You have to give it to Maer Roshan: he was persistent. The man was determined to will Radar magazine into existence, and he did it. Three times. And now, for the third time, the magazine is folding—and taking a pretty great website with it. (When RadarOnline.com returns under AMI next year, it will be unrecognizable). The fact is that Radar, despite having an above-average amount of good content, was just a doomed idea from the start:
- It was too late to have a new tone: Radar's tone is wry, arch, post-modern, skeptical, and, you know "snarky" (*retch*). Had the magazine launched five or ten years before it did, it would have been a lone, intelligent voice amongst the wilderness of celebrity coverage. As it was, it was just one more magazine with the same tone that hundreds and hundreds of blogs had made into the default voice of the entire young American audience. Radar was never bad—it just wasn't fresh.
- It was too late to start a standalone magazine: There are plenty of people who dream of starting their own magazines. Few make it happen. Roshan did,somehow, but he missed the era when it would have been a viable enterprise. What was the last great standalone magazine to launch, and be successful? Wired, in 1993? And Wired is still around because it now has the money of Conde Nast to back it up. The day of launching new, large-scale, general-interest print magazines (rather than super-niche ones) that turn a profit are gone. Technology will determine the future of publishing, but that's not it.
- It was too late to own its category: Celebrity coverage with a twist. Smart celebrity coverage. For people who are actually intelligent, but have a pop culture habit. This is a niche with no space left in it. It is a niche that was filled before Radar got a chance to get to it. Radar didn't lack talent—it lacked a compelling reason to exist. That Maer Roshan got three cracks at it is a testament to his otherworldly skills as a salesman.
[Pic concocted by Steven Dressler]