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1 well-worn leotard

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The cover headline blares "Coming On Strong! The fitness craze stretches to West End Richmond." A smiling woman, looking very stylish -- for 1982 -- is propped on one elbow, hip to the floor, left leg raised, toes pointed. She is wearing a striped leotard.

Aerobics!

This will always be our first issue. And we love it.

This is where it had finally come together: the ideas, the sweat, the late nights and the relentless search for startup advertising money. Style was a monthly magazine, as founder Lorna Wyckoff wrote in her first letter from the publisher, "for our small, homogeneous group of West End families, businesses and friends."

Wyckoff, who had recently moved to Richmond from Washington, D.C., had felt frustrated by the absence of a single, simple way to find out what was going on around town. And what about restaurants? Lifestyles? Hats?

Page 5, Best of the West: Hats. "Use them to make a statement," Style advised, "battle the elements or simply look smart."

After researching the market and gathering a staff, Wyckoff put together the first issue of Style on her kitchen table. She printed 20,000 copies. The magazine, purposely, was not the angry, alternative-weekly attack-dog found in most cities. It was nice. Helpful. Friendly and focused.

Page 9, Conserves: Serving With Great Relish. "Conserves make terrific gifts when packaged in jars affixed with colorful gingham squares."

It was factual. Educational. Family-oriented.

Page 12, The Children's Corner: Stars. "A lot of falling stars are the size of marbles."

It knew its target audience.

Page 14, ShopTalk: New shops. "Just Because adds a touch of Rodeo Drive to Grove and Libbie."

And at its heart was an extensive events calendar and the feeling that a conversation was going on between newspaper and reader. Style found its place, grew and about two years later, in September 1984, was sold to the private media company Landmark Communications, publisher of the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.

Since that first issue, Style has evolved. It has spun off specialty publications in business, home and family genres. It has developed a stronghold in coverage of Richmond arts and culture. It has fortified its news coverage with unflinching reporters. It has made mistakes. It has listened. It has told the true and untold stories of Richmond. It has consistently won accolades from the Virginia Press Association -- most recently, the statewide sweepstakes award for the contest years 2001, 1999 and 1997 as the highest-ranking nondaily paper in its class.

Some critics of Style will look at our first issue and laugh. They will say nothing has changed. We prefer to hold onto Wyckoff's words from that issue:

"For this venture to succeed, we believe it must become like a splendid old recipe handed down through generations, lovingly tasted, adjusted and allowed to simmer long and low. We aim to take our time with this publication and do it right, and we hope we can count on our readers to guide and support us in the coming months."

And in the next 20 years.

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