Shot Callers: Dennis Page, CEO, SLAM Media

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Since 1994, SLAM has combined coverage of the worlds of basketball and hip hop with steadily increasing success. Now a multimedia company, SLAM continues to cover this intersection of sports and culture in new and inventive ways.

FOS Editor Ian Thomas sits down with Dennis Page of SLAM to discuss the origins of the magazine, the brand’s resurgence in the last two to three years, and what’s on the horizon.

Edited highlights appear below:

On the early days of SLAM (0:53)

Page: “The idea of launching a hip hop basketball magazine had never been done. There were a few other hip hop publications. The Source, Vibe was out for a couple issues and just took that inspiration and just attached it to basketball cause I’m a sick high school basketball fan and just always have a lot of publishing ideas and just put it on the newsstand. It hit from day one and it’s just one of those things that was a success out of the box.”

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On SLAM expanding into merchandise (3:49)

Page: “I call myself the oldest Hypebeast in America. I’m very attuned to that. When I bought [SLAM] back, wanted not only to get young in high school but to finally sell a SLAM hoodie and a Slam T. We created our original SLAM box hoodie. Went out, bought I think a hundred orange hoodies off Amazon, slap the logo on it, opened up a Shopify store that afternoon, put ’em up online, sold the hundred probably in two days. Then we were off and running. Simultaneously, we signed a deal with Mitchell & Ness to license the SLAM covers for t-shirts and hoodies. So that was about a year ago that contract was done. We had put out six SLAM cover t’s with Mitchell & Ness…It’s for sale on MitchellandNess.com, it’s in the SLAM store and also sold at retail. Urban Outfitters, Pac Sun and their various retail outlets…It’s doing phenomenal.”

On expanding coverage of women’s basketball (6:05)

Page: “I had the idea about a year ago to launch what became our Instagram channel WSLAM. I was really on the fence with it. Then once I saw the WNBA sort of rebranding and really kind of getting their act together, I figured the timing is better now. So with their relaunch, we’ll start doing more women’s covers on the magazine. There will be women’s merch…We’re working on a deal with, a WNBA licensee to do SLAM women’s covers, cover t’s. So that’s going to happen and we’re all in on women’s. We have a full time editor doing it and original content around girls from a fashion perspective and what they’re wearing to games. So it’s just like, regular SLAM, but for women.”

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On what’s next for the brand (7:27)
Page: “I think events. We have a draft suite. We just did our eighth year of it which started out as a gifting suite… and now it’s become more of a content opportunity. We still give them SLAM gear and stuff like that, but we really capture content and brought on AT&T as our title sponsor, which is a big deal. So we had AT&T, Stance, Bose, [and Levi’s]… So Levi’s did custom jackets for all the NBA rookies that came through…And then last August we did our first high school all-star game up at Dyckman Park mid August and our second year is coming up this August and we’ll have 20 of the top high school players in the country playing outdoors.”