IQ News: Insider Back In Charged

Twenty-nine-year-old Alice Bradley, editor in chief of the Web ‘zine Charged, has just been given a second lease on her professional life. Having been with the publication since 1996, when she joined as managing editor, her time at Charged has been another lesson in survival in the wacky world of Web ‘zines. When she started, Charged had a subhead of “Action Sports/Extreme Leisure,” and was funded by Weehawken, N.J.-based business Internet service provider Icon CMT Corp. But Icon ended its Web publishing aspirations when it went public last spring, folding Charged and its other zine, Word.
“We knew it was going to shut down,” Bradley says. “They wouldn’t give us money to make new hires.” Charged’s staff had dropped from 10 to four people within a few months. It could have been perceived as happening just when things were starting to percolate. But one of its main syndication deals, with the New Line Cinema/America Online joint venture The Hub, ended even before it began because it closed too.
By then, Bradley had already seen another Web property she’d worked on die: the pop-culture oriented Stim. Owned by Prodigy, it folded a couple of months after she left. “It got mired down in politics,” she recalls.
When Charged folded, Bradley kept herself busy. While still being dedicated to bringing the ‘zine back, she was also working on completing her Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing from New York’s New School. “I’ve always valued work very little,” Bradley says. “I never understood people who killed themselves for work.”
But Bradley was nonetheless ready to start in again when Charged’s white knight arrived five weeks after it folded. The rebirth came in the unlikely form of the Houston, Texas-based holding company Zapata, a firm that has gained notoriety–and more than a little flack–for trying to morph into a dominant Web player. Zapata owns all sorts of businesses, including the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a marine protein company. Formed as a unit to oversee Zapata’s Web strategies, the renamed Internet investor Zap Internet Corp.’s purchase of Word and Charged gave Bradley the opportunity to rethink what the ‘zine could be.
She decided she wanted it to concentrate on “Extreme Leisure” instead of “Action Sports.” “I wanted to broaden the audience toward females who were older and people who were leisure lovers, but not necessarily athletic,” Bradley explains. She decribes “Extreme Leisure” as “an attitude of making your own fun.
“Charged doesn’t take things seriously,” she adds. “It’s all light.”