Leaving a Life Long Legacy

“The magazine actually wasn’t my idea,” says Darlene Mazzone, President of Mazzone Communications and publisher of PADUCAH LIFE Magazine and The Wedding Book.

“I was probably as skeptical as anyone else in the winter of 1990 when my partner and marketing mentor, Ray Lane, tossed out the idea,” she adds. “I remember it like it was yesterday. We were driving back from a client meeting and Ray turned to me and said, ‘Why don’t we start a feature magazine?’” The rest, as they say, is history.

“It was a time when the local media was being forced to become more regional to stay viable; which meant that there was less focus on the community and more attention to the tri-state area,” Darlene explains. “Everywhere Ray and I went and everyone we met with often mentioned how much they missed having a local publication devoted solely to Paducah/McCracken County. So we decided to give it a shot.”

It was a perfect blend of words and pictures. Ray Lane moved back to Paducah in the early ‘80s to start an advertising agency. Lourdes Hospital was one of his first clients. Darlene Mazzone was the Director of Public Affairs who had hired him. Soon the writer and designer formed a marketing firm, which would go on to work with many local companies and a couple of national concerns as well. Their work for Story’s Gourmet Popcorn actually earned the duo a Best Package Design award at the International Fancy Food Convention in New York City in the late ‘80s.

“Our first edition at the holidays in 1990 was {at the time} a big oversized 9×12 edition which featured Billy and Reva Harper’s daughters, Holly and Melissa. The story was about Christmas family traditions,” Darlene recalls. “Dona Rains was a contributing writer as was Berry Craig, and we had some beautiful holiday fashion photography by Glenn Hall. It’s so nice that many of the original people who helped us get the magazine off the ground are still associated with us in some way.”

Some of the original advertisers are still with the magazine as well. In those inaugural issues were ads for Whaler’s Catch, The Holman House, the Market House Theatre, Choates Gifts, Super Valu Foods, Michelson’s, Owen Cleaners, and Paducah Bank. “I’m amazed that these loyal local businesses have literally been with the magazine since its inception,” Darlene adds. “As we often wittily say around here, ‘There would be no LIFE in Paducah without the long-standing support of these and MANY other businesses and professionals in and around our wonderful community.’”

And speaking of Paducah Bank, Darlene is quick to credit Carla Berry and Paducah Bank for making her ownership possible. “Carla has been working alongside Paducah Life Magazine since I assumed control of the publication in 1994. There has never been a time in the history of this magazine that Paducah Bank has not been a partner in its success. I’m one of many, many small and large businesses in this area who know and value the great benefit of working with a local bank and local people.”

Darlene refers to the first three years of publishing the magazine as “treating it like an orphan child.” The firm’s client work, naturally, was the first priority, so the magazine was not at the top of the list. But as the magazine grew from two the first year to three the next and a quarterly periodical by the mid-90s, it soon became apparent that local readers were asking for more. Getting more out of LIFE became the mission for the editor and her growing staff. During the past two decades, the 48-page one-color magazine printed on inexpensive offset paper has now blossomed into a 112-page glossy, full-color feature magazine worthy of comparison to any big-city specimen.

“I knew we had something of value when I was rummaging around at the Market House Museum with Mr. Manchester, maybe ten years ago, looking for some historic photos,” Darlene remembers. “He pulled open a file drawer and there, in chronological order, was a complete set of Paducah Life Magazines from the first one in 1990. I was astounded.”

After Darlene expressed her surprise, Mr. Manchester commented, “But of course we would keep each one. This is a wonderful representation of what life was like here for future generations to read and understand.”

Not only is this quality magazine providing a beautiful glimpse of LIFE in and around Paducah, it’s also leaving a legacy.