StromHR Celebrates Its 10th Birthday
It seems hardly possible that it was 10 years ago that The Hearing Review was first published from a little office in Duluth, Minn. The magazine’s introduction to hearing care professionals came in January 1994, and the cover featured a younger couple, with the man wearing a multi-colored Beltone hearing aid, wrapping his arms around the woman in a loving embrace. However, this warm snugly cover belied a not-so-warm and cuddly time in the industry. Frankly, it was an inauspicious moment to start a hearing health care magazine; hearing aid sales were plummeting, advertising dollars were scarce, and tempers were flaring. The first dispensing professionals that I ever met were a virtual who’s-who of industry experts from all the various disciplines—all attending, and many testifying in, the December 6, 1993, Rockville, Md, FDA Public Hearing about proposed changes to the so-called Hearing Aid Rule. You could have cut the tension and hard feelings with a knife. I remember going back to my hotel room after a dinner with then editorial-director Marjorie Skafte thinking, “Are things always like this?” Luckily, the answer was “no,” and in all these years, I have yet to encounter a time in which people’s nerve endings were so thinly exposed. Ten years later, the proposed FDA regulations and the hoopla that it generated are largely behind us (at least for now), even if some of the acrimony and a number of the same issues linger.

But, if those FDA hearings accomplished anything (in fact, their main accomplishment was to depress the market further), it was to show that the people who work in this field care very strongly about what they do. While one is always entitled to their own opinions about various issues, what I quickly learned was that the hearing care field is largely populated with dedicated, good people who truly believe in what they do for a living. They are committed, they are honest, and they are interested in doing what they believe is right. And the reason many of them are so adamant about certain issues is because they want what’s best for their patients. They are making a difference.

Likewise, the authors, contributors, and commentators for HR throughout the years have made a profound difference in this field. I have the greatest admiration for the amount of time and effort that contributors to HR (and to other publications, as well) sacrifice in order to share their knowledge with their peers. Sharing this knowledge is a singularly unselfish gift to the profession—and it is almost always done on the authors’ own time, with little glory, and no remuneration. Some of these authors I’ve worked with continually over the past decade while others I’ve worked with only once or twice; however, all of them have the HR staff’s greatest respect and thanks.

Oddly enough, an article that HR published in that first January 1994 issue, entitled “Why Some Hearing Aids Don’t Work Well,” centered on four factors in hearing aid performance: low distortion, wide bandwidth, proper frequency response, and appropriate AGC. The article was written by Mead Killion, PhD, who HR has recently invited to write a series of articles on hearing aid performance issues—the first of which appears in this 10th anniversary issue. So history does repeat itself.

One of the defining features of HR, in my view, is the amount of quality feedback that we enjoy from our readers, authors, and clinicians and researchers in the hearing care field. Additionally, this magazine been blessed with an abundance of internal administrative, sales, art/production, and editorial talent throughout the years, along with a terrific editorial advisory board and fantastic support by our advertisers—those companies that are directly responsible for bringing this magazine to your door each month. It’s my hope that, in the next 10 years, HR will retain these relationships and attributes, and continue to help those dedicated professionals who are committed to helping people who suffer from hearing loss.

Karl Strom