What he pulled out three years later was a magazine that garnered six National Magazine Award nominations this spring and two wins: one Ellie for fiction and one for general excellence among publications with circulations of less than 100,000.
The University of Virginia's president's office and the VQR advisory board were looking for a change when they hired Mr. Genoways away from the Minnesota Historical Society. What they didn't bargain for was that his redesign and use of color would open up the journal to graphic novels and an editorial shift that would force its nonfiction contributors out of their armchairs and into the playing fields of their topics.
"[Before] the content was much more controversial than the design would have led the average reader to suspect," says Mr. Genoways, 34. "Since the mission of the magazine had always been to serve as a kind of bridge between academic research and discourse and the public, I thought the first thing we could do was make the design reach out in that way."
The result is a product that has not only nearly doubled its subscriptions from 2,500 to 4,500, but that has made the magazine world take notice. Speaking of Mr. Genoways, Hearst Magazines Editorial Talent Director Eliot Kaplan says: "He's very good at taking the essential DNA [of a magazine] and knows when it's proper to mess with that DNA and when not to. He's expanded the realm."
While Mr. Kaplan believes one Ellie win could be a stroke of good luck, he agrees that "six Ellie nominations is not a fluke. We'll see Ted Genoways and VQR up there again."
And while Mr. Genoways is quick not to single himself out as the sole reason for the magazine's success, he's happy that the attention has made others say not just " 'That's a great small magazine' but that's a great magazine. Period."