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Your fine article on the closure of Regardie’s Power (“Power Down,” 3/23) was a bittersweet read from start to finish. Nonetheless, I believe, or at least claim to believe, that Bill Regardie is one of the most important publishers in U.S. history. A grand statement, I know, but then it’s also true that back issues of Regardie’s magazine are now required reading at many journalism schools in the U.S. and abroad. To this day, I still get calls from reporters, art directors, and journalism-school teachers seeking copies. The power of the art and storytelling contained in those old issues continues to gob-smack.
Though Regardie’s fell into the so-called city-magazine category, Regardie consistently told his writers and editors to view the world as his magazine’s metropolitan area. As your article correctly points out, boxcar loads of the stories he published over the years are legendary, not only in Washington but around the globe. And despite Regardie’s well-known taste for the schmooze, he never once allowed his dancing with fat cats or marketing studies to influence the magazine’s editorial independence.
If Regardie has a bad habit as a publisher, it’s his truly insatiable curiosity. Money, he often said, should never get in the way of reporting a good story. His marching orders to writers were non-negotiable: Do whatever and go wherever necessary to tell the tale, whether the story be corruption in a mayor’s office, the collapse of the Soviet Union, or the black-market arms trade. And he wanted those stories longso long, in fact, that Regardie’s top-flight editing team of Brian Kelly, Bob Vasilak, Steve Gittleson, and Bill Hogan often had to argue with Regardie over cutting stories for space. “Can’t we get another ad to find more copy space?” I heard him say more than once.
In the end, I suspect, history will record Regardie right up there with the likes of Arnold Gingrich and Harold Hayes at Esquire and Willie Morris at Harper’s. And, like those of that power troika, Regardie’s passion and influence will be sorely missed by future generations of feature writers. So it goes.
The Wall Street Journal
Regardie’s Magazine, 1984-1990