Automoblog is a consumer-focused website that helps readers understand more about cars and driving. AutoVision News, by contrast, supports those working on Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Most of our readers, be it from an engineering or a marketing background, are working on new technologies that will lead to fully-automated vehicles, intelligent cities, and more.
In addition to overseeing our editorial direction and content strategy, I spend a lot of my day working and talking with the people associated with our publications. That includes our creative director, writers, industry and content partners, numerous marketing and PR professionals, and readers. Working with people is what I enjoy most about being an editor. It’s where the real business of being a respected publication happens.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
Anything related to autonomous driving is on my radar, no pun intended! What is fascinating is how certain sensor technologies are reaching beyond automotive. LiDAR is a perfect example. We are seeing numerous industrial applications for LiDAR in addition to rail and logistics. LiDAR can also increase fuel economy and reduce driver fatigue, making it an essential technology for the trucking industry.
As autonomous technology succeeds in other industries and verticals, it can validate everyday car buyers as they consider a new model with the latest ADAS technologies. If a particular technology is proven elsewhere, like in trucking or aerospace, it will resonate with car buyers. Along this same line of thinking is consumer education. It’s absolutely essential and why both our publications support the work organizations like the National Safety Council, PAVE, AAA, Consumer Reports, and the SAE are doing with the “Clearing the Confusion” campaign.
Self-driving technology represents a fundamental shift in thinking at almost every level. In automotive, engineers and product developers are moving toward software-defined architectures versus mechanical ones. Urban planners are considering new infrastructure initiatives within governments and municipalities to better accommodate vehicles and pedestrians. Dealerships are leveraging online business models that redefine the customer experience in automotive retail.
In so many words, the automotive industry is changing rapidly before our very eyes. The advent of autonomous technology is just one of the many factors responsible for this.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
In September, NAIAS organizers did an excellent job with Motor Bella at the M1 Concourse. Nothing can replace the magnificent stage that NAIAS is for our industry, and it is still my all-time favorite auto show. However, Motor Bella was an incredible experience nonetheless, and it came along at precisely the right time.
Our creative director Alex Hartman joined me for the press days at Motor Bella. We shot a ton of on-site footage for our social media channels that our readers and followers really enjoyed. We later complied all of our off-road adventures into an article on Automoblog.
At the M1 Concourse, Motor Bella organizers had enough room for both Camp Jeep and Bronco Mountain. Camp Jeep will usually encompass a 24,000-square-foot exhibit space, with 260 cubic yards of dirt, 120 tons of boulders, and the infamous Jeep Mountain with 35-degree approach and departure angles. The Bronco Mountain experience – in addition to the giant climb upward – includes a water fording demonstration, a twist test section, and a deep sand drive.
And don’t even get me started on the Ram TRX dirt track! Our driver, who took us through the course, let all 702 horses of the 6.2 supercharged Hemi rip! With Baja mode engaged and that five-link coil suspension underneath, you can really feel how Ram’s off-road driving algorithms maximize the TRX’s 2.64:1 low-range gear ratio.
So without a doubt, Motor Bella was the craziest, most fun thing I have been a part of lately. I hope the NAIAS organizers do it again!
What story or stories are you most proud of?
We recently completed the Live With AEye: Virtual CES 2022 webcast. The two-day series featured interviews with industry experts on the topics of ADAS and autonomy, along with virtual demonstrations of AEye’s CES Innovation award-winning 4Sight LiDAR. Together with AEye, we completed an exceptional series of thought-leadership content that is now archived across all of AEye’s social media channels.
I am always most proud when our team succeeds together with industry partners like AEye. I am most proud of our collective story together as Automoblog and AutoVision News. These recent CES broadcasts with AEye were such a great chapter to add to our ongoing story.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
Early on in my career, as a young sales consultant at Sioux Falls Ford, I was taught how the car business is not really the car business but the people business. And as an editor, I am always searching for the people behind the cars.
For example, I had the opportunity to tell the story of Kelly Suntrup Stumpe, aka The Car Mom. Her vehicle reviews are unique in how they focus specifically on helping working women and moms make the right choice even before they go to the dealership. Stumpe is also an inspiration for women who aspire to an automotive career.
Similarly, I had the opportunity to meet a young automotive technician named Jose Campos. If you go through the Campos family photo album, young Jose is holding a toy car in nearly every picture. He started turning wrenches with his grandfather as a child, and the experience profoundly affected him. To date, Campos has completed 80 I-CAR courses, passed 26 ASE tests, and currently holds 26 ASE certifications.
I believe people like Stumpe and Campos are the future of the automotive business. We need more like them at every level of the industry, and I hope to continue to tell their stories when I can.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
I started in commercial radio in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2006 at the mighty KEZO, which meant I played a lot of fantastic rock records between the hourly weather and traffic reports! I did more traditional news, weather, sports, and farm reporting during my time in AM radio at KJAN.
I began writing for 605 Magazine in early 2010 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I did that for a fair number of years, covering the local music scene and any big national acts making a tour stop in town. Hinder, Pop Evil, Rehab, and Motion City Soundtrack are awesome bands. They were all very kind to me when I was writing for 605 Magazine and could barely put two interview questions together. Paul Stanley of Kiss is also very kind. He told me a few stories about the late Eric Carr, my all-time favorite member of Kiss.
I eventually wrote freelance for Music Connection Magazine in Van Nuys, California. During this chapter of my life, I worked at KELO-FM in Sioux Falls and Sioux Falls Ford, the latter being my first introduction to the car business.
Automoblog came along in 2014 and AutoVision News in early 2020. That’s where I spend the majority of my time now. Music and cars; I suppose that sums up my journalism career!
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …
Trying to mentor our team and help them go beyond what they think they can achieve. If I am not creating content, I am concentrated on this. I am continually focused on keeping our team together and working towards a common goal. It’s one of the things that keeps me up at night. The people I work with are constantly on my mind.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
If you make a concentrated effort to try and understand Automoblog and AutoVision News, and if you send me a personal message as opposed to something pre-formatted that’s blasted out to everybody else, I most likely will respond. I am looking for a long-term relationship with you as a PR pro because we can truly create good content once that relationship is established. That is far more preferable to me versus a one-off e-mail pitching a one-off announcement.
Any pet peeves with PR people?
I’m not a huge fan of accepting a connection on LinkedIn and then instantly receiving a message. Marketing, sales, and PR representatives have a habit of doing this. It’s okay, I understand, and I will probably respond, but it’s not my favorite method of communication. Before messaging me, take some time to see what I post and get to know our publications.
My bigger pet peeve is with fellow automotive journalists who try the “gotcha” type questions. I’ve been in a number of meetings where representatives from a given automaker have invited the media to see something like a new vehicle release. These representatives, be it from marketing or product development, give a presentation and open the floor to questions. Most questions are insightful and helpful, but there is always one journalist in every group who has to show how smart they are. I find them mildly annoying at best and incredibly unprofessional at worst.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, some fact about you that few people know, etc.)
Although I am a rocker, I really enjoy jazz music. While I work, I always have Watercolors (Sirius XM 66) on in my office. Jazz is simultaneously red hot and cool blue, and I absolutely love it.
I don’t go out much, but my ideal Saturday would be spent walking the Detroit Zoo with a warm cup of coffee. I fancy myself an amateur herpetologist, but all animals at our wonderful zoo are special and have a unique story. After the zoo, it’s grabbing something to eat at one of my favorite places in Dearborn, followed by a trip to the arcade. Since I grew up in the 1990s, I always have my game card on me. They don’t do tokens or tickets anymore like back in the day, so I have everything stored on this cool membership card. You just swipe and play. It’s pretty neat.
I don’t own a car, even though I work in automotive. I’ve never purchased anything online, despite growing up in the dot.com era. It would shock you if I told you all the popular blockbuster movies I haven’t seen. And no matter what, I will always be a Detroit Lions fan.
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