I’ve never written a post like this before, but sometimes certain situations demand it. I think many of us are still coming to terms with the fact that Niche Publisher and all-around stellar human being Bill Thompson III (affectionately known as BT3) has left us, way too soon.
I attended Miami University in Ohio and was 3 years ahead of Bill so we never met way back then. I wish I had. I know my college years would have been a blast!
Bill was a giant in his world, as Publisher of Bird Watcher’s Digest. He has thousands of followers and fans professionally, but also personally. He was the kind of person that touched so many lives, made so many people smile. Always fun and the life of the party, his wicked sense of humor is legend. Yet Bill somehow could also make you feel like you were the only person in the room, giving you his full, undivided attention.
Lucky for all of us, Bill was also a big presence in the Niche Nation. The first thing I remember about Bill was when we had Super Niche in Tempe, AZ about 10 years ago. Our lunch keynote speaker couldn’t make it at the last minute. We weren’t sure what to do. Then Bill volunteered to play during lunch, his guitar at the ready, of course. He was such a renaissance man with so many gifts. And it was the best, most entertaining lunch keynote we’ve ever had.
Bill was a speaker and keynote for us many times at Niche events over the years. He was, (and will always be) a passionate symbol of the consummate Niche Publisher. And even though being a magazine publisher doesn’t necessarily mean the big, big bucks, it’s more about loving something so much you just can’t help yourself–you have to publish your niche magazine!
I also admired Bill’s openness about the challenges of running a family owned publishing business, as many of our readers and attendees can relate. Actually, Bill was open about just about everything, which is why people were always drawn to him. I’m not sure I would have the courage that it takes to live a very public life, which he did. He forever changed the birding world.
He will be greatly missed in the Niche Nation. But I know he would wish us not to be sad, but to embrace our passion for publishing niche magazines. Now, Wendy Clark, Bill’s partner in life, is taking the helm of Bird Watcher’s Digest. We will welcome her with wide open arms and a warm smile, as Bill did with so many of us. He should be an inspiration for us all.
P.S. Hey Bill, if you’re reading this up there, I still owe you that 6-pack of Anchor Steam for the year the Pittsburgh Pirates won more games than the SF Giants!
More about Carl: Carl Landau is Grand Poobah of Niche Media. In his past life, he launched 5 successful niche magazines. He is a media/event guru, SF Giants fan, podcast host and part-time blogger. Carl’s 15 minutes of fame took place in the mid-eighties when he launched his famous, “Buy an Ad, Get a Cat” ad campaign. He has long since patched things up with the SPCA.
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