If you haven’t ever picked up a Reno Tahoe Tonight, you need to get out more. Every month for the last six years Oliver X and company have covered so many different people, places and things in the Reno/Tahoe cultural landscape it’s almost amazing there is still things fill the vibrant zine. That is the beauty of this area though, so much change and growth happening in Reno/Tahoe that the content spring will never run dry. We’ve seen RTT start from their first episode and blossom into the impressive spread it is today. One of the things that we love about RTT is it features art as well as covers it. From the covers to the spreads in the pages, it’s always on point. This is just one reason they’ve had the continued success and lasted all these years. On February 6th they are celebrating their sixth anniversary in the Terrace Lounge at the Peppermill and we thought, “there are probably a lot of people who don’t the man behind RTT or know it’s history, let’s reach out to Oliver and interview HIM for a change.”
FB: We met originally when you worked for Reno Passport, what you could almost call the predecessor to RTT. Was their a reason you decided to branch off to do RTT?
OX: I remember meeting you at Se7en Teahouse on Arlington one early evening when I was just starting with Reno Passport. Steve White introduced us. Loved your energy and wit.
My experiences with Reno Passport were awesome in so many ways. I truly appreciate Reno Passport Editor-Publisher Steve White, who quite literally took me into his condo and into his life, while offering me a place in his publication as a feature writer. His generosity was unmatched, and through that publication, I got a look at Reno’s counter culture close up.
From Steve’s condo, all the social media, sales, content development and day-to-day workings of the publication happened. It was an electric and very creative time in my life. The energy being created by that original collaborative team was something I will always remember. I am extremely grateful to both Baldo Bobadilla and Steve White for recognizing that I had a “writerly” voice that could contribute to the success of their business.
I started working with them in March of ’08, but by November of that year, the zine’s culture had changed. I had conflict with one of their key employees and things went downhill from there. I tried to move up from being a content producer, to Art Director, Copy Editor or even Associate Editor, but there was no room to accommodate those ambitions and I was rebuffed.
The death bell for my involvement in Reno Passport finally sounded when this employee kicked me off the Reno Passport Report (a weekly Wednesday program on KRZQ that focused on local entertainment) which I helped pitch and co-produce. I made the difficult decision to move out of the “HQ” as we called it, and gave my letter of resignation in early December of that year. Steve and Baldo had been great people up to that point, and it was an unfortunate situation for all involved.
Since I had no non-compete agreement or radius clause in place with Reno Passport, I decided to pursue my own publication. 60 days after leaving, I launched Reno Tahoe Tonight as a 16-page, free independent monthly publication. We will soon celebrate our 6th year anniversary on February 6th at The Peppermill, and we couldn’t be happier with the way this community has embraced us.
FB: Besides your appearance on Reno Public Access’s top viewed show, Hotshot After Dusk, what would you say is the top achievement in your life?
OX: Being my parent’s son. Being loved and raised so completely by two of the finest people this earth has ever seen. Nothing compares to the memories I have with them and I miss them both terribly. I live each day as a reminder of their teaching, parenting, love and standards of excellence. Any fortune, or success I have in this life, is a direct result of my parents.
FB: Your background is covered in Hotshot’s in-depth interview, so I won’t cover that again, but is there something in your background that truly inspired you to start your own monthly arts magazine? Or did this become an idea due to a series of events?
OX: I was working on the structural remediation and upgrade of a large project with Schwager Davis Engineering here in Reno in 2006-7. I took an opportunity they offered me to work on a project they had on the Big Island of Hawai’i. While I was there, I reflected on the fact that Reno had very little journalistic coverage of the arts and entertainment sectors. I started ideating on a monthly publication that could encompass the richness that I saw emerging here–well before the recession hit.
When I returned from Hawai’i, I started writing movie reviews for Flixster for $25 an hour, which was a cushy gig and sharpened my snarky chops. Then I met Steve White at a tiny coffee house on Fourth Street that was near the row house I rented on Fifth and Nevada Street. Steve White often showed up there to work on Reno Passport and, long story short, all of those parties coalesced to drive me to start and grow RTT as a monthly publication.
FB: What have you seen as the greatest challenge in RTT?
OX: The recession was the chief hurdle. That gutted this economy quite thoroughly. The next challenge is simply being relevant. I saw several pretty good publications go down during the recession. They all had intelligent editors and content managers, yet they did not survive. The print industry is a tough game and it takes an immersion commitment to succeed.
FB: Any particular features you’ve been most proud of?
OX: We are so proud of our creative team and photographic contributors. RTT looks and feels like no other print publication. We take risks each and every issue. That has earned us a very loyal, cult-like following.
FB: How do you deal with deadlines? Are you losing your mind every month or have you gotten it down pretty well at this point?
OX: Good question. We have a target date we shoot for final upload to our printer that is pretty consistent. But before we can make that final deadline, all the file and ad deadlines have to be met. Getting those elements in on time makes everything else happen.
After now doing so many issues, we do have it down. Every month is different. We launch our new health and wellness zine in March (called Elated People). We’re gearing up for that deadline now.
FB: Obviously your work consumes you, what are your hobbies?
OX: I never have enough time to read, but that is a consuming passion of mine. I like short fiction, biographies, poetry and good investigative non-fiction. I enjoy reading print publications like Purple Magazine, VICE, Juxtapoz and Hi Fructose. I have been a music industry label consultant, promoter and band manager. I have a weekly television segment on Mornings on Fox 11 and produce a weekly talk radio show on 107.3FM KNEWS in Reno.
I have never been much of a hobbyist. I suppose cooking might be the closest thing I have to a hobby.
FB: Any recommendations or advice for people who want to start their own business?
OX: Make what you are passionate about your living.
FB: Is there anything you’d like to see happen with RTT that just isn’t possible, or something that you thought was an amazing idea that just didn’t work? Why do you think so?
OX: I would like our reach to be commensurate with our influence. Wider distribution is key. It takes about a decade to become an essential regional player in print. Even more time if you have national aspirations. For now, I simply want to get better at sales and promotion of the brand. “Impossible” has already been overcome by our very existence. Nobody stays in business thinking about what didn’t work. That refection happens after failure, and that is not an option for us.
FB: What’s your ideal vacation?
OX: Being on the Big Island in Kona and sleeping in for a week!
FB: Where would you like to see the RTT brand in the next few years?
OX: I see us really becoming a top-of-mind first option for information, art and ideas in northern Nevada and northern California. So many people are just now discovering us. There’s a rich pool or readers out there waiting to be won. And we will do that in the coming years, using a variety of media tools and outlets.
EVENT: RENO TAHOE TONIGHT 6th ANNIVERSARY PARTY
LOCATION: TERRACE LOUNGE AT THE PEPPERMILL RESORT AND CASINO
TIME: 7:00pm – 11:00pm
COST: NO COVER
AGES RESTRICTIONS: 21+ only
LIVE MUSIC BY SOUL SCRATCH FROM LOS ANGELES