The Rapidian Home

On the Record: Marty Primeau

Underwriting support from:
Marty Primeau

Marty Primeau

 A Q&A with the managing editor of Grand Rapids Magazine and Grand Rapids Family

This periodic feature for The Rapidian will spotlight the media personality behind the byline, camera or mic.  
You may have seen Marty Primeau’s name as managing editor on the mastheads of Grand Rapids Magazine and Grand Rapids Family. Or you may have read her byline in both publications,\ or heard her weekly City Beat interview on the WGVU Morning Show. 
Her days are full – much busier than she anticipated when she and her husband first arrived in West Michigan three years ago. The couple relocated to Grand Rapids for her husband’s job with Meijer. Marty, a journalist, had plans to retire. Instead, she started some freelance work, which ultimately led to a position with Gemini Publications a year and a half ago. 
Marty began as managing editor of Grand Rapids Family and a short time later added the role of managing editor of Grand Rapids Magazine to her responsibilities.
She has always had a passion for writing. The Royal Oak native started school at the University of Michigan and later transferred to the University of Texas at Austin to take advantage of its renowned journalism program. Following graduation, she launched her writing career at some small newspapers in the Texas Hill Country. She then landed at the Dallas Morning News for nearly eight years. 
 Marty, her husband and their two children moved to Amarillo for 10 years before coming to Grand Rapids. Her son and daughter now attend college in San Diego and Dallas, respectively. 
Recently, she took time out of her busy schedule to go on the record.  
What attracted you to West Michigan?
We were living in Amarillo with our two children, who are both finishing up college right now. We decided we were ready for a change of pace, so we looked all over the country. I still have a lot of family in Michigan. My husband was offered a job with Meijer in the corporate office, so we decided to come here. 
I had never been to Grand Rapids before - there really is that east-west thing. When I was younger, we would spend summers up north but we never came west. 
What surprised you about West Michigan? 
The quality of life. I wasn't sure what to expect. When we were looking at different cities, I'd plug in different places [online] just to get an idea of the lifestyle. None of these places were coming up for Grand Rapids in my search. Thankfully, my husband encouraged me to just check it out and see. 
We love the art community here. It's such a creative area. The food is fabulous. There's so much going on. Yet you don't have to deal with all the big city traffic. It's a very easy place. It’s just a really nice combination of things. This is such a great area to live. 
What do you like best about working in the media?
Getting to experience so many different types of things. You learn about a city so quickly. If your job is to seek out what's going on and who's doing what, that really gives you a quick education about what's happening in an area.  
You are just exposed to so many new things every day, and that is really exciting. 
What is the biggest challenge working in the media?
Time management. I thought being a monthly magazine – because I had been in daily newspapers for so long – that it wouldn't be hard, but it really is. I work with both publications, columnists, interns, freelance writers and do my own writing. Everyone has a different style and you have to be able to adapt to that.
But it's a really nice balance. I enjoy the variety. It's really nice to be able to do some writing and edit what other people do. It’s really a great job.
The other challenge is working on things two months ahead of time. Right now, I'm working on the April issue. That's just a constant challenge. We can't compete with the dailies or anything on the Internet. So, it's being able to figure out what's going to be current and still interesting in two months. And thinking ahead seasonally, too. We may be in the dead of winter, but I need to be thinking about gardening and spring. So it's that challenge that every magazine faces.
What were some of the most memorable stories you’ve covered? 
While I was at the Dallas Morning News I wrote for a section called “High Profile.” It was a Sunday section that profiled prominent Texans. At that time, it was kind of the heydays in Dallas. In the early '80s there was so much going on and there was a lot of money in Texas. It was pretty much a whole section devoted to the high end in Dallas.
The profiles were fascinating. There were so many. Our profiles were really in-depth – we would definitely immerse ourselves in their life. We would go to their homes and follow them on business, talk to their family and friends and people who worked with them. 
Barbara Bush was fascinating simply because of the access and to be on the other side was really intriguing. I spent several days with her at the White House, at a state dinner and in Boston, where she gave a speech for the Humane Society. 
Steve Miller was a lot of fun. He had grown up in Dallas and was flying in for a concert. We had gotten permission to do a profile on him. The publicist said he was only going to give me about 15 minutes at his convenience. 
So I was at home one night in my PJs and the phone rings at 10 p.m. It was Steve Miller’s publicist calling. They had just gotten to Dallas. He was at the Mansion on Turtle Creek and he was ready for an interview, “so, could I just head over there?”
I went to the hotel and was there until 4 a.m. interviewing him and the band. Once you got going with someone, you usually found they were more accessible. 
It was a great experience. 
What are three things many people don’t know about you? 
I marched with my daughter in the 2004 March for Women’s Lives in Washington D.C.; I was a demo artist for All Night Media rubber stamp company; and I crave Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts (the original, unfrosted ones).
If you could trade places with any other person for a week -- famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be?
My mother. When my kids were younger, I’d get flashbacks to my childhood (a real Leave it to Beaver upbringing with two loving parents and three older sisters). I think it would be fascinating to experience those memories from her perspective. My mom was a really neat person, always gutsy and willing to tackle anything. 
If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? 
Travel writer.
What book is on your nightstand? What’s on your playlist? What’s the last movie you saw?
I just started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson;  Avatar in I-Max 3-D; new on my playlist is a song written by the late comedian Bill Hicks (my brother-in-law) and recorded by Ralston Bowles. It’s fabulous. 
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see play your role?
My son insists it would have to be Sally Field; I’d vote for Eva Longoria  (I can dream, right?).
If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money? After donating to children’s charities and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, I’d make sure my kids were set for life. Then I’d take my husband of 29 years on a leisurely trip around the world (and buy him a Ferrari, his dream car).

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.


I absolutely love that Marty highlights how quickly you learn a city by their media! In college, I really connected with the town when I worked for the town paper in a way that I never did during three years of attending school. One of the best pieces of advice I've ever received was from my professore, who said the best way to learn a place quickly is to tune in to the media, and I learned a lot about Italy during my whirlwind summer there.

Bill Hicks is her brother in law?!?!?!

 yes ... are you a fan?

Yeah, I'm a huge fan. I take it you're related through another Texan?

My husband, Steve, is Bill's older brother. We're going to Austin next month for South by Southwest to see a documentary about Bill by two British filmmakers.

I think these media profiles are a great turnabout.