The story of the Insider magazine is first and foremost the story of Colman W. “Connie” Hechter and involves a progression of publications.
THE T.M.C. INSIDER
The T.M.C. (for Trestman Music Center) Insider began on or about November 1966, edited by Connie Hechter. It was a trade sheet for the burgeoning teenage musicians in the Twin Cities (one estimate was that there were 4,000 of them). “The Blue Musical Voice of the Midwest,” it had news about the local groups, ads for Trestman and band instruments, and featured an instructional column called “Drummers’ Beat.” Connie acted as publisher, editor, and reporter, with Trestman Music Center acting as a sponsor.
The June 19 and June 26, 1967, issues had no editors listed.
Then, until the end of its run, Timothy D. Kehr edited the T.M.C. Insider. The last issue that we know of is dated December 18, 1967.
On July 22, 1967, Hechter became independent of Trestman and began to produce his own publication, called Connie’s Insider. In addition to features on artists, concert and album reviews it was also a trade magazine for musicians, with reviews of new equipment, musician want ads, profiles of studios and booking agencies, ads by instrument manufacturers and booking agents, and directories of local bands, clubs, A&R men, and more. The magazine was specifically for and about the people of Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin and the Dakotas, although it heavily featured the action in the Twin Cities. As with the T.M.C. Insider, each issue would open with a friendly “Hi Gang,”
Connie’s Insider tended to be fraught with hints of things that didn’t materialize, typos, and other less-than-professional aspects, but it was a goldmine of information about what was happening in the music industry in the Twin Cities. Add to that the photos of staff photographer Mike Barich, and there was just no equal in terms of sources of information about this classic era of ’60s and ’70s rock ‘n’ roll.
As time went on the eight-page newsletter grew into a full-fledged magazine. The last issue of Connie’s Insider was Volume IV, No. 6: July 24 to August 29, 1971.
In September 1971 the name was changed again to The Insider, a decision made by new editor Tom Murtha. As both distribution and content grew, Connie brought in a growing staff to tackle the added responsibilities. Connie’s roots at the University of Minnesota played an important role in this search as future editors like Peter Dwyer, photographers like Judy Olausen, Mike Barich, Jeff DeBevec, and others were all alums.
The Insider began to move away from being just a music magazine, focusing on issues such as race relations and the War in Vietnam.
Connie died suddenly of a heart attack in Los Angeles at the age of 42 on January 23, 1978. The family sold the Insider and the last issue appeared in May/June 1978.
On December 1, 1978, a new publication was started with the intention of continuing the Insider tradition. Hechter’s widow was involved. Unfortunately, only five issues of Musician’s Insider were produced, the last dated May 1979. The magazine did sponsor the Connie Hechter Awards, unique to 1979, in April of that year. See Awards for information about that event. Copies of the Musician’s Insider are available on microfilm at the Minnesota Historical Society.