A few months ago, Pool & Spa News’ managing editor, Dan Schechner, informed me that he had been offered the top editorial position with another magazine. The publication was in Laguna Beach and serves the performance racing industry. It was a no-brainer.
OK, I thought. This isn’t ideal, but we can find someone
else, and at least the rest of the staff is stable.
But then Ben Thomas, senior editor/ technical, left as well to
pursue his dream of becoming — believe it or not — a
That’s when I went into a low-grade panic.
The departure of nearly one-third of your staff is crippling under
any circumstances, but to lose two such accomplished people was
We all logged in many extra hours getting the magazine out while I
scoured résumés looking for the right replacements. It
seemed impossible. The managing editor is responsible for keeping
the whole ship on course, and the position calls for someone who is
extremely organized, fast, creative, decisive and can see and
respond to tiny nuances and large issues simultaneously. In
addition, the person needs enough leadership ability to enforce
policy and stay on top of everyone’s deadlines, but they
can’t be too “alpha” or we’ll just end up
arguing all the time.
After an exhaustive search, I found someone who is a perfect fit.
Joanne McClain comes
from the luxury travel industry, where she wrote newsletters read
by travel agents and consumers. She also handled itineraries for
the most difficult clients, and as a result can get along with
literally anyone on the planet. Joanne’s intelligence, work
ethic and attention to detail round out her suitability for the
Next, I tackled the even more formidable task of finding a
technical editor. In case you’re wondering, there
aren’t very many people out there who have the kind of brain
that can understand the Langelier Saturation Index and then write
about it in a zippy way. Indeed, the position requires hard-core
journalistic chops combined with strong technical ability, a
mixture rarely seen in one person.
Rarely, but not never. Steve Straehley (pronounced
Straylee) comes to us after a whopping 21 years with the Los
Angeles Times. He spent a decade as a sports news editor
before becoming a technical specialist, and while it’s sad
that the newspaper’s downsizing is what put him on the
market, the result was a great addition to our staff. In fact,
after his first day on the job, Steve was already reaching out to
the industry and pitching story ideas to me.
Please feel free to contact these wonderful new staff members with
any suggestions or questions you might have.