By Steve Novotney
It’s Wheeling, a city with, surprisingly, only one zip code.
That’s it, and these days, no matter the size of the city, it’s very rare.
So why not use it?
That’s exactly what the publishers of InWheeling Magazine did with its Spring 2015 issue, and the edition has attracted much attention – even from other media outlets in the Friendly City.
And that’s even rarer than a single-zip-code-city.
“After we settled on the main headline – ‘26003’ – a group of us were discussing the rest of the cover, and our graphic designer thought we needed a little more text at the bottom, and I suggested, ‘Wheeling Is It Again.’ But that’s when David said, ‘No Wheeling is IN again to go with the name of the magazine,’” said Managing Editor Dominic Cerrone. “It’s really true – Wheeling is in again. There are good reasons why we are hearing chatter around the state about what is happening here, and that’s a very positive thing.”
The Spring 2015 edition offers articles that detail several blooming businesses, the additions and landmarks in Centre Market, the growth of the East Wheeling community, and several new restaurants that recently have opened in the Friendly City.
“This issue builds a case that proves that Wheeling is ‘in,’” said InWheeling Publisher David Allinder. “If you look at the most important aspect of a city that is growing, it’s going to have a food scene, homes are being renovated, new small businesses are opening, and Wheeling has all of those components.
“That’s what this issue is about, and we’re far from done. It’s impossible for us to include everyone all at once because we only have so much space,” he said. “There’s so much more, and it’s all on our radar, and each issue of the magazine takes the reader on a ride each quarter. Each magazine is designed to tell a certain story, and there are many more stories to tell.”
The first edition of InWheeling was circulated in August 2007 for a few different reasons: First, it was Cerrone’s observation for several years as a person growing up in a shrinking municipality that, despite the decline, it managed to retain much of its cultural integrity. Then when Allinder really came to know the Friendly City, it proved to be much more than what common travelers viewed of it along Interstate 70. Finally, because the persistent negativity was simply unwarranted, it was time to change that, or at least try.
“Dominic has always had it in his mind that he’s wanted to do a magazine. It thought it would be kind of cool to do a magazine,” Allinder said. “I was showing my photo with a friend in a magazine called World Magazine in Pittsburgh, and I asked him if Wheeling had anything like this, and he said no.
“So we started researching magazines in cities the size of Wheeling, and we found out that there were several. Youngstown had one, Altoona had one, and Johnstown had one, so immediately we wondered why Wheeling didn’t have one, too,” he said. “That’s when we took the next few steps as far as getting an idea about advertising and the potential for generated revenue.”
Once they had these projections, the two of them moved forward to design and produce a prototype despite their inexperience.
“But when we started showing people in town our ideas, it got a lot of people very interested in the potential,” Cerrone said. “The entire goal from the beginning was to offer a new perspective on the city, and that has to do with the journalism and the photography. Not only did we want it to be journalistic, but we also wanted it to be poetic.
“The nice thing now about the magazine is, because it’s quarterly, it’s very reflective,” he said. “For me, I like the separation because when you are writing about a city and trying to capture the spirit of the city, it requires that you live in it, but you also have to be isolated at times to be able to accomplish everything we attempt to in every issue.”
While Cerrone’s knowledge of the history, the industrial background, and the cultural past of Wheeling has guided the selection of topics in issue after issue, it has been Allinder’s lack of experience in Wheeling that has played a pivotal role in the success of InWheeling Magazine because of his non-local perspective.
“I was amazed with the old houses and the massive old mansions,” Allinder recalled. “I was just used to driving through Wheeling on the interstate and seeing all the rubble around Wheeling Island or the campus of Wheeling Jesuit because of work. I didn’t get to see much of Wheeling before Dom started showing me around.
“But then I started seeing all of the jewels that surround us and that have been here for years and years, but I also believe that there are so many extraordinary people doing extraordinary things right now and that’s why for our first issue we had Craig Karges on the cover. He’s a Wheeling native, but he’s also performs all over the world. That’s what we like to do, and what we have tried to do with every issue because we want to encourage others to do the same.”
Cerrone’s motive? Authenticity – but not the magazine’s, the city of Wheeling’s. Ya know, like your grandma?
“One of the biggest reasons why I was interested in starting this magazine was that Wheeling is a very authentic city. It’s a city that’s been through a lot. It’s kind of like a grandmother,” Cerrone explained. “You don’t appreciate them until you get a little weather on your skin. This city has been through a lot, it has a very complex history that not many other cities can attest to, and it can be a difficult city to understand.
“And there are a lot of layers between the history and the many cultures, and I like doing the magazine because it allows us to celebrate all of that,” he said. “We bring that aspects out that other forms of journalism like TV or newspaper can’t because it’s not that relevant to what they are doing. They have to report more pressing issues.”
Increasing the number of issues has been considered, and so has the addition in pages, but producing four, 66-page issues per year has evolved into a process that Allinder and Cerrone have come to appreciate because it allows what they refer to as, “the soul” of each issue to reveal itself.
And issue after issue, story after story, people pic after people pic, InWheeling emits a vibe through the articles, the community involvement, and the alluring design and elegant photography not much felt in Wheeling since, ironically, the lunch-counter days at G.C. Murphy’s.
“We get a lot of feedback every issue, and some people very generously offer to credit InWheeling Magazine for being very powerful in this turnaround that we are seeing now,” Allinder said. “The fact that we’ve just kept hitting people every quarter with what is exceptional over and over again, it seems, has helped get a lot of people into the right mindset, and that has been our intention from the very first issue.
“The fact that I am not from Wheeling was actually very helpful because I would even catch Dominic on certain occasions being negative about something because he’s heard the negatives over and over again,” he said. “I would have to remind him about how exceptional something was and that allowed him to shed that attitude and see something special for how special it really is.”