And with mastheads a good bit shorter than competitors', Dennis magazines make do with the barest of bare-bones staffs-yet are careful not to scrimp when it comes to content, another nod to the readers. "Dennis puts out thick magazines, they guarantee 140 or 150 pages every single issue," says Malcolm Campbell, publisher of Blender. "Particularly in the music category, that's an anomaly."
Doing your best under less-than-ideal circumstances is something Colvin learned early in life. Though he enjoyed a comfortably middle-class Protestant upbringing in Belfast, his childhood coincided with the terrorism of the late 1960s and 1970s. As a kid, he was accustomed to the constant British Army presence and a total absence of nightclubs.
"Growing up in Belfast, you were very wary of every car you walked past, in case there was a bomb," he says.
"There was only one cinema, but everybody was afraid to go because it was bound to be blown up anytime soon." The constant threat of violence fostered community-as well as casual boy-girl interaction at private parties, he jokes, "albeit in a pretty weird and slightly desperate environment."
Colvin's father was an accountant who quit to start his own grocery chain. Things quickly didn't work out. "He opened one store, then another, and then died of a heart attack," he says. Colvin was 10 when his mother took over the business and vowed to get Stephen and his older brother out of Northern Ireland. At 15, he left his homeland for an English boarding school.
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