Interview with Co-Founder, COO & Editor Colin Murphy
by Joe Seigel
Year founded: June 2014
Staff size and breakdown: The triad of owners – Publisher Colin Lovett, Editor Colin Murphy, and Webmaster Kurt Ross all wear multiple hats from creating content to handling ad sales. We also have a handful of freelance writers and photographers.
Key demographics: LGBTQ and urban progressive community
Web site: www.boom.lgbt
PPQ: What feature or features of #Boom have been the most popular with readers?
Editor Colin Murphy: I’m happy to report that a timely hard news story still does very well. But articles showcasing community members and their contributions, LGBTQ history, and our event photography are some of the favorites.
PPQ: Who came up with the name and what is the inspiration for it?
Murphy: It was a collaborative effort. We knew we wanted to incorporate the hashtag into our branding and #Boom worked perfectly with our “#news, #advocacy #community” tagline. “Boom” as a phrase and on social media was embraced early on by the LGBTQ community whenever someone was proving a point, sharing empowering news, or ending a debate with the proverbial mic drop. It’s a statement, it’s a sound, it’s us.
PPQ: What differentiates #Boom from other gay media outlets in the St. Louis metro area?
Murphy: There are five LGBTQ publications in Missouri – three in St. Louis – ranging from print to online only. I think what sets #Boom apart is our boots on the ground approach to covering the entire LGBTQ community. You can find us interviewing a politician, hitting a non-profit board meeting or fundraiser, then closing out the evening covering a leather contest or drag pageant some days. The diversity of our coverage is something we’re very proud of.
PPQ: What challenge has #Boom had to overcome since its inception?
Murphy: Monetizing the website when the community is used to the traditional print publication. It’s easier to tell a potential advertiser we put X number of issues on the street each month vs. explaining web traffic, unique users, and page views.
PPQ: What challenge or challenges is #Boom facing now?
Murphy: When we first launched, oftentimes queer media would be the only press at a local LGBTQ event, other than Pride. We basically had the story to ourselves. More and more since marriage equality we’ll see the AP, Post Dispatch, Riverfront Times, NPR, and a couple of the local news stations on the scene in addition to the LGBTQ press. So it’s definitely upped our hustle and our game.
PPQ: How has #Boom changed since it was first launched?
Murphy: We were one of the pioneer websites to migrate to the new .lgbt top-level domain (TLD) in 2015. Our original website was boommagstl.com, so we jumped at the chance to become boom.lgbt. We were the first media outlet in the nation and second in the world along with PinkNews to do so, and honestly, it was one of the best decisions we’ve made. It’s really optimized our SEO and solidified our brand.
PPQ: What one change would you like to make?
Murphy: We’d definitely still like to launch a print product at some point.
Murphy: In June 2014 we were given a heads up from someone in the Recorder of Deeds Office that they were secretly issuing marriage licenses to four same-sex couples who were going to be wed in St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s office. We were able to break that story along with the Post-Dispatch, who were also given a heads up. The case immediately brought a lawsuit from the Attorney General and lead to the legal recognition of same-sex marriages in St. Louis ahead of the Obergefell decision by the U.S. Supreme Court the following year.
PPQ: On the Kinsey Scale of 0-6 (exclusively straight to totally gay), how gay is your web site?
Murphy: We’re pretty darn gay! I’d say a hard 5 since we do cover entertainment and progressive issues that aren’t exclusively LGBTQ.
PPQ: Do you see yourself as an “activist journalist”? If so, in what way?
Murphy: Publisher Colin Lovett and I actually met in 2009 at the National LGBTQ Equality March in D.C. and subsequently worked on actions here locally as well as in the LGBTQ non-profit and LGBT media arenas together, so yes, there’s activism in our DNA.
PPQ: What’s the most surprising feedback you’ve received from a reader?
Murphy: We hear all the time from folks who don’t go out anymore or can’t make it to particular events and feel that they are connected to the LGBTQ community through us. It’s why we do what we do.
PPQ: What advice would you give to anyone who may want to launch their own GLBT website?
Murphy: This goes for any local or regional LGBTQ media endeavor: It’s a labor of love, the hours are long, and money is oftentimes a struggle. But it’s a unique privilege to document and celebrate the LGBTQ community. You’ll be in the middle of some amazing things.