James Maguire

JamesMaguire.com – the web site of James “Jamie” Maguire

I’m a journalist and author whose pen travels far and wide. Here’s an Op-Ed I wrote for The Wall Street Journal; a cover story for The San Francisco Chronicle; an investigative piece for Wired; an on-scene report for the Washington Monthly. I’ve written about the National Spelling Bee, the birth of TV, pop divas, the John Lennon bot, and scads of other stuff.

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I’m the Senior Managing Editor of Datamation, America’s first computer magazine, founded in 1957. I oversee a team of writers and reporters covering the tech sector. I’ve written copiously about technology, including a 5,000 word overview of cloud computing and a humorous piece about the iPhone. I’ve interviewed legions of tech executives and analysts, like IBM’s Jeff Jonas and HP’s Christian Verstraete. I also moderate panel discussions about emerging tech. The intersection of media and technology is fascinating; this confluence is changing our world faster than you can say “there’s an app for that.”

With three other writers, in 2013 I won the PRSA Award for Excellence in Technology Journalism.     Analytics Week lists me as one of the Top 200 Thought Leaders in Big Data. I have a Master’s Degree in Interactive Communications, focusing on the Internet; I’ve been a dedicated student of the Web since the mid 1990s.

I’ve authored two narrative nonfiction books, Impresario: The Life and Times of Ed Sullivan (published by Billboard Books) and American Bee: The National Spelling Bee and the Culture of Word Nerds (published by Rodale).


jamesmaguire-sullivanFor the Sullivan biography I interviewed scores of performers, including the vaudevillian Paul Winchell, The Doors’ Ray Manzarek, and comics Joan Rivers and George Carlin. Aided by Sullivan’s personal papers and cooperation from his family, I wrote the book as a cultural narrative of America in the mid century. The New York Times called the book “impressive…a page turner.”

 

jamesmaguire-beeFor my book about the National Spelling Bee I traveled all over the country, profiling five young spellers (11 to 13 years old) as they prepped for the annual Bee in Washington, D.C. I described the hopes and fears of these bright talents, and the quirky but wonderful culture of the Bee. The book’s high point is the big spell-off in the nation’s capitol, as these virtuosic orthographers go toe-to-toe before a huge TV audience — and their nerves are stretched taut. Publisher’s Weekly found my portraits of the spellers to be “amusing, occasionally touching and always impressive”

 

I was a music critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and two other publications, reviewing rock and jazz. When I started as a reviewer, I visited all the senior critics and asked them how they formed their opinions; none of them had a substantive answer. Critics, like the rest of us, make it up as they go along.

In a prior career I was an audio engineer, mixing sound for radio and TV commercials. I was twice nominated for a regional Emmy for Excellence in Audio production. It was an interesting job and a stressful one, balancing clients, budgets, deadlines, creativity and technology. I once worked on a project for two days straight, then my clients played the almost-finished version for the home office in Oklahoma. The verdict: the lead announcer “sounds gay.” We had to re-do the whole thing. Oy vey. Opinions; everyone has them.

While working as an audio engineer, I wrote (or co-wrote) two books about sound technology, TechTV’s Secrets of the Digital Studio and SAM’s Teach Yourself E-Music.

My audio career grew out of my love for music. My first college degree is a Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition. My instrument is piano. In addition to writing semi-classical modern/improvisatory stuff, I composed, arranged and produced an album of my own music, Take The Power, mostly pop, with rock-jazz and a touch of rap.

I’ve written and performed two one-man shows, Vibrating White Light and Making Candy. Both pieces are serio-comic explorations of identity and spirituality (whatever that means). I performed Vibrating White Light at the Orthwein Theater in St. Louis, and two other theater groups later presented it. I performed Making Candy at the St. Marcus Theater in St. Louis. I did both shows while I was working as an audio engineer. After all the hours of rehearsal and organizing, I realized: Hey, if I just focused on writing, I could earn my living as a writer instead of an audio engineer. That realization began my career switch.

In sum, the dude abides. I enjoy a dry Pinot Grigio, bright sunshine, the echo of a distant train whistle, the cooing of babies, gatherings of friends over dinner. And I adore good writing. Oh I live to read and to write. I’ve been a read-aholic since I was a very young boy; books have been my spaceships to a zillion worlds. For me, the English language is a sacrament, and the ultimate form of music. I love the sound of it, the deep lyricism of the language, inside my inner ear or spoken out through the air. “…yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.” Damn, that’s righteous.

But enough about me. What about you? Feel free to drop me line.

James Maguire