And now for something completely difficult:
After 45 years of gracing the Sunday paper each week, the Kansas City Star Magazine is taking a farewell bow.
We’ve assembled a fitting salute for a proud publication that was ahead of its time when it launched in January 1970 and that outlasted most of its counterparts at other daily newspapers.
You’ll find a look back at the history of the magazine in the modern era, from 1970 to 2015, and its earliest incarnation as the magnificent whim of the publisher’s daughter from 1924 to 1926. We’ve also assembled a gallery of favorite covers through the years.
For six years, the mag has provided me a beautiful canvas for cover stories that ranged from the arty and sophisticated “Sensuous City” — a Valentine’s week offering with photographer Jim Barcus of underappreciated spots in the metro that stimulated the five senses — to the gritty and dark “Car Jail,” for which photographer Allison Long and I spent a bitterly cold overnight shift at the police vehicle impound lot and witnessed more evidence of violence and gore than we had reckoned with.
I loved the spontaneity and intimacy of The Mag Interview (later renamed The Conversation). My vision was to give readers a seat at the kitchen table, so to speak, with people from all walks of life. I prized my obscure subjects, such as pet psychic Holly Jacobs, as much as the rich and famous ones, such as Sprint CEO Dan Hesse and University of Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self.
I insisted on conducting the conversations in person, no exceptions. I was on a mission to give readers unfiltered access, to see how quickly subjects could think on their feet and hear the rhythms of their natural speech with no quote doctoring by unseen PR handlers.
Once, after hounding Sheila Bair’s office in Washington, D.C., to land a sit-down interview with the then-head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and native Kansan, I was rewarded with a near-heart attack one day when a Star security guard handed me a business card and said, “The FBI was here and you need to call this agent.”
Bair’s office arranged the security check before it told me the second most powerful woman in the world, according to Forbes, had agreed to my terms.
Some magazine features are going away: Deborah Shouse’s Love Story and Charlie Podrebarac’s long-running “Cowtown” cartoon, as well as the Money Manners column, “Everyday People” cartoon and the KenKen puzzle.
Going forward, we will accept submitted photos from area fundraising events for KC People. Please email information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The crossword puzzle, Celebrations announcements and The Conversation will move to the Sunday A+E section. I will still write a column, which will appear in the most appropriate features sections, from House + Home to Chow Town to the Sunday A+E. However, you can find them all online here.
I repeat: The crossword is moving to A&E. (My career in the features department has taught me the humbling lesson that nothing I ever write will generate calls and emails like people not being able to find the crossword.)
It’s important to note that the spirit of mag stories — the deep profiles, the quirky stories, the gorgeous photos — is not going away. You will find them on our site at KansasCity.com and throughout the newspaper.
Those stories are the reasons we are a part of readers’ lives. I have loved the emails, phone messages and handwritten letters I’ve received, usually in response to columns, that made me feel like the mag and I were a welcome presence in readers’ homes each week.
You indulged my ruminations about Volkswagen minivans, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Christmas in Germany, moving from the Plaza to rural Kansas and gardening — lots of gardening, probably too much.
You voiced encouragement, agreement and disagreement and shared your own stories and memories. There is no greater compliment for a writer. Thank you.
And now, I’ll close with this final thought: Please remember, the crossword is moving to A+E.