My Mentor: Dominic Smith on David Hepworth

'He could just sense what was going on and dilute it on to the magazine's pages'

I joined Emap Metro in the mid-Nineties, when it had all the entertainment magazines like Q, Empire and Smash Hits, and the four key editorial players in the business: Dave Hepworth, Mark Ellen, Danny Kelly and Barry McIlheney. They were all big characters, but Dave was the biggest. He was visible outside of magazines, as he had shows on GLR radio and VH1.

I was editing Big, a sister title to Smash Hits featuring good-looking Aussie soap stars. By 1997, I had reached a point where I wanted to do something a little more adult, and, when I approached Barry, he said Dave was working on a new project and would I be interested in launching it with him?

It was intended to be a unisex title, to be bought by men as they wandered around the supermarket, and then read by their wives and girlfriends, and that's the title that became Heat.

We sat in a room for nine or 10 months knocking around ideas. Watching him invent a magazine, section by section, was a fantastic learning curve. He was also an endless source of industry tales. Dave would entertain me with his legendary rants about Jo Whiley or VIP areas in clubs, or he would ridicule me about the endless stream of mediocre indie bands I liked.

What impressed me was the way he could just sense culture and what was going on, and dilute it on to the pages of the magazine. He was forward-thinking, a true early-adopter.

He was the first person I knew to own an iPod and would talk about the internet and how it was going to change how everyone worked before it seemed at all likely.

I think of spending that time with him as like an aspiring football manager being given the chance to work with Alex Ferguson – I couldn't fail to pick up an awful lot along the way.

Dominic Smith is the editor of 'Nuts' magazine. David Hepworth co-founded Development Hell, which publishes 'The Word' and 'Mixmag'

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