Acadiana LifeStyle Celebrates 28 Years
● Published by Aimee Cormier
It’s an interesting anniversary for the publication. It’s the first anniversary where it won’t be under our ownership, but it’s still very much under our wing,” states Acadiana LifeStyle’s former publisher Art Suberbielle. In its 28 years, Acadiana LifeStyle has experienced many changes, but the commitment to providing the community with a publication that educates, informs, entertains and inspires has never waivered.
In 1987, Art and Connie Suberbielle owned and operated the New Iberia radio station, KANE. During the holiday season, the idea came about to create a Christmas Gift Guide that would tie into a radio station promotion. The intention was that it would be a one-time publication featuring advertising alongside of stories about the community, particularly the Annual Christmas Tour of Homes. Hoping to benefit from his wife’s fine arts background, Art persuaded Connie to help out with the one time project.
The Cover Story
“For the first issue, we needed a holiday picture for the front cover,” Art recalls. “We enlisted the services of John Daigre to be our photographer. We met with Ernest Nereaux the chairperson for the annual Christmas Tour. Nereaux lived in the beautiful circa 1893 Maison Marceline on Main Street. He heard our plans and volunteered to decorate his home as if it were the holidays. It was early October and the temperatures were in the high 80s.”
Daigre set up his camera across the street from the fully adorned home and waited for sunset so that the lighting would be perfect. At the time, digital reads weren’t even thought of. So, Art and Connie printed and sifted through countless pictures before finding the right one for the cover.
Connie’s New Job
Once the cover photo was selected, the next task at hand was learning how to put a magazine together. Art remembers Connie’s skillset proving to be “immeasurable” during this time.
“Art had befriended the staff at the Alexandria Town Talk and inquired if they would help us out by printing this one-time project,” Connie explains. “So, we went to Alexandria and they showed us what needed to happen in order for this to be accomplished. We had to send them parts and pieces. I would have to send all of the galleys (a form of proofs) in. I cut all the pieces and taped everything down. It was a very, very laborious job.”
Because there was no Internet in those days, everything was done in paper copies and sent back and forth via Greyhound bus. The couple laughingly recalls being “held hostage by the Greyhound bus schedule” and making mad dashes to the bus station to ensure everything was shipped and received on time.
“One day the people at the printer called and said they didn’t receive the package,” Connie recollects. “They went out and looked in front of the bus stop in Alexandria and the contents had fallen out of the luggage bin of the bus. It fell open and parts of the ad copy and edit galleys were scattered on the pavement. Needless to say, we learned the value of a box well closed and taped to hold the contents. There were some big learning curves, but that was good because it taught us a lot about what we had to do down the line. But, I didn’t know that line was going to keep going.”
There were 10,000 copies of the first issue printed and the printing company remarked that it was the largest first issue they had ever done. The issue arrived in New Iberia just in time for the press conference to announce the Christmas Tour of Homes. At the conference, the Suberbielles presented the publication to rave reviews and excitement from both the community and advertisers. It was this level of excitement that led Art to accidentally commit to the future of Acadiana LifeStyle.
“Mr. Nereaux was really enthralled with the way it turned out and he said, ‘How often are you going to do this?’ And spontaneously, without a second thought to the commitment, I said, “monthly,’” Art confesses. “Then I felt Connie’s elbow in my ribs. But, over a nice glass of wine, I was able to persuade her to continue her part time job with Acadiana LifeStyle.”
“And boy did that part time job grow,” Connie interjects.
Improving The Process
Desktop publishing was still in its infancy, so the first five issues were done as the first one was – tediously by hand. Soon, Acadiana LifeStyle purchased their first computer and two designers were hired. Art, always striving for the best quality, convinced the printer to print laser copies instead of linotype copy because he thought that it would be a better quality print job and that’s what he believed his readers and advertisers deserved..
Initially, the publication was distributed by direct mail, but distributing 10,000 issues proved to be an expensive undertaking. So, the switch was made to rack distribution, which is how it’s distributed today – as a free publication found in some of the most notable business in Acadiana. The magazine received a great deal of success within the advertising community. This support has been the fueling force behind the magazine’s free distribution.
“A short time after switching to rack distribution, we had to increase the circulation,” Art explains. “We increased it to 12,000 and then 15,000. Now, Acadiana LifeStyle reaches five parishes with 20,500 copies every month. It’s grown to the point where the readership eagerly awaits the next issue. In fact during months where there are five weeks people will call the office wondering where “LifeStyle” is. It’s very encouraging to have that kind of readership.
April 8, 2015
After nearly 28 years of developing and growing Acadiana LifeStyle into the publication that it is today, the Suberbielles decided it was time for them to start slowing down.
“We wanted to smell the roses and I had almost reached the mandatory retirement age of 90,” Art jokes. “We decided it was the right time. I mentioned it to a friend of mine and about three weeks later he called me back to tell me he was interested in buying the publication from us.”
On April 8, 2015 the couple transferred Acadiana LifeStyle into the hands of Odie Terry, Cherry Fisher May and Steve May. But the transfer wasn’t made until the Suberbielles were assured that the new owners would continue the stewardship that the publication was initiated with. While Art still enjoys being associated with the magazine through his column that appears in every issue, Connie’s transition wasn’t a seamless one.
“I missed that red pen!” she exclaims. “After 28 years of proofing each issue and reviewing every word that was printed, I had some withdrawals. But, I eagerly await each issue. I love to see it because I know the effort that’s gone into it. I’m so proud of it.”
When telling the story of Acadiana LifeStyle, the couple laughs at the learning curves they experienced in the early days. They still seem in awe when they talk about the printing and publishing industry. And they become very deliberate and thoughtful when they speak of their dedication to providing their community with a high quality magazine that empowers and celebrates Acadiana.
“It was gratifying to work with so many people and to tell their stories,” Art says earnestly. “When we started, some of the naysayers said that the magazine wouldn’t last long because there weren’t enough positive aspects in Acadiana to talk about. Interestingly enough, after 28 years, we feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface. There are so many wonderful stories to be told about the people and the passion within this community.”
The couple shares a glance before Connie closes, “It’s been a good ride.”