Student-produced magazine highlights Wisconsin's traditions

December 8th 2015
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Curb-cover-2015Tradition is dynamic. Rituals change with the times. History is constantly being updated, upgraded and sometimes forgotten. All across Wisconsin, people are living and breathing the state motto, "Forward." But they also don't forget to look back, and in this way, they create something that is uniquely Wisconsin.

This is the driving philosophy of this year's Curb magazine, "Backroads & Boulevards," a 64-page publication produced by 21 students in the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Over the course of the semester, these students have spent countless hours researching, interviewing, writing, editing, designing and fundraising for the magazine, a capstone project for these seniors.

"There's really nothing else like this at the university," says editor Andy Stoiber. "No class or project I'm aware of is as ambitious or as professional. It's been a completely different sort of learning environment that has been incredibly empowering and successful."

The 2015 edition of Curb launched Monday. This year, stories highlight contemporary perspectives on Wisconsin traditions. Among its many topics, the magazine explores supper clubs, small-town football and an urban cheese factory.

"These students are deeply connected to Wisconsin and its customs, and they set out to explore how these customs are changing and evolving," says instructor Stacy Forster. "In this year's Curb, they show readers a state that is always recreating itself. I'm incredibly proud of the work they've produced."

The class functions like a professional publication, and each year produces a professional-quality magazine. Students are split into editorial, business, design and online teams based on their interests and strengths.

"The 21 students in this class, along with Stacy Forster, have dedicated ourselves to making Curb a high-quality publication," says managing editor Sabina Badola. "It was such a good learning experience. As we worked towards its production, I oftentimes forgot we were receiving a class grade."

Every aspect of the magazine was completed by students, from funding to production. Curb staff raised more than $11,000 through advertising and apparel sales, as well as generous donations from alumni, family and friends. For the sixth year, Royle Printing of Sun Prairie donated half of the cost of printing. Students produced feature-length articles for print and the Web, in addition to multimedia content available exclusively at These story forms include audio slideshows, maps and infographics.

The magazine has a legacy of success, having received numerous awards through the years. In 2012 and 2014, Curb was named the best student magazine in the country by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Curb staff sent the magazine to about 10,000 UW-Madison alumni throughout Wisconsin. The magazine is also available online and for download from the iTunes store.

Story by Tyler Dedrick for University Communications