Fans and boosters of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks soon will have access to a variety of print and digital publications focused on the activities of the Gamecock Club and the University's student athletes offered under a five-year agreement with Aiken Communications, Inc.
The Gamecock Club was seeking to modernize communications with its membership. The new offerings will include a tabloid newspaper, slick magazines, online features and tablet and mobile apps that will be tied closely to social media. Gamecock Club members at the Century giving level and above will receive the print publications as part of the membership in the Club, and all members will have access to the subscription-only digital products. Fans who are not members of the Gamecock Club can subscribe to all of the offerings for $49.99 per year.
After a bid process, Aiken Communications Inc., replaced Gamecock Associates as the publisher of Spurs and Feathers, which was lead under editor Dexter Hudson.
Aiken Communications Inc., publishes the Aiken Standard and The Star of North Augusta. It also operates a commercial printing venture and a division called TootSuite Communications that focuses on traditional and digital marketing services. Aiken Communications Inc., is a subsidiary of Evening Post Publishing, LLC., publisher of the The Post and Courier of Charleston.
“We are very pleased with the confidence the Gamecock Club is showing in us,” said Scott Hunter, president of Aiken Communications Inc., “The is a very exciting time for the USC and Gamecock sports. We are proud to partner with them on these key products. We have already developed a very strong staff, and they can't wait to get started.”
The new Spurs and Feathers will be the official one-stop destination for all Gamecock fans. The newspaper will be published 25 times during the athletic year and give Gamecock fans an insight into Gamecock athletics and the inner workings of the athletic department at USC. The digital editions will be updated daily and be a source for real-time news about the University's athletic programs.
Aiken Communications, Inc., executive Tim O'Briant will serve as general manager of Spurs and Feathers. A South Carolina native, O'Briant currently is the general manager of the marketing agency TootSuite Communications, where he oversees the development of new strategies and products for Aiken Communications, Inc., and its clients. O'Briant also leads the company's television and streaming video efforts under the name of ASTV, which operates a leased access cable channel in the Aiken market. He has been a reporter, editor and advertising executive for 25 years at various newspapers around the state, most recently serving as managing editor and later as executive editor of the Aiken Standard. He joined the company in 2000.
Former USC Aiken Assistant Athletic Director Brian Hand will serve as executive editor of Spurs and Feathers. A lifelong Gamecock fan who is the son of two South Carolina graduates, Hand began his career working at the The Greenville News as a sports clerk before moving on to work with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds and the Southern Conference league office. Hand then served as the Director of Sports Information and Game Operations at Presbyterian College before spending almost five years as the assistant athletic director for communications and promotions at USC Aiken.
“As someone who has been attending South Carolina games since before I can remember, this is truly a tremendous opportunity,” Hand said. “To be able to work with the USC and Aiken Communications Inc., is truly an honor, and I am thrilled that I was lucky enough to be chosen for this endeavor.”
Hand will be joined at Spurs and Feathers by Mike Kucharski, who will serve as a reporter. Kucharski spent the past year as the assistant sports information director at USC Aiken.
A recent graduate of USC Aiken, Kucharski also worked with the student newspaper, The Pacer Times, serving as both staff writer and special editor for the Hallman Retirement Edition, which was released on April 18, 2012.
This past spring, Kucharski received the USCA Ernestine B. Law Communications Student of the Year award and the Hallman Values Award. During his senior year at USCA, Kucarski received the prestigious Scott B. Hunter Scholarship for journalism students. Kucharski is engaged to Katie Sutter, and the couple will be getting married in October.
“This is an exciting time to be joining the Gamecock family, and I am truly appreciative of the opportunity to work with the great staff at Aiken Communications Inc.,” Kucharski said. “It will be a privilege to be involved with an athletic program that I have followed closely since I was a child.”
Kathy Boyette is heading advertising sales efforts. Boyette grew up in North Augusta and is a graduate of the University of South Carolina where she earned a B.A. in journalism with a major in advertising/public relations in 1989. That same year, she began her career at the Aiken Standard as an advertising account executive until 1996. From 1996-2006, Boyette worked for AAA Vacations as a travel agent, and then later as branch manager. In 2006, she returned to the Aiken Standard as an advertising sales manager, working with a team of account executives specializing in local retail and real estate accounts. Boyette and her husband, John, live in Aiken.
Potential advertisers may contact Boyette at 803-644-2349.
To subscribe, call the Aiken Standard at 803-648-2311.