What started as a summer project for an aspiring high school writer is now celebrating its 15th anniversary!
Created by teens for teens, OUTLOUD planted its roots as a free monthly newspaper at 100 Miami-Dade and Broward county schools, giving South Florida teens something they never had before: a media outlet that would make their voices heard.
Throughout its 15 years, OUTLOUD has covered everything from buying meth on aisle 5 to 9/11 to the hottest concerts. OUTLOUD also trumped Viacom in a copyright battle in 2005 and may have saved a baby! Many late nights were spent making sure the newspapers were ready for print, coming up with ideas for a television show, and entertaining our audience with a little radio and podcasts.
On this 15th anniversary, OUTLOUD would like to thank its publisher, Judy Lefton, for being a visionary and getting our voices heard. We have had the opportunity to work with many bright minds, some of which have gone on to Animal Planet and ESPN while others have created apps and published books.
Here is what some of our past OUTLOUDERS have to say…
Erin Keene McGrogan
OUTLOUD changed my life! Fresh out of college, back in 2000, Judy took me under her wing. It was my first job in the real world, I was overly excited to be appointed graphic designer for the startup company OUTLOUD, the first and only outlet for young adults in South Florida.
Together with the OUTLOUD crew, we learned everything from offset printing, marketing, distribution and meeting tight deadlines. There were a lot of late nights, but it was a thrilling journey that I am proud to have been a part of. Although my full time position ended in 2005 when I moved to Palm Beach County, I remained a part of the team offsite; helping to produce print issues, writing articles and most recently, assisting with the new website.
Throughout the years, Judy has remained a very dear friend and lifelong mentor for me. She has been there every step of the way, not only in business but at my wedding and birth of my two daughters. She is like family to me and I am ever so grateful to have met her.
Great OUTLOUD Memories:
There are too many! But some of my favorites are:
The free concerts =) Thanks to OUTLOUD I was front row at Smashing Pumpkins, face to face with my (at the time) crush Billy Corgan.
Walking around Coconut Grove and South Beach, distributing newspapers and soliciting for advertising. New Age Piercing promised to take out an ad if I got my belly button pierced, which I did, for free! 2 babies later I still have the scar to prove it!
Taping OUTLOUD TV with my best friend Kelly, overcoming my fear of being on camera and learning all about the video world.
Learning the ins and outs of print production, layout and most of all Photoshop. Invaluable knowledge I have used throughout my career as Art Director for a travel company and Creative Director of one of the top internet marketing companies in South Florida.
Most of all, the amazing friendships I made: Cristina Jaramillo, Margarett Wolf (Yuhico), Leah Pritchett, Megan Ondizek, Raf and Adriana Sangiovanni to name a few…
2004 – 2008
At first I was a freelance writer and then I had two columns, “Scrambled” and “Worth Your .99 Cents.”
In high school I wrote a column called “The 5 Types of People You’ll Meet At The Gym” and years later I went to a new gym and lo and behold, there on the wall was a laminated copy of my article!
I am now happily married to a partner at a law firm and I work from home as the Director of Marketing for MetArt. I’m currently writing my first book, which will be a memoir/essay style book. I would never have had the courage to write if it wasn’t for Outloud giving me my very first platform!
Judy, you have no idea how much you helped me develop my voice from a young age. I still have issues of Outloud saved in my library and I truly wouldn’t be where I am today without your guidance and patience. You have no idea how important it is to make teenagers and young adults feel like their voice matters…and you truly give young adults a chance for their voices to be heard.
I’m sorry for all the deadlines I missed! I truly apologize. Also, If anyone wants to see what I’m up to today please follow me on Instagram @iamsloanesteel
2001 – 2012
What didn’t I do?! Intern (2001), Writer (2001-2004), Director of Advertising/Managing Editor (2001-2004), Senior Editor (2006-2012)
Memorable moments: Outloud JAM sessions. Delirious late nights working with Erin Keene (graphic designer) to meet our monthly print deadlines. Filming the first segment of Outloud TV.
I’m currently a copywriter for Unique Vacations, Inc. the worldwide representative for Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts.
Throughout my experience at Outloud, I had the opportunity to wear several hats and juggle a variety of responsibilities. I learned that titles don’t mean a thing when you work as a team, because everyone is an equal. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes to reach that common goal even if it’s not on your job description–only then will you be successful. This teaching is part of my work ethic and has shaped me into the professional I am today.
Judy, thank you for sustaining the creative platform that has allowed so many of us to launch our writing careers. It personally provided me with unforgettable real life work experience. You’re a tough cookie as a boss and you certainly pushed me like no one had before. But in turn, you taught me to always demand more of myself and reach higher. As you once told me: great writers never fall in love with their writing, they simply love to write 😉 I think about that every time I edit my work. Thank you, xo!
Congratulations to OUTLOUD on this special anniversary and hi-fives to all the current and past Outloud writers and contributors. Each and every one of you has shaped Outloud along the way.
Adriana Jaramillo (now Sangiovanni)
2001 – 2005
The first time I met other OutLouders was during a summer trip to Miami Beach where we passed out cigarette questionnaires. I remember it rained on us and we ran, screaming and laughing until we found shelter in a Burger King. We were sixteen, eager to make friends, and starting something new together—cracking up in the rain was an awesome perk.
I contributed with articles, conducted surveys and I was a newspaper delivery girl! I distributed OutLoud copies around Coconut Grove, Coral Gables and South Miami.
After Outloud, I sought a degree in English literature and secondary education. I graduated from the University of Miami and obtained my state teaching certificate. I went on to teach high school for five years where I sponsored the National English Honor Society and had the privilege of instilling a love for writing in young scholars. Now I’m the curriculum specialist at a nonprofit that promotes literacy. OutLoud solidified my budding passion for writing and helped me come out of my shell. It gave me a voice.
Hiiiiiiii JUDY! We look back on those years with so much fondness! Thank you for giving us wonderful memories to cherish!
2000 – 2008
Most memorable moment? Without a doubt, it had to be the time I offered myself up for a makeover. It was meant as a joke story, but we had a lot of fun dressing up, wearing wigs and crazy outfits. Look through the archives for “Rasz” and prepare yourself for a mix of amusement and horror.
I started off at OutLoud as a part-time writer before becoming a staff editor while in college. Now I’m a digital and social media producer for a major PR firm in South Florida. I always say that OutLoud was instrumental in instilling within me the value of teamwork. It was also the first avenue I had where I could channel my creative aspirations for writing and photography, both of which I use on a regular basis at my current job.
Judy, thank you for everything you’ve done to inspire and empower young adults in South Florida. Keep up the excellent work!
From all of us at OUTLOUD, past and present, happy anniversary!!