For over 40 years, onthetown Magazine has promoted the positive aspects of life in Genesee County. Its bimonthly issues feature nonprofits, local charities, local businesses and entertainment events. onthetown Magazine will stay true to its brand by ensuring integrity and professionalism in the pursuit of all endeavors, including all the companies represented. By exploring a range of aesthetics, onthetown Magazine captures the interest of all who browse its pages. be seen…be heard…be onthetown…
Flint’s Legend – In Print
He won’t be mentioned in discussions about our eminent automotive pioneers. Nor will he be mentioned in conversations regarding our local esteemed political figures. But if there was a Citizens of Flint Hall of Fame, Harry C. McVey would be a first ballot, preeminent inductee. As sole founder of onthetown magazine, Flint’s longtime respected and oft imitated social informational publication, Harry was able to express his personal appreciation for the Greater Flint Area through his magazine, featuring its “trademark” center photo spread. As with most entrepreneurs, McVey endured his struggles when he decided to launch a magazine by the people of Flint, for the people of Flint, and about the people of Flint back in the early 1970’s.
Harry C. McVey came to town via his Lansing birthplace in the 1950’s, looking for work as Flint was booming then with all of the General Motors’ factories and automotive-related activity. He got involved in the sales industry, serving as a manufacturer’s representative for a multitude of companies. Friends of Harry recall that his theme for selling was simple: “You’re going to like this (product) and I’m going to tell you why!” Obviously, this profession required extensive travel, and when staying at hotels, he noticed various travel magazines with articles about the respective cities’ upcoming events and restaurant reviews. He also was aware that Genesee County did not have such a product. In casual conversations with many of his Flint business associates and friends, he would point out that the Flint Community had many things to offer such as the Cultural Center, its impressive automotive history and a myriad of interesting eateries. With encouragement and support from prominent business associates such as Arnie Walli (Walli’s Restaurants), Jack Herlich (Herlich Drug Stores), Cass Oypt manager of the Sheraton, and Jerry Rideout (longtime public relations director for Buick), McVey set out to create a publication that showcased the great people and businesses in and around the Greater Flint community – a vision that still exists with onthetown to this day.
Always adhering to his vision of promoting the upbeat aspects of the community, he personally appreciated and supported the local arts scene. This may seem a contradiction of sorts because Harry may have come across a little “gruff” to some people. But for those who did not really know him, it was a challenge to understand his everyday demeanor. In other words, while he must have had a “steely” business presence, he had the deepest heart of gold. A point needs to be made though, that nobody was a finer advocate of the Flint Community than Harry C. McVey. As an example, he highlighted many articles regarding the Flint Cultural Center, including the dedicated leaders such as Paul Torre, Flint Institute of Music’s (FIM) president and spouse Davin Pierson Torre, Flint School of Performing Arts Director, both of whom were featured in cover stories. “He loved the FIM and our programs,” Torre reflects, “and was always looking for an opportunity to talk about us. He was a delight and very fond of what we did for the community. It was a privilege and an honor to know him.”
Sometimes, as with many successful entrepreneurial operations, unforeseeable events occur. There was no exception for onthetown as Harry’s health took a turn for the worse, and then in November of 2002 he passed away. Other McVey family members valiantly tried to keep the magazine going, but dealing with the loss of their patriarch, along with the entire print industry going through some evolutionary changes, as well as facing an ever-increasing competition were things that proved all too overwhelming. Late 2003 saw onthetown Magazine actually move into a hiatus status, but in 2011, as the state and national economy weakened, a local publishing group thought Flint again needed steady doses of encouraging news that onthetown characteristically had spread in years past. As the magazine’s organization continued to adapt to the new local business climate, long time Genesee County residents Dr. C. Patrick Gray and Kimberly Gray of the progressive Global Network Publishers, LLC, took ownership of the operations in January of 2013 and got onthetown back on track to do what it was noted for, all in the spirit of its forefather.
And as Sean D. McVey affectionately looks back on those days, he reminisces about the all-consuming, grind-it-out hard work it took to get the magazine to the people of the community, especially in the start-up stage. He saw onthetown not as a gossip source, per se, but as a very entertaining read where it was just great for people to be seen in a picture on one of its pages. He saw it transform into a rare, shining piece for Genesee County, and although its covers were attractive, readers immediately gravitated to those signature photo spreads. “When you picked up other media publications,” McVey mentions, “there was all kinds of news, but onthetown was always focused on the bright spots and positive aspects of what Flint and Genesee county had to offer. Harry believed if you focus on that, you will make people smile – a message that has never changed.” And according to Kimberly Gray – it never will.
With so many people doing great things around here, the staff of the “new” onthetown Magazine is privileged to be a part of a community of citizens who strive to make Flint, Genesee County and Mid-Michigan a proud place to call home.