Published on April 14th, 2016 | by Brittain Thompson0
The Local Voice Celebrates Ten years of Crunching Deadlines and Spreading Ink
The Local Voice was born on April 18, 2006. For the past decade, Publisher Newt Rayburn and his staff has put a new issue on the racks every two weeks (give or take).
When a fatal car accident occurred during his commute to work at the New Albany Gazette in October of 2005, Rayburn decided to re-evaluate his career path. He had been working in the publishing industry since 1988, including stints as Art Director for Living Blues and The Oxford American magazines. He won a National Magazine Award for his “Southern Music Issue” of The Oxford American in 1999, which has since become an annual feature of that publication.
“It was a life altering event. As the weeks and months went on, I knew I was not where I wanted to be in life and I needed a change. I had $300 in my bank account and used it to start The Local Voice. I thought it might last one, maybe two issues,” said Rayburn.
But the little paper gained momentum and the support of local businesses that were happy to have a fresh perspective. Newt’s years working in restaurants and his experience as a musician gave him insight into promoting entertainment, and a deep understanding of his advertising clients’ needs.
Working with local writers and artists, the paper grew and extended its reach. Nature Humphries joined the team in 2007 as a proofreader, and has since become Editor-in-Chief, taking on the responsibilities of daily operations of the newspaper.
“Oh man, it was such a fluke,” said Humphries. “I was in grad school and he was basically doing the paper by himself. There would an entire week where I wouldn’t see or hear from him.”
As a fan of both The Local Voice and of seeing her boyfriend on a semi-regular basis, Humphries began helping out. As her work with the paper continued, she began reevaluating her own life plan.
“I was going to grad school for Teaching English as a Second Language. My plan was to go teach in a French-speaking country,” said Humphries. “Then I got more and more involved with the paper and Newt and I got more involved with each other. I realized the program I was in wasn’t right for me, so I dropped out and haven’t been back since.”
Although having a dedicated editor helped smooth out the process, the early days were still not without their bumps. One mistake they can both now laugh at is the “notorious America-with-a-K story.”
“I had a friend who had served over in Iraq several times,” said Humphries. “We decided to do a human interest story. His name is Erik Puder, with a ‘k’.”
After finishing the story, she realized her mistake and set about fixing it.
“I didn’t know his name was spelled a ‘K’ when I was writing it,” said Humphries. “At one point I said to Newt, ‘I’m going to have to go back and change every one of these.’ And he told me about this great feature called Find and Replace.”
So, Rayburn found all instances of “E-R-I-C” and replaced them with “E-R-I-K.”
“With it being about a dude in the army, the word ‘America’ shows up several times in there,” said Humphries. “We had changed every instance of ‘America’ to ‘Amerika.’ It was so embarrassing. We were getting calls asking if we were commies.”
“It was a really good interview that was nearly ruined by a mistake that should have been caught,” added Rayburn.
Throughout the years, The Local Voice has given many local folks a venue for their creative work. Writers like Sarah Reddick, Tom Speed, Jimmy Pitts, Louis Bourgeois, and Charles Hale, to name just a few, contributed essays, music reviews, poetry, and short stories. Cartoonist Michael Ikeda-Chandler’s editorial cartoons gave the paper fresh humor for years. Countless other artists, photographers, musicians, and townies have seen their work reach an ever-growing readership.
The Local Voice would like to thank the people of Oxford, and especially those businesses who believed in Rayburn’s vision and have supported the paper over the years. The publisher recognizes that the paper would be nothing without the local businesses who advertise, and especially Star Package, The Library, Ajax, Proud Larrys’, Angel Taxi, Volta, Express Computer Services, and Local Color, who have been supporting The Local Voice since 2006.
This Saturday, The Local Voice will commemorate this milestone with an event at Proud Larrys’, which will be free and open to the general public. Starting at 8:30 pm, friends and fans of The Local Voice will gather to enjoy pizza and cupcakes. Following a set by DJ ded_lyne, The Local Voice will debut a video project that has been in the works for the past month. The party will conclude with live music by Oxford’s Favorite Band in 2015, The Whiskey Barrels.