Inside 50 Years of Southern Living

In honor of our 50th anniversary, we're taking a moment to celebrate this incredible journey that started in February 1966 when The Progressive Farmer Company launched Southern Living, declaring it the "Magazine of the Modern South."


[MUSIC] Southern Living was one of the greatest success stories really in the history of magazines. Back in the early 60s, the Progressive Farmer company noticed that there was this seed change happening in the south. People began moving off the farms into towns and cities and the south began changing and the people thought that we needed a magazine that reached the city folks. Southern Living started as a section in Progressive Farmer. They tried an experiment. Let's see if we could do a section that is about a lifestyle. It's about food and it's about decorating and we'll put it into Progressive Farmer magazine and see if people like it. Well, it turns out they did. We became a very dominant player in lifestyle meeting We had circulation profitability. We had strong advertising. And we didn't do it deliberately, it was done because we were serving the readers. The readers and the people that are portrayed in the magazine are the same people, really. We tried to reflect their lifestyle. We did it because we love the south. There was a lot of bad news about the south. So to have a magazine that came out that was talking about the positive things, that was a very appealing concept. One of the things about the south is it's just a great place to live. Southerners like to share and food is the basics of that. So they shared their lifestyle as well as their recipes. We would get so many reader recipes we had developed test kitchens that would go in and test those recipes and get it just right. And then we published them and sent them back out into the world. With their name at the bottom of that recipe. They like seeing their name in a magazine, they were proud to have their name associated with a recipe. By the mid to late 70s, Southern Living was one of the if not the most profitable magazines in the country. [MUSIC] Time Inc. has always been interested in brands that are number one at whatever they do. They bought it because of the brand. There's no other question. They bought it because of Southern Living's brand. I think they got a deal. Because the brands have continued to grow and prosper. And we've been through some tough times like everybody has, particularly in the recession back in 2008, 2009. The nice thing about it though, circulation stayed strong. All through that period and I think that was really a tribute to the loyalty and the product. I think the best aspects of southern culture never change. The sense of community that people have down here, the sense of style that they have, the kind of food [MUSIC] That we love. Those things never really change. There's just some complication. We went through the Great Depression. We went through two World Wars and all the other social changes that have occurred. Think about it. 50 years of building the brain. And a magazine that's one of the most dynamic magazines in the lifestyle publication world today. I saw my 21st birthday with this company. We have shared so much and that bond that is there will all these people Is just amazing. [MUSIC] You don't think about how you're gonna be rolling 50 years from now. You think how you're gonna be rolling about three years from now, and five years. And you keep Pushing it forward a little bit at a time and then staying ahead of the curve. If you can do that, you can continue to be a force for a long time to come. Which I think Southern Living will be. [MUSIC] [BLANK_AUDIO]
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