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This calendar is also being published in each issue of Wide Open.


 

The History of Wide Open Magazine

By Jeremy Povenmire

It all started in 1983. Ralph Roades returned to Missouri from the sunny state of California. He had sold his last motorcycle out west and brought his newborn son home to raise. He opted for the simplicity of small town life and settled in Warsaw, Missouri.

It didn't take Ralph long to grow restless; he soon started a fishing tournament circuit and magazine in Warsaw called The Midwest Outdoorsman. It was a success and it brought Ralph into the world of selling print advertising and being a magazine editor. He ran the circuit and magazine until the fall of 1998.

His friend Michelle started The Lake magazine in the fall of 2000. She did the fall issue 2000 and spring issue 2001. Then Ralph took it over. He ran The Lake until summer of 2003 when he sold it.

During the years of floating around in his fishing boat and editing The Midwest Outdoorsman magazine the passion for motorcycles never left Ralph's heart. He also stayed in touch with a lot of his old motorcycle riding friends, friends of his for more than 30 years.

Times had changed though. The people who rode motorcycles were also changing. Many business people around the Warsaw area were riding and one day a local acquaintance of Ralph's made the comment that "one of the most colorful characters in the Warsaw area didn't even have a bike."

This made Ralph think. You know, that guy was right. My son is old enough now that he is nearly on his own and we don't live down that long stretch of gravel out in the sticks anymore. (Ralph had organized a group of area residents to pave the 3 mile stretch from the highway to their houses). Maybe it was time to get back on two wheels again.

So Ralph decided to put together a bike. He had done this before so he did just like the old days and started cruising around and assembling parts from old friends and new. From his efforts his hot rod 113 Incher was born. It wasn't the same after that.

Ralph's The Lake magazine started having ads from motorcycle related businesses. He did a special insert in The Lake magazine that catered to the motorcycle crowd. One day he got a phone call from his graphic artist and she commented that he now had over 30 pages of advertising and editorial in The Lake magazine that talked about bikes.

So Ralph decided to explore the idea of producing a full time motorcycle magazine. He came up with the name Wide Open magazine. This was from a list of about 50 names originally. There was no turning back now.

Ralph began beating the pavement to get supporters. It was a hard sell. He had no real magazine to show potential advertisers, just a successful insert in The Lake magazine and a dream. So he had to find a select group of people who would share in his vision.

The first issue of Wide Open began. Ralph went to a special group of people to get their support. He traveled around and got the support of Gail's Harley-Davidson, St. Joe Harley-Davidson, Jack Miller Motorcycles, Wolverine Choppers, Evil Twin Cycles, Gasoline Alley, Robert's Bourget Bikes, Carriage Works and Dakota Digital among others. Things were starting to come together.

Ralph assembled some good editorial about David Allen Coe, David Mann and lots of cool bike information. Soon he had a legitimate magazine with 64 pages of content.

From there it snowballed each issue and Ralph began making less calls to solicit advertising because many of his potential clients started calling him. The second issue grew to 84 pages. People started noticing, many amateur writers started sending Ralph material and soon he had a great group of reporters to choose from for story assignments. The colorful DynaMike submitted his first of many cool stories to come.

The third issue ended up being 112 pages in July. Karla graced the cover on an American IronHorse Texas Chopper from Jack Miller. Within a month of the magazine coming out Jack Miller was sold out of Texas Choppers. Respect was paid to some people who paved the way for the lifestyle of modern motorcycling and we all got to go racing at the All Harley Drags in Kansas City.

We have come a long way since that first year. Our issues now average 124 pages that include bike features, rally news, bike show news, "Readers Who Ride", "Ladies Who Ride", technical info, motorcycle events and more... And new in 2008, Ralph added a Hot Rod section featuring hot rods and classic cars. Who would have thought we would evolve so quickly into the largest Midwest Motorcycle Magazine?

But wait! Ralph didn't stop there. As a natural extension of the magazine, Ralph did his first bike show in St. Louis in Feb. of 2005. It was an overwhelming success with crowds that reached over 12,000. So he followed up with adding Kansas City to his repertoire in 2006 and Des Moines in 2007. (The winners' bikes are all featured in Wide Open Magazine.)

You have to know Ralph to know he is always thinking about what he can do next. Never satisfied...that's Ralph. Well he came up with the idea that since his Wide Open Girls are so popular out at the rallies and bike shows, why not do a swimsuit calendar featuring all the girls and that is just what he did. He produced the first calendar in 2006.

Now we ask, "Ralph, what is next?"