Meet a Staffer: Gary Whitaker

Meet a Staffer Every month, we introduce you to one of the people who work on 417 Magazine. This month, meet Gary Whitaker.

Sep 2013

How long have you been working here?
Ever since we wrote the check 12 and a half years ago.

Describe what you do at work day-to-day.
My time is largely spent standing in awe and amazement at the magazines our staff produces. Occasionally I recommend new projects to further burden the staff. I’m looking for their breaking point.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever had to do for this job?
My favorite thing every year is to gather all the people whose names have appeared on The List and explain to them why they were on The List and why they were invited to the annual party. They all seem to appreciate having the mystery finally solved.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever had to do for this job?
For the September 2011 “Great Dates” cover story, I posed with cucumber slices on my eyes, while wearing a bath robe pretending to be preparing for a couples massage at a spa. I never got the massage.

What’s your favorite thing to do in 417-land?
Right now it is paddling my kayak off the shores of Table Rock Lake with my 2-year-old grandson Dutch Whitaker on my lap. He’s enthralled by the water, fish and trees. I’m enthralled by him.

What’s your favorite piece of magazine lingo?
“The proof.” It’s shorthand for the advance copy of the magazine that is scoured for mistakes. But I like to think of it as evidence of everyone’s hard work.
What’s your favorite thing to eat that you can only find in 417-land?
I’ve eaten sushi in lots of exotic places. None of them match Haruno.

If there were a movie about your life in 417-land, what would its title be?
Some, including my banker, would say it should be Psycho for buying a magazine in the first place. But It’s a Wonderful Life is closer to the truth. What better way to make a living than searching for great things to do where you live, then sharing those discoveries with readers?

What celebrity would you most like to have coffee and conversation with?
Bob Dylan or Paul McCartney. I’m a frustrated musician and songwriter, and since those two guys shaped much of my musical tastes, I’d just like to thank them and pick up the tab.

Do you have a nickname in the office?
Five years ago I jokingly told my kids, Associate Publisher Logan Aguirre and Audience Development Director Dylan Whitaker, that I wanted their kids (my grandkids) to refer to me as “Mr. Whitaker.” Granddaughter Lucy Aguirre truncated that to “Wicker” when she was an infant. It stuck.

What do you do in your free time?
Travel. My wife Joan and I work so we can roam. And as we hand off more of the day-to-day duties to our talented staff, our wanderlust increases. We have a white board in our house with a countdown to our next trip.