After more than 12 years serving as editor of Desert Companion, Andrew Kiraly recently announced his departure from Nevada Public Radio’s award-winning city-regional magazine, effective July 22, 2022.
“It’s been an honor leading a publication dedicated to telling compelling stories about my hometown,” Kiraly said. “Las Vegas is a hella crazy, fascinating, and vibrant city, and my goal with Desert Companion has always been to reflect that crazy vibrance with style, depth, and wit. However, I feel like it’s time for a new chapter.”
Desert Companion was launched in 2007 as a semiannual publication. Andrew Kiraly, along with Art Director Christopher Smith, joined the magazine in 2010 as its first in-house team. The next decade saw a rapid expansion of Desert Companion’s frequency, page count, and staff. As a city magazine with an editorial team of six and a monthly circulation of 50,000, Desert Companion would go on to win dozens of awards and accolades. It has garnered numerous Maggie awards, Nevada Press Association honors, and Folio: Eddie awards for everything from feature writing to cover design to general excellence. Of particular note are its 2018 Folio: Eddie award for “Rescue + Reunion,” Heidi Kyser’s in-depth feature on the heroes and victims of the Oct. 1 mass shooting; a 2017 Maggie award from the Western Publishing Association for Best City and Metropolitan Magazine in its class; and a 2018 Folio: Eddie award for Kim Foster’s “The Meth Lunches,” a story on food and drug addiction that was also nominated for a James Beard Foundation award.
“The accolades we’ve received convince me that whether it’s a long-form profile piece or a photo-driven food feature, magazines are uniquely suited to tell rich, engaging stories in ways that other media cannot,” Kiraly said. “And I feel like Las Vegas has always deserved just that kind of storytelling vehicle.”
Kiraly also helped to conceive or develop many of Desert Companion’s flagship annual issues, such as Best of the City, The Photo Issue, the Fall Culture Guide, and the Restaurant Awards. In 2020, as Desert Companion shifted its publication frequency, he oversaw the launch of Fifth Street, a weekly email newsletter that goes to more than 15,000 subscribers.
During his time as editor, he also served as emcee at signature Desert Companion events such as its annual Best of the City parties, Focus on Nevada photo showcase events, and Restaurant Awards honoree luncheons. Additionally, he helped develop several multimedia storytelling projects such as 2016’s “Our Great Big Nevada Road Trip,” in which Desert Companion spent two weeks traveling the state in an RV, blogging and sending radio dispatches from the road, a project culminating in a special May 2016 print issue; and July 2020’s “Every Voice: Race, Power, and Protest in Las Vegas,” a public Zoom roundtable on racial justice that was also published as a magazine feature.
“Desert Companion is an amazing, world-class city magazine, and in every issue, our readers see the ingredients that make up Andrew’s editorial vision – a uniquely robust print space dedicated to exploring important people and ideas in the arts, culture, and creative communities where we live,” said Nevada Public Radio CEO Mark Vogelzang. “We are sad to see Andrew go, but he’s leaving the magazine in good hands.”
Deputy Editor Heidi Kyser has been named interim editor, effective with the October-November edition. Kyser joined Desert Companion in January 2014 as a staff writer, and was promoted to senior writer and producer in February 2020. In October 2021, she was named deputy editor. Nevada Public Radio will conduct a search for a new editor of the magazine.
As for Kiraly’s next chapter, he plans to take a brief sabbatical before considering future endeavors. “I’ll always cherish my professional accomplishments at Nevada Public Radio, but I’ll also cherish the relationships I’ve built with an incredible team of professionals who are dedicated to great storytelling and passionate about the value of public media.”
Desert Companion fast facts:
• Desert Companion launched in 2007 as a semiannual publication. It grew out of Nevada Public Radio’s annual Southern Nevada Cultural Guide.
• More than 172,000 readers per issue turn to Desert Companion for award-winning journalism, design, and photography.
• Desert Companion is a benefit of Nevada Public Radio membership through mailed home-delivery, and is also available to the Southern Nevada community through a distribution network of more than 1,600 locations including libraries, coffee shops, automotive dealers, and restaurants.
• Since its inception, Desert Companion has received community corporate support from more than 700 businesses.
• Desert Companion’s signature events built around flagship features such as Best of the City, The Photo Issue, Top Doctors, and the Restaurant Awards recognize Southern Nevada individuals and organizations that contribute to the cultural fabric of our community.
• Desert Companion has garnered dozens of awards for journalism, photography, and design, including numerous Maggie awards, Nevada Press Association honors, and Folio: Eddie awards.
• Our mission statement: “Desert Companion is the premier city magazine that celebrates the pursuits, passions and aspirations of Southern Nevadans. With award-winning lifestyle journalism and design, Desert Companion does more than inform and entertain. We spark dialogue, engage people and define the spirit of the Las Vegas Valley.”