Surfer Magazine’s Final Issue Due To Pandemic

Woman Surfer

By: D. Kennedy

A magazine that helped create the wave-riding legacies of today is printing its final edition, as suspended operations from the COVID-19 pandemic have cut deep. Surfer Magazine, founded in 1960 by John Severson, was started with a single issue. It spawned beach culture publications everywhere through lush photography and California stories. 

The magazine furloughed its staff last Friday and has ceased further print and online content offerings. 

“We were told that we were being technically furloughed, but it was pretty clear there was no intention to bring the jobs back at any point, that essentially our duties had ended. No one thought that we were doing great, as far as business was going, especially since COVID hit. We had a lot of advertisers pulling back or pulling out completely,” Todd Prodanovich, Surfer’s editor in chief since 2015, said. 

Surfer paved the way for magazines like Surfer’s Journal in the U.S and Surfing World in Australia. It became the first niche sports magazine to gain any sort of success. It was much more than a magazine for a lot of surfers of a certain generation. It was groundbreaking and remains a cultural touchstone in many ways. 

Though founded in Orange County, the magazine was based in recent years in Carlsbad, in San Diego’s North County. It reached its peak in the early 2000s before struggling to transition its readership online in the digital advertising business model. Surfer Magazine was then acquired in 2019 by American Media Inc., which owned The National Enquirer. 

“Surfing is sort of the artful relationship between humans and the ocean. So all the photos and stuff about surfboards, all of it has an art factor to it that gives it a level of being that goes beyond most topical magazines,” said Steve Pezman, who worked at the magazine for 20 years before founding The Surfer’s Journal.