Jeff R. Lonto tells it like it was. His latest book, "Chronicles from the Analog Age—Random Slices of Life, Culture and Media from the Old Millennium" bares this out as he covers a wide range of quirky topics on North American popular culture in the era he calls the Analog Age—roughly the 1920s through the 1980s—in a unique and compelling manner. He has a style of writing that paints a picture that the reader can step in to. He can take a seemingly dull topic and make it interesting by exploring the human side of it.
History has always been his forte, from his first book, "Fiasco At 1280—The Rise and Hard Fall of a Twin Cities Radio Station" in 1998, tracking the inside story of a small AM radio station from its beginning to its (then apparent) demise, and his second, "Legend of the Brewery—A Brief History of the Minneapolis Brewing Heritage," also published in 1998, chronicling a near century of history of a great regional brewer.
With media history one of his specialties, he wrote a series of articles for the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting in Minnesota in the 1990s and 2000s, which were compiled in his 2007 book, "It Happened On The Air—Amusing Stories of Twin Cities Radio-TV History."
His first published article, an overview of Minneapolis TV history, was published in the September 1985 issue of a small newspaper called the Hornet, courtesy of his friend, the late Darrell Mulroy.
He wrote articles on beer and brewery history for publications such as Beer Cans & Brewery Collectibles and Suds, Wine & Spirits, and in 2002 he made two appearances on Minnesota Public Radio discussing the topic. And when August Schell Brewing Company of New Ulm, Minnesota took over the brewing and marketing of Grain Belt beer, they "tapped in" to Jeff Lonto's knowledge of the brand's history for their website.
In addition, an excerpt from "Chronicles from the Analog Age," a chapter titled "The Fatal Glass of Beer," was published in Canada in 2010, as a two-part feature in the Winnipeg-based brewery collectibles magazine, Paw Prints. Lonto was also credited for his help in the publication of a radio industry book titled "Ain't Misbehavin' Just Conclavin'", published by Billboard Radio Monitor.
But beer and broadcasting aren't the only topics he writes about. Trading stamps, colorful bits of paper they used to give out at stores and gas stations, had fascinated him since he was a little kid, and when he grew up he researched the whole history and put it all together in an online essay called "The Trading Stamp Story," initially published in 2000 on a now defunct website. The essay was referenced in articles in the New York Times and Newsday as well as other places, and it was later revised and posted on the Studio Z-7 Publishing website Other essays written by Jeff Lonto are posted on that site as well, providing information on a variety of pop culture topics.
He also writes quirky short stories—some say they are even more entertaining than his fact-based articles and essays—which he is looking for the right forum to publish them.
Jeff Lonto founded Studio Z-7 Publishing in 1997 primarily as an outlet for his own creativity, but in 2010 he published his first new author, Savannah Leyde and her book, "My Brother…He's an Angel," a publication completely different in topic and style than anything he'd ever do, thus expanding the scope of his business.
His philosophy as a writer is that you can't be a good writer without being a good reader, so in his spare time he does lots of reading. Along with periodicals such as the Atlantic and the New Yorker, he enjoys books on history, and old magazines, especially the vintage ads, which provide a real window into the culture of a particular period of time. He enjoys "living in the past." He would much rather read a Time magazine from 50, 60 or 70 years ago than a recent one. For that matter, he can sit for hours watching DVDs of vintage commercials (his TV viewing habits what they are) but can't sit two seconds through most current commercials, he finds them so repelling.
Jeff R. Lonto lives in Minneapolis with a feline friend.