Surfer-run website goes beyond talk of gnarly waves, big airs

Surfer-run website goes beyond talk of gnarly waves, big airs
From left, Korduroy TV’s James Campbell, Reis Paluso and Dan Llano. Korduroy TV is on the forefront of surfing’s increasingly popular do-it-yourself movement. Photo by Jared Whitlock

COASTAL CITIES — Korduroy TV, a surfing website created by North County residents, shies away from professional surfers and exotic locations in its videos. What the website lacks in flash, it more than makes up for with everyman appeal.“It’s not about who can get the biggest wave or the biggest air on waves that the average surfer will never experience,” said Dan Llano, a filmmaker and Carlsbad native who runs Korduroy TV’s day-to-day business operations. “We pride ourselves on creating more relatable content.”

An oasis of “digital aloha,” Korduroy TV (korduroy.tv) offers tips on board-making; gives surfers advice on eating healthier and growing food; and spotlights lesser-known movers and shakers in the surf community with in-depth video profiles. In other words, Korduroy TV isn’t a typical surfing website.

“We strive for something that’s deeper in our interviews — getting beyond the surface level of typical interviews and getting to know people,” said James Campbell, a filmmaker with Korduroy TV.

Korduroy TV profiles surfers around the globe, but it’s focused on San Diego.

“So much of surf culture stems from San Diego,” Campbell said. “And it’s still the center of surfing in a lot of ways.”

Save for one full-time employee, Korduroy TV is the brainchild of half a dozen North County surfers with day jobs. The website has steadily grown since it launched in 2009, racking up acclaim along the way — Korduroy TV won “Surfer Magazine’s” “Battle of the Blogs” poll in 2010.

Part of the website’s popularity could be explained by its down-to-earth take on surf culture — a response to what Korduroy TV sees as an overemphasis of commercialism in surfing magazines and other surfing websites. But Korduroy TV was primarily started to encourage viewers to make things, whether it be surfboards, art, films or anything else. It’s a message that’s struck a chord with viewers in a harsh economy.

Campbell recently graduated from college and said many people his age are struggling with the shortage of jobs and diminished expectations.

“We were told to go to school and we were set for life after that,” Campbell said. “That’s not the case — no one really seems to know their place. But being able to create something makes you more empowered, or at least feeling you can figure out the world in a small way. Rather than thinking the only way you can feel of value is to buy something with money from a job you don’t have.”

He added: “Plus it’s just a lot of fun.”

The best of this do-it-yourself spirit is on display in Korduroy TV’s “Stoked and Broke,” a 2010 film that premiered at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas before screening at the New York Surf Film Festival, the Canadian Surf Film Festival and in San Francisco.

In the film, local surfer Ryan Burch and Korduroy TV’s Cyrus Sutton set out on a San Diego staycation with handmade rickshaws, sleeping bags, hot stoves, wetsuits, hand-shaped surfboards — and no money in their pockets.

“It proved you don’t need cash to have a big adventure,” said Reis Paluso, who helped produce the film and works as a blogger and web designer for Korduroy TV.

Korduroy TV and others who are a part of the rising do-it-yourself surfing movement have encouraged surfers to pick up a hacksaw, planer and whatever tools they can find in the name of experimentation.

In hopes of further encouraging the trend, Korduroy TV spent the last 18 months revamping its website to make it easier for artists, filmmakers and surfboard shapers to sell their products.

“We’ve always highlighted independent surf culture,” Paluso said.

“Now we want more people to participate with something they made with their hands,” he added.

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