RIP Paddler Magazine

-- Last Updated: Jan-12-15 12:08 AM EST --

Rapid Media has just acquired the subscription obligations of Paddler Magazine from the ACA. So ends the sad saga of print media in general and meaningful paddling content in particular.

CanoeSport Journal was started by Frank Hosford with Harry Roberts as editor in the mid 80's. Eventually Frank sold to Paddler for too little money and Harry edited that magazine until his untimely passing in 1992.

The American Canoe Association acquired Paddler for way too much money in the early 90's. When I was on the Board of Directors we tried to sell the rag but the deal fell through. Now it's just faded away like a pear left in the fridge for a half year.

Neither C&K nor Paddler have included significant content for years, but it's sad to contemplate that our community cannot support it's own vibrant press.

It was another of those "For one brief shining moment" situations.

I am guessing that
the USCA magazine will also go that way if the in fighting and squabbling keeps up.

jack L


– Last Updated: Dec-09-10 11:12 AM EST –

But Scott McCregor of Rapid Media has done an exceptional job of creating a new "model" in his marketing and has been proactive in various media forms, not only print media, but video and internet as well. His Palmer Fest series has reached a large audience and he has made an effort to be at virtually every paddling show.

Palmer Fest is dead.

Knew that…
here is Scott’s announcement…

After five amazing years, I regret to say that Rapid Media will no longer be producing Palmer Fest—or the National Sea Kayak Symposium and Canadian Canoe Symposium. It has not been an easy decision for me, Tanya and our Rapid team.

Palmer Fest is a big part of me and all of what we do here. It was like throwing a big wedding every spring—big white tent, dinner, music and hundreds of our paddling friends, and no mother-in-laws (at least not ours).

Five years ago we set out to create the very best paddling festival. The event had to be accessible, foster a sense of community and get new and enthusiast paddlers together on the water. Over the years we’ve gotten 1,952 people into boats and on the water—726 for the very first time in whitewater; 145 were kids. Mission accomplished. And this year with warm weather and no blackflies, it really couldn’t have been better. I’m very proud of what we’ve built.

So why this letter?

Palmer Fest has always been a three-month labour of love and not profitable for Rapid Media. In fact, over the last five years we’ve subsidized the event, and have been increasing rates a little every year in an attempt to make it a breakeven weekend.

This year with the new HST and other economic factors we were looking at another substantial increase of somewhere between $30 per participant just to break even. Yes, this may still be great value at $165 for the weekend, but I believe it is just too much. It compromises what we set out to do. I fear that a bad vibe out there about the increases in rates would kill any feelings of goodwill toward Palmer Fest and Rapid Media. Know what I mean?

We’ve had five great years with no injuries, no one getting hurt on the highway, and no real trouble at the bar. I feel like we’ve been very lucky. If I was a bar owner, paddling school, an event company, or a volunteer community group behind so many great festivals I may be more comfortable with these risks. Look at it this way: in one weekend we run more paddlers through an instructional program than many kayak schools do in a whole season. In all the fun it is to produce Palmer Fest there is incredible risk, risk that has become too great for me, my family, and for Rapid Media.

The good news is that that Paddler Co-op is working to continue the 10-year tradition of the May long weekend on the Madawaska in Palmer Rapids. They started Palmer Fest and are now working on “creating a new unique and accessible opportunity for paddlers – both new and experienced – to come together for high quality instruction, music, good food and atmosphere.” It seems to me it will be all things Palmer Fest, but on a smaller, more grassroots scale. They tell me online registration will open in the New Year. Contact Paddler Co-op at for more details.

This decision was not an easy one. I’m still not sure it was a good one. No one was as heavily invested and will miss Palmer Fest as much as me.


Scott MacGregor

Founder and Publisher

It’s a dead media format
The future is in electronic media, where much of it is done by small independent groups and individuals. Don’t complain start something of value using the technology that will be important 5 or 10 years from now.

I was on the ACA BoD
when we acquired “Paddler” mag. I was emeritus by the time Eugene Buchannan left as editor and always wondered about that. IMHO, the mag took a dive after he left. Maybe it was already going the way of many but I wonder.


Our local kayaking club spends over 1k per year on producing/mailing brochures and yearbooks. That is both money wasted and nature screwed twice - first the trees, then the garbage.

Scott and Rapid Media are
already doing that.

No one has an “obligation” to support a product or a cause. If it is worthwhile to enough people, then the product will flourish. If it isn’t…then it will fade away.

Doesn’t always make it right, but it certainly doesn’t make it wrong.

I know this is generalizing, but besides the obvious reason to move forward from print media is that it appeals more to youth.

Plug for the little guys

– Last Updated: Dec-09-10 2:24 PM EST –

Just a little plug for the little guys. There are 2 free paddling magazines out there trying to make it.

One is Wavelength. Been around a while under a few owners. Historically has focused on Pacific Northwest, but recently has stuck out further (both in content and in distribution of the print version). And actually trying some interesting things with their online version (including integrated videos inside the magazine).

A brand new one (full disclosure - which I am involved with) is California Kayaker. Covers all forms of kayaking in California. 4th quarterly issue is just out, and sticking to the basic model (print and static online) for now.

For those that feel it is good to have these magazines, it is easy (and free) to support them. These 2 magazines are both "advertiser supported" magazines, so are free to readers if you pick up from a shop that has them or read the online version. The more people who view the magazines, the more attractive they are to advertisers. So just by reading the magazine, you are helping them survive.

Want to go above and beyond in helping them, send out the URLs for these magazines to your club email lists, post on Facebook, in blogs, or otherwise get the word out so others can also read the magazines. And/or when reading, click on the links for advertiser of interest, so the advertiser sees interest coming by way of their ads when they look at the web statistics.

Good riddance
It was a crappy magazine that was basically a waste of paper. It had no interesting content for sea kayakers whatsoever. I hated the fact that I couldn’t opt out of receiving it, as it went right from the mailbox to the recycling bin. I’m glad to hear it’s gone and a few trees will be saved.

Trying to be everything to everybody
just didn’t work. Not much in the Paddler that ever interested me. Too bad, but I won’t miss it.

Our sea kayak club here tried going to an electronic newsletter, and faced a near-insurrection over it. It got so bad that nobody wants to volunteer to produce a newsletter anymore because of all the whining they’d have to put up with.

And since sea kayakers tend to be over 40, your point holds in this case.

RIVER magazine was BEST
Sure do miss that publication from the late nineties by Mike McLeod,…I think that was the editor. I thought it was excellent but sad to see it lasted only a couple years or so. I still have almost ALL the editions.

And I thought I had a severe reaction when I read this in the OP’s post:

“So ends the sad saga of print media in general and meaningful paddling content in particular.”

OpenSource software development pages sometimes have “Donate” buttons, transactions are typically through PayPal

One more reason to drop ACA
Warning: A related rant, mostly (but not completely) on topic:

I’ve been an ACA member for a number of years. I’m also an ACA instructor, currently training camp staff and Girl Scout leaders to take kids on flatwater (Canoe I). I’m a volunteer and receive no pay for my classes or to cover my expenses of certification. I’m going to cancel my ACA membership and drop my instructor cert. ACA has moved away from my interests in public volunteer instruction and toward professional instructors. They’ve added even more requirements to instructors (CPR and First Aid) in addition to the costs of the initial cert and maintenance and SEI fees. I make sure my classes are covered with certified CPR and First Aid staff; I don’t have to do it all. I love teaching adults who get kids outdoors, but I just can’t afford it any more. The magazine was a bit of a bonus, not great, but I can buy the magazine for a lot less than my yearly ACA fees.

Rant off:


It sure was nice to read about it here and not get any notice at all from the ACA. Maybe they thought people would just forget about it?

Bill H.