7 questions for Charlotte magazine editor Michael Graff

This week’s Came, Loved, Stayed set its sights on a top contender within the local media sphere: Michael Graff. The soft-spoken 35-year-old became the editor of Charlotte magazine in early 2013.

Graff grew up in Maryland before attending High Point University for English and writing in 1997.  Since then, Graff has worked in several newspapers and magazines, amassing 14 awards pertinent to his journalism career.

In 2013, High Point University named Graff Young Alumni of the Year.

How did he end up in Charlotte? Let’s ask him.

(1) What brought you here?

Well, work, like a lot of people that come here. I started my career in newspapers and worked in newspapers around North Carolina — worked at The Telegram in Rocky Mount and then at the Fayetteville Observer for four years. Then went to Our State magazine in Greensboro. When this opportunity came (at Charlotte magazine), I came here, in early 2013. 

(2) What made you stay?

I like that I can go to see a Broadway-caliber play one night, then see Ben Folds with the symphony the next night, and then maybe have a beer with bikers at the Thirsty Beaver the next night. There’s just such a range of things to do here. … 

I’ve been here almost three years. Some days I feel like I’m an expert in the city, other days I feel like I know almost nothing. It’s the second part that keeps me here.

mike at pinehurst

(3) What was your first impression of Charlotte?

I came down here in springtime and it was a perfect Charlotte spring morning. It was 80 degrees, sunny, the dogwoods were blooming, the azaleas were blooming, everything was blooming. … I just knew that this was going to be a warm place.

(4) What’s your favorite aspect of Charlotte culture?

My favorite aspect of Charlotte culture is the diversity. The amount of music it brings — I’m a big music fan, and there’s nobody that I’ve wanted to see who hasn’t come through here that I think of. Anybody who tours here nationally are going to be here. …

If you’re bored in Charlotte, that says more about you than it does about Charlotte. 

(5) Why would you (or wouldn’t you) recommend Charlotte to friends?

I do recommend it, actually. I have a friend in northern Virginia who came down to visit last fall and I remember telling him before he came down — he asked me a bunch of questions about what to do, where to go, and I closed the email with, “Warning, you will want to move here.” 

(6) What’s next for you?

What’s next for me is continuing to try to make the best magazine we could possibly make. Try to have people use it as a resource for  living here and as a way to see the city in a different way than they would have if they hadn’t read the magazine.

(7) Describe Charlotte in one word.

Crossroads. It was built as a crossroads, and it always seems to be at a crossroads, trying to figure out how much of the past it wants to keep and how much of the future it wants to run to.  

Photos by Whitebox Weddings, Travis Dove, Geoff Wood and Charlotte Magazine.

Madysan Foltz
Madysan Foltz MadysanFoltz