work, but so much fun. It’s gratifying to see so many of the original advertisers still on board with PLSN, and obviously the lighting community has grown to love this magazine. I’m sure Terry would agree it was difficult to start a book from the ground up, even with his many connections and deep roots in the production industry. But we were fairly relentless in the pursuit of this passion, and enlisted a great staff including technical editor Richard Cadena and columnists Paul Dexter, Robert Mokry, Brad Schiller and Vickie Claiborne, just to name a few. As PLSN turns 20, I send my heartfelt congratulations to all at Timeless Publications on this milestone achievement. And me? Oh, I’m back at High End Systems — we’re putting the old band back together over here!

‡‡         Richard Cadena, Editor from 2003-2010: “One day, late in 1999 or early 2000, a former colleague, Bruce Jordahl, called me and asked to meet for lunch. As a resident of South Austin, I wasn’t thrilled about driving to North Austin, but I knew it would be worthwhile. He told me that he was going to be editing a new magazine that Terry Lowe was starting. I knew who Terry was because he used to work with Debi Moen, another former High End colleague, at Performance magazine. Bruce asked if I would contribute a column about lighting technology. That was right down my alley because I enjoyed writing, and I was just geeky enough for the job.

“I have a background in electrical engineering, and when I first started writing ‘Focus on Technology,’ I thought I had to impress the audience with my ‘extensive knowledge.’ So for the first 10 months or so, I made sure the columns had all the math to back up the theme of the articles. I was in my element. Later that year, when I went to LDI, there must have been a dozen or more people who told me that they saw my magazine articles. I asked each one if they read the articles, and virtually all of them said something like this: ‘Oh, no, it’s too far over my head,’ or ‘Well, I tried, but you lost me after the first paragraph.’ I knew I had to take another approach. From then, on, I almost totally abandoned the math and tried to write in a way that my mother could understand. My mother actually subscribed to the magazine, and one day, she told me that she actually read my articles. I quizzed her until I was satisfied that she actually did.

“Eventually, Bruce handed me the keys, and I became editor. I learned a lot by listening to my readers, not the least of which was that this new magazine, PLSN, was actually being widely distributed and read by people in the industry, people other than my mother. I knew it was a hit, and I had no doubt it would last. Congratulations on 20 years of articles with little or no math!”

‡‡         Justin Lang, Editor from 2011-2104:
“My time at PLSN was rewarding in that I was able to connect with a greater amount of the community that I love. It gave me an opportunity to share not only my own, but countless others views and ideas. On this very page, I was able to impart ideas and hopefully spark thoughts and different ways of thinking. As such, we are in the midst of unprecedented times. Not just the industry, but the world is at a crossroads. We are all affected in some way or shape, some more than others. It is in times like this that we have to remember what is important to us and to do what is necessary to keep some sense of normalcy. Please take care of yourselves and families first; the work will return. It may be trying times, but we, as a community, a nation, and world, will overcome the hardships that lay before us. I’ll see you back in the trenches, hopefully sooner than later.”

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