Notes from the underground

Local music magazine celebrates 20th anniversary with party at the Lo Pub

Jenny Henkelman is the current editor of Stylus. Cindy Titus

A local music magazine that was once a two-page insert in The Uniter is celebrating its 20th anniversary this weekend.

Stylus, the program guide of CKUW 95.9 FM, the University of Winnipeg’s campus radio station, will celebrate at the Lo Pub on Saturday, Oct. 10 with cake and musical performances by Mama Cutsworth, Vav Jungle, Haunter and Rob Vilar.

“Stylus’ goal is to write about stuff that doesn’t get written about much in the mainstream. And if we are writing about mainstream stuff, it’s to write about it in a different way,” current editor Jenny Henkelman said, adding that the party at the Lo Pub will be a fun-filled affair.

Stylus printed its first two issues as a magazine in 1989, but funding was scarce. In 1990 its third issue became a folded, black and white, two-page CKUW program guide insert in The Uniter.

In 1991, current University of Winnipeg Students’ Association outreach and sponsorship co-ordinator, and then CKUW manager, Ted Turner, saw potential in Stylus.

He approached the Winnipeg Free Press’s Bartley Kives, then a sociology student at the university, to become Stylus’ new editor and Stylus returned to a magazine format.

Turner attributes much of the magazine’s early success to Kives.

“Bart was so instrumental and passionate about it. We had no budget and had to beg and find a magical way to get things going,” he said.

That year, Stylus put out four issues with a circulation of 3,000. Today, Stylus is published bi-monthly and continues to print 3,000 copies per issue. At one point the magazine did go monthly but found the bi-monthly schedule a better fit.

Kives recounts a gap in the media for showcasing underground and alternative music scenes.

“We were all listening to Sonic Youth and Nirvana, but [mainstream] radio was playing Poison and hair metal.”

Stylus filled that gap.

Local artist Eve Rice, also known as Vav Jungle, believes that through the magazine’s innovative cover art and music coverage Stylus has always been a positive outlet for many independent talents, including herself.

“They were a great support, especially when the chips were down, and I mean down, on electronic music in Canada. They had the sense to examine not only my style of music, but so many others.”

Turner confirms Stylus hasn’t changed much in 20 years.

“That’s the beautiful thing about it, it’s just grown. It still covers local and national, independent and underground music. That’s what the magazine does, just larger, better and in a more beautiful way,” he said. “Although, I love the way it looked backed then. There is just so much soul the way we literally had to scotch tape it together. We built it with our hands.”

Stylus has also been the start of many journalistic careers. Like the aforementioned Kives, former editor Jill Wilson works for the Winnipeg Free Press, while Stylus’ original editor, Karla Hilton, reports for CBC Radio in Ottawa.

Kives credits all of these people for establishing Stylus, along with Chuck Molgat now in Toronto.

Meanwhile, Henkelman credits Stylus’ continuing success to its publisher, the UWSA.

“If we didn’t have them backing us up, a tiny mag like Stylus could never have survived,” she said.

“UW students should be really proud that a unique publication like Stylus is put out by their students’ association.”

Celebrate Stylus’ 20th anniversary at the Lo Pub (330 Kennedy St.) on Saturday, Oct. 10. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $5. The magazine’s October/November is on newsstands now. Preview it online at

Published in Volume 64, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 8, 2009)

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