Ruralite magazine reaches more than 320,000 homes monthly through 47 zoned editions covering Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, California and Montana. Currents magazine—which is published in January, March, May, July, September and November—covers Arizona and reaches nearly 16,000 additional readers. KIUC Currents, which is published February, April, June, August, October and December, blankets the island of Kauai. Edited for a family-oriented readership, Ruralite and Currents magazines focus on activities and issues affecting Western readers. Regional places and personalities, food, outdoor activities, kids and the undiscovered treasures of the West are presented in each issue.
Ruralite is published 12 times a year; Currents is published six times a year. KIUC Currents is customized specifically for Kauai. Each member-utility receives a custom version of the magazine, enabling them to use the magazine to communicate with their members about important issues and promote programs specific to their utility.
In the early 1950s, managers at rural electric cooperatives in the Northwest faced a dilemma: How could they provide the information their member-owners needed to make sound decisions about their cooperatives, yet do so in a cost-effective manner?
They found the solution in the cooperative spirit: pooling their resources.
In 1954, Oregon co-ops had only about 30,000 members.
Recognizing their numbers were too few for individual magazines, Idaho and Washington co-ops said they would join with Oregon if the publication would serve them, too.
A committee worked five years to launch a publication for rural electric cooperatives in the Northwest, turning to Hank Alderman—a former newspaperman and Bonneville Power Administration employee—for help.
The forerunner of Ruralite magazine, “Northwest Rural Electric News,” was first published in June of 1954. About a dozen electric systems with an estimated 20,000 consumers subscribed to the eight-page tabloid.
In the first issue, Alderman explained the purpose of the paper “will be to keep you informed of cooperative matters, of the newer and better ways to use your electric power supply, and to enable you to participate more fully as individuals in the universal assumption of responsibility which we all have for keeping our region, our neighbors and ourselves supplied with low-cost electric energy.”
It is the same mission Ruralite magazine serves today.
When the operation broke even the first year, the Oregon association surrendered its ownership of the paper to a new, nonprofit association it helped form: Ruralite Services.
Six months after its birth, the publication became known as “Northwest Ruralite.” In mid-1973, the magazine—then a 32-page publication—became known simply as “Ruralite.”
Once limited to two colors, it now features full-color photography and design.
Utilities in Alaska, California and Nevada joined the Ruralite family. In 1998, the Arizona statewide association and several of its members decided to work with Ruralite Services to produce a satellite publication, Currents magazine.
In late 2011, Ruralite launched Florida Currents magazine to help several Florida electric cooperatives educate and empower residents of the Sunshine State.
Ruralite is designed to be flexible. Each utility can use a cover photo provided by Ruralite, or one of its own choosing. The back page is available for utilities to communicate important messages to their members.
Six inside pages are available for each utility’s use. Some use two of those pages to feature a member with an interesting story, job or hobby. The other four pages may be used to explain special programs the utility is offering, update consumers on local happenings or announce upcoming meetings.
The remaining 24 pages are the same in all editions. In those “common” pages, readers are given information about electrical safety, conservation, and new products or ways of doing things. They also are kept up-to-date on developments in the power industry.
Several articles each month focus on the interesting people, places and events in Ruralite territory. Among the regular features are Side Roads, In the Kitchen, At Home, Rural Mailbox, Marketplace and Parting Shot.
Kauai Island Utility Cooperative in Hawaii also works with Ruralite Services to produce a custom magazine.
By cooperating with one another, utilities have made Ruralite the solution to keeping members informed, connected to their utility and each other, and entertained.