Interview with Allan Sko, Publisher at BMA
Allan Sko is the Publisher, Print and Web Advertising Manager, and Managing Director of BMA (Bands Music Action) Magazine and a former student at the University of Canberra.
In 2003, at the age of 22 and straight out of university, Sko was thrust into the position of editor at BMA and never looked back. He has interviewed people ranging from writer Chuck Palahniuk to comedian Dave Anthony.
The magazine has been around for over 24 years and is Canberra’s only entertainment street press, covering touring artists, DJs, movies, theatre, and all things art related. Its feature articles have covered Hilltop Hoods, James Blunt, Deep Purple, Wolfmother, Silverchair, and many many others.
‘How did you become the publisher at BMA?’
‘I was completing a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing at the University of Canberra. The then course convenor, the wonderful Jen Webb, in the opening lecture, said: “if you want to be a writer, then for god’s sake, write.” And a number of avenues were offered, one of which being BMA. Being the type of student I was, I got in touch, and started writing, wrote a number of articles and reviews for BMA over the course of the three years I was at university.
After I finished the degree, the then editor, Tracy Heffernen, was moving on to oversee the Shellharbour Times in Kiama, the then publishers asked if there was anyone on the writing staff that she would consider as replacement. And she was incredibly kind enough to suggest myself. So, at the age of 22 I became editor. I was the editor for four years and started getting a bit of a mind for the business acumen of it. So I started taking over a bit of the advertising side of things, and not long after that, I became the publisher.’
‘Was it quite intimidating, that first day or year as editor of BMA? Suddenly, you have responsibilities?’
‘Every single aspect of every single role I have undertaken at BMA caused manic terror in the first day at least, and in other cases, for the first couple of months. I nearly quit BMA as the editor. I came on board in August of 2003. It was my dream job, it was everything I could ever hope for. It’s writing, it’s overseeing a magazine. It’s engaging with musicians and artists. It’s everything I could have hoped for.
But it was so much work.
So, yes. Terrified. Takes time, but fear is your body’s way of letting you know you’re learning something new.’
‘You mentioned you studied at UC. Have the skills you learnt there helped you in your role?’
‘Absolutely. And I would say, mainly, I can attribute that to the wonderful tutors, teachers, and lecturers I was fortunate enough to have at the time. And, also my wonderful fellow university goes, colleagues, and now, dear friends who were able to provide feedback for a lot of the stuff. Jan Webb, Maureen Bettle, Felicity Packard, Ewan Bowen, Craig Cormick. These wonderful talented people gave me such amazing feedback onto my creative work. And, really invigorated a sense of “this is what I want to do”. I know that pursuing a path of art and creativity is a dangerous thing to do as far as wanting to acquire financial security and being able to have a house and raise a family, and I’d always planned for that. But, it let me know that this is what I wanted to do. And, as far as within the actual content of what I learnt, there was plenty there. But the most valuable aspect, asset, experience, whichever word you wish to use, were my teachers, and my colleagues, and I am incredibly grateful for my time there.’
If you’re looking to pick up BMA’s most recent issue, it shouldn’t be too hard to find. The magazine is distributed to over 400 locations in the ACT and surrounding NSW. It can be found on campuses, at cafes, pubs, nightclubs, and more.
Each issue can also be viewed and downloaded online.