Alex Balk

Oct 27

Didn’t he ramble.

Got an hour? Good, couple things: We didn’t have a chance to do a formal goodbye, and, frankly, I’ve got eight million e-mails that I need to answer (if you sent one, rest assured that I will eventually respond but know for now how deeply appreciative I am for your thoughts and kind words) so I’m not in a place where I can get all grandiose and reflective. Which is probably a good thing. So here we are.

The week before last marked my one-year anniversary at Radar. When they called me up here for an interview last summer I insisted on them showing me the books so that I’d be sure they had at least a year in them; turns out they did! Anyway, what with it being an anniversary and all, I naturally gave pause to reflect on my tenure here. Surprisingly, I was pretty pleased! I mean, there were tons of things that could have been better. All of those were no doubt a reflection on my shortcomings as a manager. But it’s silly to look back at that now; I’d just as soon focus on what went well.

A lot of things did! I am intensely proud of a lot of the material we brought to the site. It was an incredible honor to get to give chances to new writers, all of whom carried off vague assignments with tight deadlines as if they were seasoned pros. I’m not going to name names, because I’d for sure leave people out, so I’ll just say that every single one of you is special, and it was a real honor to have some part in helping you establish your career. Also, when you’re suddenly the EIC of whichever of the three magazines that survive, I’ll be happy to write listings coverage. Or whatever you have, really.

As for my co-workers, I’m sure you’ve seen enough about everyone on the magazine side, so I’ll just say this: Because getting the website to a place where it was a necessary daily read took up so much of my time, I was unable to interact with them as much as I would have liked to, but it was absolutely clear how dedicated and passionate they were about their work. From the greenest copyeditor all the way up to Maer himself, I have never seen a group of people more committed to creating a product they believed in.

So, finally, to the team at You should know that if you’ve enjoyed the site at all during my tenure, it was because of their efforts and the quick way in which they figured out how to manage around me. I was brought in to help make the site more popular and relevant, and, wow, did that ever happen. And it happened because of the incredible team that I was given. If you’re still reading at this point, I’ll warn you that you’re about to see a bunch of names. Please pay attention: some of them might be a good fit in your organization.

Tyler Gray, who left for Blender this summer, was the heart and soul of Fresh Intelligence before I came over, and I couldn’t have managed the early months without his help. He also proved just how sensitive Conor Oberst fans can be when you say something less than reverent about their idol.

Sarah Horne, who was moved full-time to the magazine a few months after I started, was always willing to pitch in, and never once complained. She also almost managed to make fashion and style nearly interesting to me, which is a work order of Sisyphean magnitude.

Hailey Eber, who started as an intern and then freelanced for us before moving over to the magazine, proved herself to be an amazingly quick study. I’m sure her biggest regret about this whole thing is that she’ll no longer have to monitor the Fame-O-Meter.

Nick Rhodes and Lisa Fitzgerald gave me the greatest gift you can ever give a creative person thrust into a managerial role: They kept me from ever having to worry about art or production. Iris Sutcliffe, our features copyeditor, not only did astounding work on short notice, but her e-mails informing us that a feature was live were so consistently funny that they became a high point of the day.

Paige Ferrari edited features.

Neel Shah is exactly what you’d expect. I probably got more e-mails complimenting me on stuff he did than on any other writer, and it’s an assessment I fully agree with. The kid’s a star, and we’re going to be seeing his name in a lot of other places. Only a few of those places will be police blotters.

Choire Sicha is a whiny little bitch and untrustworthy paparazzo. He is also one of the finest human beings I have ever had the pleasure to work with, and it was one of the great joys of this job that I got to opportunity to team up with him again.

Adam K. Raymond, a.k.a. K-Ray, is a genius. There is no one who can be funnier and more concise on short notice. My “laugh out loud” moments pretty much all came from stuff he wrote for us, and I barely ever even laugh on the inside.

David Cho is everything you’d want from a director of business development, or whatever the hell we wound up calling him: ambitious, smart, quick to suggest a fresh new angle, and genuinely interested in making sure things are successful. Plus, he has great taste in luggage.

Chris Cechin held this entire thing together. I’ve probably already used the words dedicated, tireless, and professional, which is fine, because even if I used them again for him they would not convey the full import of what he’s done for this site every day since I’ve been here. I could also add conscientious, compassionate, and patient to the list of his virtues, but his most important value to me was his constant willingness to run down and smoke with me each time I’d kick the wall and yell “For fuck’s sake,” which happened about a hundred times a day. He is a good person in every sense of the word, which makes him a rarity in this or any other industry.

So, yeah, I’m kind of unemployed right now? If you’ve got some work going spare that you’d like to hand off, let me ask you a major favor: try and hire one of these people before you think about doing anything for me. (I’m going to be fine—my current plan involves buying up 401ks which have lost so much of their value over the last few weeks, bundling them with the few 401ks that were risk-averse and have maintained a decent return, securitizing them and selling them back to asset managers to help bolster sagging 401ks; it can’t fail.) Don’t worry about Neel—I’m pretty sure he’s going to land on his feet—but for sure get in touch with K-Ray and Paige (who, despite what I said above, is more than just a features editor: she’s wickedly funny, a great synthesizer, and someone with a terrific voice who would be a natural at any website or magazine with a pop-culture bent). If you are lucky enough to have space for Cechin, I insist you give him a job. He will make you and everyone around you look 100 times better, and you’ll never hear a word of complaint from him because he internalizes all that shit and saves it for his ulcer.

Don’t hire Choire. Picture-taking DICK.

Alright, blah blah blah, this is like a fucking novel. Thanks to all of you who read Radar during my time there and helped make the website so successful that they decided to sell off the brand and put those of us who built it up out of work. (I am honestly not at all bitter. These things happen. I just hope everyone I worked with—people, who against all odds, I now consider friends—lands on their feet.) Okay, I’ve got some e-mails to answer. Keep in touch.