By Diesel Knudson
RV Life Magazine was born in June of 1984 in a most unlikely location on the west wall of Fisherman’s Terminal in Ballard, Washington. Fisherman’s Terminal is where I was working for the Fisherman’s News, a commercial fishing publication. The boats of all of Alaska’s crab fishermen as well as every other conceivable commercial vessel were tied up in front of my office. Ballard is called Little Norway for a very good reason.
This is also the very place I was tagged with the nickname Diesel. I didn’t care for it at first, but grew to accept it and eventually liked it. After all, who could forget Diesel? The fishing industry was in a serious recession at the time and our small publishing company needed another revenue stream to survive or we were “going down with the ship.”
Let’s back up to 1972 for a minute. I had purchased a 1966 Clark Cortez so I could travel around to fairs and swap meets to sell different products. It paid my bills and it was an exciting way to travel around the West for a 23-year old. Then in 1974 I bought a 1957 26-foot Airstream travel trailer to live in full time for a couple more years. It was a palace compared to the 19-foot Cortez. From there I went on to a camper for my young family, graduating to a Class C motorhome.
So with my background in motorhomes and RVing, I threw caution to the wind and launched RV Life Magazine out of thin air. The first two years were really tough. No one wanted to take a chance on advertising with a fledgling publication. I would often hear, “Come back next year, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll try it.” Had it not been for a couple of young guys like myself, I don’t think RV Life would have survived. I’d like to mention them for it was Ron Blair of Baydo’s RV in Tacoma and Bruce Reed of Camper’s Paradise in Seattle who helped give me the strength to persevere. Camper’s Paradise is no longer in business, but Bruce Reed and I are lifelong friends. Ron Blair now owns his own dealership, Blair’s I-5 RVs in Rochester, Washington, and still supports RV Life, and remains one of my best friends today.
Since the beginning of RV Life, I have seen hundreds of innovations in the RV industry—wide bodies, slideouts and full basements for storage, just to mention a few. In fact, RV Life ran the first ad for a motorhome slideout by Newmar Corporation. They were ahead of their time.
The ups and downs of the last 28 years have been a roller coaster ride like no other. The Gulf War of 1991 set the RV industry back on its heels, but it slowly came back stronger than ever. After 9/11, the RV industry and RV Life Magazine soared to new heights. Then $4 a gallon for gas and the beginning of the Great Recession brought down a dozen manufacturers in the RV industry and hundreds of RV dealers who didn’t weather the hurricane of the declining economy. As a result, there were a number of RV publications that did not survive the devastating fallout. I’m happy to say that RV Life is still here.
I want to thank my lovely wife, Toni, who has spent the last five years reinventing RV Life Magazine, and I’m proud of what’s been accomplished. So now, having turned 62 years old, I am officially retiring as publisher of RV Life so I can spend more time doing all the things I love—RVing, skiing, biking and anything else outdoors. I pass the torch on to Toni and I fully expect RV Life Magazine to reach new heights under her direction as publisher.
Thank you to everyone who has supported RV Life over the last 28 years. The RV lifestyle lives on!
By Toni Knudson
Thank you, Diesel, for showing me the ropes of the publishing business from the inside out over the last 10 years. What a fascinating business it is! I will strive to keep the fire of RV Life burning brighter than ever.
To switch gears a little bit, I want to take this opportunity to thank the people who are the most instrumental in the production of RV Life Magazine, both in print and online, every single month, year after year. Our editor, Mike Ward, has been working his special magic at RV Life for eight years, after an illustrious 23-year career as a reporter at the fast-moving Los Angeles Times. He masterminds our editorial content with a sharp pencil.
With RV Life for six years, James Taylor is our graphics design artist and webmaster, and takes care of everything at rvlife.com. Our website has never been more interesting, thanks to James. He also puts the countless pieces of the magazine together every month from start to finish without fail.
And because RV Life is a free magazine, we wouldn’t be anything without our advertising sales staff. With me on our team is Joni Smith of Phoenix, Arizona, who has been on the front line selling ads for almost two years.
But the most appreciation goes to Kristin Boag, our director of sales and marketing. Kristin is the heart and soul of RV Life Magazine. She has been the engine driving RV Life for more than 15 years. Kristin loves the RV industry, as everyone who knows her will agree. We are so very fortunate to have Kristin in our corner at RV Life. She’s a real go-getter!
I have a special thank you that goes to our printer, Eagle Web Press in Salem, Oregon, for helping us take RV Life to the next level of print publications. The magazine has never looked better! And thank you, Wayne Taylor, for helping get RV Life out on the streets locally each month.
To all of our advertisers and, most of all, to our readers, thank you for your continued support and loyalty to RV Life Magazine over these many years. We will carry on the legacy that Diesel is leaving with the goal of making RV Life the most interesting, informative and fun magazine in the RV industry.