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News & Notes



December: This Month in Sun History

The most important December in Sun history is, well, this one: the month in which Sy Safransky, after fifty years of laboring to put out the magazine he founded, steps away from his desk and becomes, deservingly, editor emeritus.

December 1, 2023

November: This Month in Sun History

Forty-four years ago this month, we offered a special holiday rate on gift subscriptions. That was the first time, and it’s a tradition we’ve continued every year since. The announcement of that original offer in 1979 described The Sun as “the ideal gift for friends who’d share your enthusiasm for a totally independent journal, a forum for those who lead lives of intensity and impact” — a description that, happily, has remained true.

November 1, 2023

October: This Month in Sun History

In October 1974 The Sun, still in its infancy and called The Chapel Hill Sun, reached a milestone. Its sixth issue featured a visual element that has defined its look for nearly fifty years: a black-and-white photograph.

October 1, 2023

A Brief and Highly Subjective Appreciation of Fifty Years of Sun Covers

One history that especially fascinates me is The Sun’s. On the wall of my office is a calendar the magazine sent to subscribers — all forty or so of them — at the beginning of 1977. It’s outdated and nonfunctional, but I hung it there because of its . . . well, grooviness. I like the horoscope-adjacent artwork and the handmade feel. It’s very much a product of its time, the kind of thing my brother would call “crunchy.”

By Derek Askey, Associate Editor • September 5, 2023

September: This Month in Sun History

On a quiet Friday afternoon in the summer of 2007, the phone rang in The Sun’s office. It was someone calling on behalf of a man on death row to inform us of a glaring error in an upcoming issue.

September 1, 2023

August: This Month in Sun History

The Sun’s first-ever website launched in August 1999, into a world of staticky dial-up tones, GeoCities, and frequent buffering. It came about thanks to the generosity of two Sun subscribers. . . . Shelley Sherman and Meredith Tupper took it upon themselves to build a modest, stately website that perhaps undersold the magazine: “If you haven’t heard of The Sun,” the About page read, “you’re not alone.”

August 1, 2023

June: This Month in Sun History

By 1990 Sun founder and editor Sy Safransky was pleased with how the magazine had grown — more than ten thousand readers now subscribed — but a decision he’d made at its inception in 1974 nagged at him: to carry advertisements in The Sun. After several meetings with the magazine’s business manager, and then several more, Sy finally decided to stop selling ads. June 1990 was the first ad-free issue.

June 1, 2023

May: This Month in Sun History

Asking for help is often difficult, and can be doubly so when the person you’re asking is an idol of yours — someone you’d claim “has done for religion what the Beatles did for music.”. . . At the tail end of the 1970s the number of Sun subscribers hovered somewhere south of a thousand, and the magazine was in dire financial straits. . . . The ultimate result, on a warm night in May 1980, was a benefit lecture that Ram Dass gave in a large hall with no air-conditioning on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

May 1, 2023

April: This Month in Sun History

By the time The Sun’s number of subscribers had grown to ten thousand, its number of employees had grown, too — enough that the magazine’s charming but shabby office in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, “still fits us, but just barely, like a rumpled sweater with too many holes,” as founder and editor Sy Safransky put it. So in April 1989 The Sun bought a new property, right around the corner at 107 North Roberson Street.

April 1, 2023

March Recommended Reading

Take a trip through our archive and read about The Sun’s psychedelic origin story, our readers’ drug experiences from 1979, and Poe Ballantine’s metaphorical meadow that is guarded by an evil troll.

March 21, 2023
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