Who says you can’t go home again?

Rusty Global Brand Manager Peter Townend (P.T.) will leave his current position at the end of May to return to Surfing Magazine, where he’ll become publisher of that magazine, Surfing Girl, Surf Guide, and Bodyboarding.

Throughout the mid 1980s and early 1990s, P.T. served as an advertising executive and the associate publisher of Surfing, Bodyboarding, and Volleyball magazines before becoming Rusty’s marketing director in 1993.

So with Surfer and Surfing experiencing a host of defections to dot-com startups, why is PT bucking the trend and heading back to print media? “I see it as a big opportunity,” he says. “None of them the surf magazines are doing the job that could be done. I’m going to go and make mags for kids and stay focused on that. Print isn’t going away. It’s like the old adage that television would kill radio. Even with the new Internet startups, it’s never going to happen.”

PT knows it’s not the same publishing industry he left seven years ago. “The whole landscape of media has change because of webification of society and now there’s a third powerful player on surf-media landscape. I will simply focus on publishing in the old-school way with modern-day applications.”

PT will report to Bob Mignogna, who has been promoted to vice president and group publisher of the Outdoor Group for McMullen Argus, which includes Surfing, Surfing Girl, Surf Guide, Bodyboarding, and several other McMullen Argus outdoor titles — including Volleyball.

So, looking back at the last seven years, what did Townend’s time at Rusty teach him? “I think the most important thing I learned was about the importance of branding. One of the biggest changes in publishing is that it’s no longer about just what’s on the printed page. It’s about branding the magazine and the entire sport of surfing.”

Bill Holford, Rusty’s director of marketing and advertising, says P.T.’s decision has been “a huge blow” to the brand. “We’re sorry to see P.T. leave.” says Holford. “He added great depth and insight to the brand. But we’re stoked for him. It’s a gain for Surfing magazine. We’re going to miss him a lot.”

“He definitely took the brand to the next level,” continues Holford. “He did a lot of things that were cutting edge at the time. He got Rusty involved in skateboarding before most surf companies got involved. He sponsored Tony Hawk at that time. He also sponsored bands and got involved in the music business before most of the other surf brands did. His are big shoes to fill.”

Holford says the company has no plans right now to fill the position.

P.T. will remain as SIMA president until the next president is elected in July, a situation he says is far from uncommon is SIMA’s history.

¿By Sean O’Brien and John Stouffer.