Burch Recalls GON’s First Advertiser

Daryl Kirby | December 25, 2022

Time to put a period on 2022 and turn the page on what we pray is a better New Year—that’s always that hope and promise this time of the year.

Long-time readers have a treat this month, an excerpt written by GON founder Steve Burch, whose monthly musings in this space are certainly missed now that he’s mostly retired from the magazine business. Before we get to Steve’s story, some background on how it came about…

I joked in an editorial about a year ago that GON was the last magazine standing. It’s becoming less and less of a joke. The latest casualty is Mississippi Sportsman, which published its last print edition in November with an edition that was only 36 pages.

The size of a magazine is not based on how many interesting articles and photos are received that month. If that were the case, this issue of GON would be a thousand pages. The number of pages is based on advertisements. Fewer ads, fewer pages. It all starts with subscribers, of course, but the ultimate survival of a magazine depends on businesses that value a monthly investment that in turn brings the GON community to their business or service.

So a few weeks ago I mentioned to Steve that I wanted to use this space to thank our advertisers and remind our readers how important it is to support the folks who support us. Steve started to tell a story about the origins of GON. I asked him to write it down, and here is what Steve wrote:

“It was after 8 p.m. that cold January evening in 1987 when I entered the cramped offices of Clarence Franklin in Athens. GON was halfway through its gestation period, having been formed in October of 1986 and hoping to produce our first edition in late February of 1987—just six weeks away.

Many things had been accomplished, but much remained to be done if GON were to actually launch. And the next necessary step depended in large part on this meeting. Clarence Franklin invited me into his office with his legendary, ‘Hello my friend.’

My challenge was simple, but daunting. Franklin’s was a bell cow among all the independent sporting-goods stores around the state. If I could get Franklin’s, others would be inclined to participate. If I could not get Franklin’s, the road would be much more difficult. I had to sell Clarence Franklin advertising space in a magazine that did not exist. And I had never sold an ad before in my life. My knuckles were white.

Well… the rest, they say, is history. Clarence bought a full-page ad and paid extra to secure page three. That night cemented a friendship that lasted until his untimely passing. But the relationship between GON and Franklin’s, and between so many other advertisers and friends of GON, has been continuous, and those relationships are the lifeblood of this magazine. It is also the lifeblood of the values and traditions of sportsmanship that we all value and protect. Together we—all of us—have created a great fabric of a community that has done great things for each or us, and for all of us. It is important to recognize this local community and to keep it vibrant and thriving.”

Almost 36 years later, Franklin’s still has a full-page ad on page three. I love Steve’s stories, love the history of the outdoors in this state and the history behind this GON community.

Now about our future—it involves a move. Our headquarters for the past 20  years has been an old school house in Morgan County. Most of our employees can now work from home, and that building is way too big. So we’re moving our office to the booming metropolis of downtown Madison. I’m kidding. Not about the move, but about Madison being a metropolis. Madison is wonderful, small-town Georgia wrapped up in a bow.

This move makes it easier for GON to be the last magazine standing.

Thank you to everyone who reads GON, but we also have a request. After you’ve read your favorite articles, please go through and make note of the businesses that prop up this special GON community by advertising in the magazine.

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