When this paper debuted in Tampa Bay in 1988, it was called Creative Loafing, a spin-off from an alt-weekly founded by Chick and Debby Eason in 1972 in Atlanta. In 1994, when Ben Eason purchased the Tampa paper from his parents, he changed the name to the Weekly Planet, and started up a second Planet in Sarasota in 1998. Two years later, Ben and siblings bought the entire chain, including the papers in Atlanta and Charlotte as well as the Florida editions. With this issue, our annual compendium of "The Best of the Bay," the Planet returns to its roots: We're Creative Loafing once more.
And OK, yes, we inadvertently published under the CL name at the end of May.
See why we're calling this The Time Travel Issue?
We thought of various strategies to highlight the transition, like letting you know some of the names we rejected:
c) Tampa Bay Seen
e) Big Ben
We also thought it would be fun to spread a conspiracy theory: Planet employees forced to swear allegiance to CL name! Dissenters subjected to waterboarding, or worse, shortened smoke breaks!
But whimsy aside, we realize that there's a divergence of opinion about the change. I run into people who are relieved that they can go back to calling the paper "the Loaf," and others who hate that the Planet name is history. And there are those who suspect that the change is somehow related to the fact that there are suddenly 500 new faux/ free/ alt/ schmalt weeklies/ dailies/ monthlies popping up like whack-a-moles on every Tampa Bay streetcorner. For the record, there's no connection; the name-change discussion got underway long before the flood of freebies.
I came to the paper two years ago, so I hadn't established a preference for either name. Having been in the alt-weekly world for a long time, I knew and respected the Creative Loafing papers, and was glad to be joining the family. I also saw the affection people around here had for the Planet, Superman jokes or no Superman jokes.
But now, frankly, it's nice to be able to claim the family ties outright. Creative Loafing Inc. has grown into a multimedia company with national reach it's a brand name with clout and it just makes sense for the papers in all four markets to share in the benefits.
And the good thing about the Creative Loafing brand is that it represents just what the Planet name has always represented, and what CL represented when it first arrived here: good writing, thorough reporting, distinctive voices, authoritative arts coverage and a deep connection with the community a dedication to what we've come to call Urban Exploring, geared to alerting readers to the rich potential of Tampa Bay.
Nowhere is that dedication more evident than in the annual Best of the Bay issue, a special edition the paper inaugurated in 1990 and has been running every year since. And this year, in homage to BOTBs past, we decided to tally up the lists and find out who's been winning accolades from the first issue onwards: hence, our first Best of the Bay Hall-O'-Fame. You'll see vintage photos of some of the first 10 inductees throughout the book; their respective spaces are invaded by a time traveler named CL3000 with a Zelig-like penchant for showing up in every CL era and then some.
Speaking of homage, the Weekly Planet name lives on, sort of, in the section formerly known as "Planet Picks." Events editor Leilani Polk's invaluable selection of things to see and do is now called, oddly enough, "See & Do." And it's accompanied by a day-by-day must-do list called (wait for it) "Weekly Planner." (Clip and save!)
As for "The Short List," our smartass take on the week that was, it has moved to the section formerly known as "Talk of the Town." (Yup, here comes another name change.) "TOTT," besides being a rip-off from another more venerable publication, just didn't fit the contents anymore. Now, with its mix of news, columns, comedy and urban exploration, the section is called "UrbEx."
You'll see more changes as the weeks go on, but the bottom line is this: We know the most important thing about the paper isn't what we call it. It's whether we keep the quality high and the information reliable. That's exactly what we intend to do, and if that isn't the case, please let me know.
I'm just getting used to it, too.