By Brooke Hill | Staff Writer
There’s a new editor in town.
Waco native Craig Cunningham said he is excited to be back in Waco as the new editor and creative director of the Baylor Line Foundation. In his office filled with Baylor paraphernalia, countless books and keepsakes, we sat down to discuss what brought him back to Waco, his goals and what he’s excited to bring to the Baylor Line Foundation’s magazine and its media.
Q: Tell me a little bit about your family, I know you just welcomed a baby girl.
My first baby, she’s 2 now. I’ve been married to my wife, we’re high school sweethearts, we went to Baylor together. We went to Austin after Baylor for work and then we had our first daughter Ada — she’s two and a half. And then we just had a baby named Indie, who’s about two weeks old.
Q: What all have you done since graduating Baylor?
A: I was a writer coming out of college. I got a job writing a series of middle grade fantasy books, like adventure fantasy books. So I did that for a couple years, and then wanted to go down to Austin to try some new stuff career-wise because Waco didn’t have a lot of writing opportunities and we had been here for a long time. We just picked up and left with no job. So we went down there, eventually did a lot of different writing during that time in those years. Writing, editing a lot of different stuff, editing digital magazines, and then got into film. So I’ve been writing for film, writing commercials, and then moved into directing and producing, and that’s what I’ve done the past five years in Austin.
Q: What did you major in at Baylor?
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Waco?
A: No traffic. But really, being from here, there’s such a tight community here. Even people that I knew as a kid are still around, friends that I had in college still live here. The community here just feels a lot tighter to me than other places, and so I think that was important to us coming back from Austin. Another is the traffic. Two hours a day sitting in traffic was killing me. But yeah, knowing people here, knowing people who own businesses and just being able to kind of … network isn’t the right word, but just being able to plug in here, into a community.
Q: What’s your favorite Baylor tradition?
Q: I didn’t run the Baylor Line. I signed up for Baylor really late. I was going to go to Oklahoma and my wife was going to Baylor. We were dating and I realized I was making a huge mistake. We were going to try to do the long distance thing. It wasn’t going to work. So at the last minute I went to Baylor. Because of that, I didn’t do any of the freshman orientation stuff, none of the Baylor Line stuff. So I would say Christmas on Fifth.
Q: Do you have a favorite Baylor athletic team to watch?
A: The football team, mostly.
Q: What are you most excited about as the new editor for The Baylor Line Foundation?
A: It was the Baylor Alumni Association for a while, and then like 10 years ago they got into a lawsuit with the university. It was a huge mess. A lot of people were upset and got fired. We’re kind of on the heels of that, we’re on the other side now: Everyone is ready for something new, so we’re in this rebranding phase, and what’s fun about where I am is that we’re getting to redo the website, do design elements for the magazine, a new logo, new everything. It’s like a rebuild in a lot of ways. It’s a rebuild of a 150-year-old organization, which you don’t get the chance to do that very often. So that’s exciting. Also, I’m a storyteller, so it’s fun to just tell stories and be able to do it in different ways. We’re doing film, which we haven’t done before. That’s my background, so I’m bringing that into it.
Q: How do you plan to incorporate film?
A: We’ve already done a few interviews with people, but we’ll do different stories on people. Like I said, this is my background, so we’ll do interviews on film and we’ll have that online and share them on social.
Q: What prompted the redesigning of the magazine and all of the new changes?
A: Allen, our boss, hired me with the idea that everybody has been ready for changes to come. So they knew bringing me in that changes were going to happen pretty fast. They just kind of turned me loose. Of course I’ve worked with the staff here to have ideas and get approval and stuff. And I’ve worked with a logo company that is doing logo and website.
Q: Do you think the changes will be received well?
A: I think being from here is a big advantage to me because I know the community well and I know what lines you can’t cross. If you want to push and pull and modernize, you can do that well, but you can’t alienate your core audience. Our audience is older. You can make changes and appeal to a new generation but you can’t alienate the people who have been building this for so many years. You’re not going to make everyone happy any time you make changes. But if you don’t do anything, it stays stagnant. So I’m fully prepared for the 10 percent of people who may hate it. If they make a lot of noise I’m fully prepared for that. It’s just how change works.
Q: How do you come up with your story ideas?
A: We’re kid of changing the focus where each issue is going to be built on a single word. This first issue, this word is pioneers, so everything in the magazine fits under that umbrella. It may not be a direct correlation to that word but it can all kind of fall under that. For this issue we did a big story on the Black Alumni Gala. We did a really cool photo shoot with all of the nominees. We’re doing a big spread with all of them, so that’s something that fits. We’re doing a story with international students that fits under that same sort of deal and so everything is unified. That helps me in a lot of ways to know which stories to chase down and which stories to postpone for another issue.
Q: Do you have any longstanding goals as editor?
A: I think one of the primary goals is to grow the organization, to reach younger people, to reach new graduates. Because of the mess the last 10 years, we missed tons of graduates during that time. Even when I graduated, I was never a part of this organization because I didn’t know about it because it was going through lawsuits and stuff. So that’s a huge focus is appealing to new graduates, giving them value, like why they would want to be a part of this organization. Who we are, why we exist, why you should be a part of us, that’s a major goal.