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Great Gig, Big Stage

Vintage Guitar OwnersAbout 25,000 copies of Vintage Guitar magazine are printed and distributed all over the world each month. Established in 1986, the subscription-based publication features the companies that build vintage guitars and artists who play them as well as information on new gear, up-and-coming artists and recordings. This impressive and far-reaching magazine is based in Bismarck and run by a hardworking team of only nine full-time staff members. One-third of them have something interesting in common – they graduated from BSC.

Doug Yellow Bird, a ’92 alumnus, started out as the creative director in 1997 and is now the general manager. “I went through the commercial art program at BSC and am a guitar player. I never thought I’d get a gig where the two matched.” He added that it’s especially fortunate considering only five guitar magazines are in print in the country.

Since he now spends his days at a computer doing everything from designing layouts to handling the magazine’s social media efforts, Yellow Bird said he was impressed with and is grateful for the forward-thinking of his BSC professors. “It was the dawn of computers with those little Mac Classics. They were on it.”

While Rachel Handeland was still a student at BSC, she interned at Vintage Guitar. She moved into the role of online coordinator after she graduated in 2015. She entirely attributes her ability to exceed at her job to her time at BSC. “Without them, I wouldn’t know anything to do with this job. The people I met there really helped me get this job.” After earning her associate degree in graphic design, Handeland spent a year and a half taking web design courses at BSC. “The web design program with the HTML coding has helped me as a big percentage of my day involves coding.”

Joan Trygg, ’99 alumna, worked at BSC before she started at the magazine in 2017. After getting her associate in arts degree, she earned a bachelor’s in business administration from Minot State on BSC’s campus through their night program and then a master’s of science in business management online from Minot State. “My second year at BSC, I was working full-time and going to school. It teaches you how to manage your time with everything you need to get done.” As Vintage Guitar’s brand manager, she handles advertising and sales. She also works directly with artists or their publicists. “There are lots of big names, so it’s pretty exciting.”

Yellow Bird agreed that one of the perks of the job are the artists he’s met, such as Zakk Wylde, the guys from Buckcherry, Joe Walsh, Greg Martin and The Kentucky HeadHunters. He says the artists he’s met don’t let fame go to their heads. “They’re all down to earth; I haven’t met any ‘rock stars’ yet.”

Trygg feels the same way about the artists. “I was really impressed when REO Speedwagon was in town, and Dave Amato took the time to show us all his equipment when we did an interview with him. They’re so happy to be included in our magazine,” she says.

Vintage Guitar not only employs several BSC alumni, the staff has collaborated with the college’s graphic design program in the past. Yellow Bird said they would have students design layouts. He would then choose the best one to actually use in the magazine. In addition, Sean Thorenson, BSC associate professor of Graphic Design and Communications, illustrates the art used in the Reader Mail section of the publication each month.

For more on Vintage Guitar magazine, visit