What’s Up? Media Celebrates 20 Years
May 26, 2017 01:44PM
● By Cate Reynolds
We take a look at those who started it all, our staff, the company timeline, and snapshots of our favorite publishing moments, parties, people, and dynamic events that have shaped our communities. Celebrate our 20 years with us on June 15th at Loews Annapolis Hotel!
From the Publisher
Does anyone really know why they do something? People often ask me where I got the idea to start a magazine and I have thought about this question. My previous careers included: being the irst female stock broker in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1966; raising two daughters; starting a plant store in Brooklyn, New York, called “Growing Things;” working within Jimmy Carter’s White House as a “special assistant to the special assistant to the president;” and returning to my financial background by becoming an investment broker and banker. As an investment banker, I came to know, and fell in love with, the Chesapeake region as I raised the money and partnered in a 360-acre development in Chesapeake Beach. I had sailed in lakes in my home state of New Hampshire since childhood, but had never experienced something like the Chesapeake Bay. I bought a sail boat and commuted on weekends to Annapolis. During this time, my interest for the Chesapeake, its history, and the charm of surrounding towns only grew.
In 1990, I left Chevy Chase, Maryland, and moved to Edgewater (outside Annapolis) forever. I thought I would be happily retired, but soon found that I missed my connections to people who knew me and knew what kind of person I am. I had no reputation here. Am I a person who can be counted on, or am I a goof-off? I was surprised by how much I regretted not being “known.”
What I knew about myself was that I enjoyed doing things that helped people. I enjoy solving problems and being creative. I was very idealistic and believed I could accomplish whatever I was ready to work hard at. I also believed, and still do, that when people are brought together through events, sports, philanthropic efforts—or almost any sort of community happening—they learn about how to value each other. I believe that communities are strengthened by putting people together with a call to create something, whether an event or a new hospital. I thought that if I could create a publication that told people about what was happening in their environment I could help strengthen my community. And that is why I woke up one morning knowing that I would start a magazine called What’s Up?
During the years, it has grown from one magazine to six publications and we also host our own special events, some pictured on page 30. In the beginning, we had many funny stories because we didn’t really know how to do large events. I remember, vividly, the first time we hosted a Most Eligible Singles event at Loews Annapolis Hotel. We knew that tickets were selling nicely but didn’t understand how many people actually decide to come at the last minute. Then-Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer was coming to the event as my guest and couldn’t get her car out of the parking garage off Main Street. She called the police department to find out what was going on. They tracked down the grid lock that was blocking all entrances into and out of Downtown Annapolis to the Most Eligible Singles event! I was called to explain to the police and all I could do was laugh! I had to promise the police that I wouldn’t allow any more people in because we would be over the fire code, but all ended well; the police started directing traffic and the Mayor found her way to our event.
This year, we started a new division selling tickets for our events, as well as other local organizations, called “What’s Up? Tix.” With our great new “What’s Up? Tix” software, we shouldn’t have any more experiences like causing city wide gridlock again!
Finally, I want to thank all of my 40-plus employees now and the many who’ve helped What’s Up? Media thrive over the years, and all of our readers who have made our publications possible and such a wonderful experience. Many, many of you have become friends and I appreciate you all.
What’s Up? Visionaries & Salutes
The creatives who founded and have shaped our publicationsBy James Houck
Publisher & PresidentWhat’s Up? Media was founded by Veronica Tovey in 1997, but her publishing story begins years earlier. Falling in love with Annapolis and completing her move to the region in 1990, the former fiduciary and always entrepreneur found herself in new environs that piqued her curiosity and beckoned her creativity…and she needed help navigating it all, literally. Save for a Rand McNally road atlas, Veronica couldn’t find an easy-to-read map of Downtown Annapolis and so she launched a company in her home’s basement to produce a colorful map of the city, complete with interesting anecdotes, factoids, and advertiser support. Six years later, the publishing bug bit again and she dreamt up What’s Up? Magazine under the banner slogan “All the Entertainment and Sports.” It was a dream come true and when asked about how she developed the business plan to make it all work, Tovey confides she was non-traditional. She didn’t belabor the financial minutiae, she just knew it would work with persistence and keeping it fun. Twenty years later, she’s still very much enjoying the ride.
Lulu & Callie
What’s Up?’s Best FriendsWhat’s Up? Media has always been a dog-friendly company and during our first 10 years, if you paid a visit to our office, chances are that you were greeted by the friendly tail-wag and curiosity of Callie, our publisher’s faithful English Setter. Callie was an old salt with a lover’s heart and when she passed on to doggy heaven in 2011, her presence left a void. It would be Lulu, a Shitzu, to the rescue a couple of years later and ever since, arresting the office with her cuddliness and energetic spunk day in, day out.
Original EditorAs our flagship publication’s first Editor—a role she maintained for eight years—Denny mixed the creative formula that brought Annapolis and Anne Arundel County a publication focused on the region’s best entertainment, sports and activities, dining, and Chesapeake lifestyle interests
Original Art DirectorStarting in the basement office of What’s Up? with Tovey and Denny, Laing would serve as the publication’s lead designer for 10-plus years. She did it all; article layouts, advertisements, inserts, logos, letterhead, ancillary pubs, and much more.
Editorial DirectorBeginning as a part-time editorial assistant in 2001, Houck kept creating more work for himself to the point of earning promotions as the company’s Assistant Editor, Sports & Dining Editor, Managing Editor, and finally Editorial Director by 2011.
If he’s not brainstorming/planning our months and years ahead, he’s winning the Piney Cup Championship with his hockey team Battalion.
Chief Operating OfficerBeginning as an administrative intern in 2002 by helping out several hours per week after the high school dismissal bell each day, Raymond (née Eutsler) progressed and grew with the company, eventually directing all advertising production before, ultimately, becoming the company’s COO.
If she wasn’t running daily office operations at What’s Up?, she’d be crabbing on the Severn with her daughter and grandfather.
Account ExecutiveAs one of the most headstrong, savvy, and personable employees of What’s Up? Media, Sauve (née Stanton) has fostered client and co-worker relationships for more than 11 years, as well as grown company sales consistently year-over-year.
When she’s not out developing more client relationships, she’s hiking and biking the trails!
BookkeeperWith a heart of gold and jack-of-all-trades work ethic, Ayres has served as the company’s accounting arm, pocketbook, human resources go-to, and friend for the better part of a decade.
When she’s not taking care of all our financial needs, she’s at home gardening, watching a Western, or planning her next overseas vacay!
EditorMaril directed the editorial ship during what was, arguably, the largest growth period for the publications in terms of content, projects, and new endeavors; 2005 to 2011. Her own regular column, “Antiques,” was treasured by many longtime readers.
Account ExecutiveFor several years, Carta developed client relationships within the Annapolis market before breaking into uncharted waters and becoming the lead account executive for our West County publication. Altogether, she has been with the company for more than 10 years.
If she’s not out building her clients in the ever-growing West County region, she’s out hiking, traveling, and volunteering at the SPCA.
Joanna Baker & Melanie Quinn
Special Events CoordinatorsThe dynamic duo that brought imaginative event concepts to life, Baker (mid-2000s) and Quinn (2012–present) took the event production department to new heights by making each event—be it Best Of, Nutcracker Tea, or The LOOK—better than the last.
When they’re not planning our events, you can find them on the fields with their kids or visiting a local art exhibit.
Art DirectorUnder the guidance of former Art Director Michael Nguyen, Schwartz developed into our go-to designer for unique editorial layouts, contemporary advertising design, and, upon becoming the department’s Director, a refreshed look for the entire publication.
When he’s not putting together our publications, he’s at the gym putting on some muscle!
Account ExecutiveAs What’s Up? Media expanded across the Bay Bridge and began publishing our Eastern Shore magazine, we knew that a locals’ local would be the linchpin to our successful business and community development, and Jarboe fit the bill perfectly for almost the first full decade of the publication (she retired in 2016).
Tony Lewis, Jr.
PhotographerLewis was introduced to our publication nearly 10 years ago. We liked Tony; we liked Tony’s eye. He’s photographed nearly everything under the Maryland sun for our publications. From restaurants to weddings, and watermen to baseball diamonds, he’s captured it all.
Notable events in the history of What’s Up? Media
What’s Up? Media is founded by Veronica Tovey and the company’s first publication is mailed in May
Where’s Wilma is introduced as a giveaway and future What’s Up? mascot
The company office grows from Publisher Veronica Tovey’s basement to its new home in the Mason Building at 929 West Street
Our magazine graduates from saddle stitch binding (that is, stapled at center) to a perfect bind (à la paperback), which was confirmation of our growth
The 2004 reader-voted Best of Annapolis contest is established, along with the largest awards party in town held in June
What’s Up? Annapolis celebrates its 10th anniversary and What’s Up? Eastern Shore is launched
Our biannual publication, What’s Up? Weddings, launches and personalizes the bridal experience with local and regional coverage and insights
On the heels of launching our What’s Up? Weddings publication, we organized a Bridal Expo that gave brides- and grooms-to-be, as well as their families, a first-look and meet-and-greet experience with several dozen regional vendors
What’s Up? West County is launched, delivering western Anne Arundel County its own magazine
Company moves from 929 West Street to the Power Technology Center at 201 Defense Highway
The LOOK, a new beauty and wellness section within our magazines, is launched; subsequently, we establish The LOOK Party, which quickly becomes one of our largest drawing events
What’s Up? Tix is born. A one-stop ticket shop for fundraisers, performances and special events in the Chesapeake region
A few of our favorite publishing moments, articles, endeavors, and achievements
Biennial Professional Peer Review Surveys, Results, and Parties
For more than 10 years, our Top Docs, Top Dentists, and Leading Lawyers lists have assisted readers in selecting professionals to guide their medical, dental, or legal needs. To celebrate the selected professionals, we organized networking parties to honor their participation and achievement.
Most Eligible Singles
One of the, shall we say, more interesting projects we’ve ever concocted began as an editorial showcase of locals looking for love (about 20 folks featured in print) and grew into an annual catchall event, held each November for several years, for casual, as well as, long-term cupid connections.
Philanthropy equals community vitality; What’s Up? Media annually donates upwards of $40,000 to various charitable organizations______________________________________________
Our June 2004 issue unveiled what has, since, become an annual reader favorite. Everybody wants to know the restaurant with the best crab cake or who sells the most sparkling diamonds. The contest grew into our Eastern Shore and West County publications and, this year, we’ve broadened the contest categories to include Best Doctors, Dentists, and Vets (see ballot on page 65). To celebrate it all, we throw the Best Party in town with the winning restaurants serving their best, music, dancing, a silent auction benefitting local charities, and creative amusements.
Join us at this year's party!
On the heels of launching our What’s Up? Weddings publication, we organized a Bridal Expo that gave brides- and grooms-to-be, as well as their families, a first-look and meet-and-greet experience with several dozen regional vendors. The annual event, held in February, continues to be a match made in heaven.
It has grown into a family-beloved holiday tradition and a sellout event. So much so, that we added several seatings to the annual Nutcracker Tea. And those seatings sold out. Will we add more? Find out this coming December.
When we developed The LOOK section in our magazine, we thought, “How can we make this beauty and wellness content jump off the page?” Beyond the energized layouts and revealing articles, we went to task in the literal sense and brought this magazine department to life by making a biannual event out of it. Though it feels a bit like a ladies night out, the event is so much more (there’s even fun for the fellas) and includes salon treatments, pop-up shopping, food and drink, and wellness presentations from industry pros.
Remember These Events?
The once-annual Easter Tea, the monthly Annapolis Supper Club meals, Annapolis Restaurant Week (yup, we introduced and produced the very first), and the Annapolis Forum political panel discussion. Did we leave any out?
Women Who Make a Difference
(est. 2006):Honors for best this and best that abound, but what about the actual individuals who’ve impacted our communities for the better and left legacies that inspire? Beginning in March 2006, and recognizing Women’s History Month, we honored leading ladies of our communities; profiles and portraits of female leaders in a variety of fields, from the arts and education to politics and civic duty. Pictured: Dr. Carol Parham, who was honored in 2009 and had served as superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools, 1993–2001.
(est. 2009)What happens when two of the region’s most talented chefs face off in a culinary challenge? We wanted to find out and, so, in 2009, we pitted the Best of Annapolis-winning chef and his counterpart on the Eastern Shore in a friendly competition to create multi-course meals using locally-available ingredients. The results have proven to be oh-so-delicious. Pictured: Chefs Brendan Keegan and Olivier Senoussaoui squared off in 2009.
What’s Up? Teachers
(est. 2015)Each January, we honor the private school teachers who not only positively impact and influence their students, but also their school communities as a whole. Each teacher is nominated by their school’s principal. Pictured: Magdalene Sfondouris, English and Creative Writing teacher at St. Martin’s Lutheran School of Annapolis, was honored in 2017.
People Who’ve Made a Difference/What’s Up? Visionaries
(est. 2011):The evolution of “Women Who Made a Difference” and “People to Watch” would birth “People Who’ve Made A Difference,” which later became “What’s Up? Visionaries.” The feature would be the true culmination of honoring community leaders—philanthropic, business, arts, education, politics, etc.—that have shaped our cities, counties, and state. It’s an editorial feature we revisit year after year. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of worthy honorees—a testament to our vibrant and diverse region. Pictured: Cathy and Jon Belcher, who were honored in 2017 for their philanthropy and business success.
People to Watch
(est. 2009):On the heels and in the vein of our well-received Women Who Make a Difference article series, we juxtaposed legacies-made with legacies-to-be. People to Watch debuted in January 2009 and profiled a collection of up-and-comers, each under 40-years-old, whom we prognosticated would make positive waves in our communities. Though playing Nostradamus was ambitious, it’s safe to say that most honorees proved their mettle.
“Last Call for Watermen”
by Jim Lodico, April 2014Writer Jim Lodico spends sunrise to sunset with the Mahoney watermen, Pat Sr. and Jr., collecting their thoughts on the crabbing and fishing industries of the Chesapeake Bay. As the last watermen operating out of Eastport in Annapolis, there’s a palpable fear of an industry squeezing out individual watermen, but the Mahoneys have a business formula that seems to be working.
by Barbara Pash, April 2015Referred to by some environmentalists at the “gateway to Bay pollution,” the Conowingo Dam became a flashpoint of public and private political controversy when we covered its environmental impact and proposed cleanup efforts within this feature article.
by Mark Smith, February 2015It’s a scary fact that the Baltimore-Washington corridor—specifically, the BWI transportation center in Anne Arundel County—is one of the nation’s most active human trafficking hubs. The good news is that federal, state, and local law enforcement are working together to curb this crime, as we learned in Smith’s feature article. His follow-up article on the “Heroin Epidemic” was equally eye-opening about that which afflicts our very own communities.