Eric Obenauf, the publisher and editor-in-chief of Two Dollar Radio, the indie press headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, wants the seven-year-old company to publish more nonfiction, but he doesn’t want to produce more than the five or six titles—primarily fiction—that the publisher currently releases each year. His solution, beginning this fall, is to launch Frequencies, a 100-page biannual journal that will be dedicated to nonfiction. Frequencies, like Two Dollar Radio’s books, is being distributed by Consortium and retails for $10 per issue. The first issue, just released, has an 1,800-copy print run.
“It was a way to expand without expanding,” Obenauf told PW, explaining that he and his three colleagues at Two Dollar Radio believe that if they increased their output, the releases would encroach upon each other’s publication buzz, the quality of the books would decline, and the company’s “passion for the project” would also drop. Frequencies, Obenauf said, “aims to champion artful or creative nonfiction that aggressively asserts the value of the individual in today’s world” through essays and interviews.
Obenauf said that when he and editor Eliza Jane Wood incorporated Two Dollar Radio in 2005, they called the company Two Dollar Radio Movement, because they’d always envisioned expanding beyond fiction, as well as beyond books. “Frequencies is the first baby step toward branching out into other arenas,” he said, disclosing that the company may also produce micro-budget films in the near future.
The first issue of Frequencies includes three essays: one, by Joshua Cohen, on the origins of the phrase “Open Sesame”; one, by Blake Butler, on the mental disintegration of the mind; and the third, by Tracy Rose Keaton, on consumer culture. The issue also features an interview with Canadian poet and essayist Anne Carson, photographs by Morgan Kendall, and an excerpt from Scott McClanahan’s forthcoming memoir, Crapalachia: A Biography of a Place, which will be published by Two Dollar Radio in March 2013.
“It’s definitely incestuous between the journal and the books we’re publishing,” Obenauf said, explaining that the writers published in Frequencies will be a mix of authors whose books have been or will be published by Two Dollar Radio and others without an affiliation with the press. Cover art and interior artwork is being produced by in-house artist John Gagliano, whose clients include Warner Music Group, BlackBook magazine, and the clothing line Unruly Heir.
Frequencies will not include advertising, except for “fake ads for a fake business,” Riley & Sons, LLC General Store and Mill. The vintage ads “add character and are amusing,” Obenauf said, comparing them to the specialized product placements on the Colbert Report. The company is considering soliciting sponsors for future issues, with retro-looking ads for such sponsors.
The second issue of Frequencies will be printed in April 2013. It will include essays on Thailand’s gay sex tourist trade by Alexander Jung and issues of belonging in middle-class black America by Roxane Gay.