Angela Wampler Leaving A! Magazine
May 30, 2012How do you say good-bye to a colleague and friend who is retiring? It's always hard, especially to someone who has been absolutely essential to an organization.
Twenty years ago Art Powers, the publisher of the Bristol Herald Courier at that time, and Wallace Coffey, the newspaper's outreach coordinator, had the idea to bring together a team of arts advocates from the area to advise the newspaper on developing a monthly arts supplement.
That initial committee of A! Magazine for the Arts was made up of people appointed by the major arts organizations in Bristol and Abingdon as well as representatives from the colleges in the area. The team was to make suggestions for story ideas that would reflect the diversity of the artists and arts organizations in our region.
The person chosen to write the stories — and later as art director — was an experienced writer who had honed her skills as a young journalist working as a feature writer at the Bristol Herald Courier and then as a free-lancer.
Angela Wampler has been the voice, the name and the face of this publication for almost 20 years — and this is her last issue.
As many of you know, Angela loves the arts, all of the arts. You can sense that passion in every story she has written for A! Magazine. She knows the questions to ask to get incisive responses, but most especially Angela has an excellent writing style. Her writing is accessible to general readers, informative and accurate, fluid, and always able to capture the personality of the person she is interviewing, whether it's Marcel Marceau by telephone from his chateau in France or a seven-year-old bluegrass prodigy.
The mission statement of Arts Alliance Mountain Empire, the parent organization of A! Magazine these days, is to "nurture, advocate and celebrate" the arts in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Angela's stories have certainly met all three of those purposes. Her articles have covered all of the major arts organizations in the region, and she has interviewed most of the major arts leaders and significant individual artists. Countless times, featured artists, arts leaders and other readers have written to the magazine to thank Angela for an excellent story. Many have said that a particular arts event would not have been as successful if she had not done such an exceptional job in promoting it in an in-depth background story.
Angela has helped steer the magazine's growth from a 16-page to a 24-page monthly publication, with websites and a weekly email digest. Along the way, A! Magazine and AAME have received recognition, including the 2003 Tennessee Governor's Award for Arts Leadership, an award for Arts Leadership in 2006 from the Arts Council of Greater Kingsport, a 2007 Pinnacle Award, and three awards in 2009 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Tri-Cities Regional Chapter, plus a 2008 Tribute to Women award for Angela herself.
A! Magazine will continue, but as with many retirements, Angela will never be truly replaced. A new feature writer will take the magazine in new directions, with new interests and new skills.
Please join us in thanking Angela for giving so much of her time, energy, and passion to the arts and artists of our region. We all hope she has a long and happy retirement. She will be greatly missed.
- Ann Holler, Ben Jennings, and the members of the A! Magazine Committee