Regardie's asks its readers to pay to save magazine

December 11, 1991|By New York Times News Service Timothy Mullaney of The Sun's Business staff contributed to this article.

WASHINGTON -- The owner of Regardie's magazine, an irreverent business publication that flourished as a chronicler of Washington's high and mighty in the 1980s, appealed yesterday to its readers, most of whom receive the magazine free, to start paying to save the dying publication.

"Brother, can you spare a five?" William A. Regardie asked of readers at a news conference in his office overlooking the Potomac.

Proclaiming his 12-year-old, award-winning magazine a staple of Washington journalism at its finest and quirkiest, Mr. Regardie said the recession had all but done in his magazine, which reports on, as he puts it, "money, power and greed." In May 1990 the magazine broke the story on the connections between First American Bank and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International.

"Today, I'm throwing myself on the mercy of our readers," Mr. Regardie said. "If you want to keep Regardie's in business, either ... TC subscribe to Regardie's today, or I'm going to mothball this sucker."

Mr. Regardie said he poured $1.3 million of his own money into the magazine in the last two years to keep it afloat.

The magazine publishes 50,000 copies, 38,000 of which are sent free to a list of selected business, political and community leaders.

Less than two weeks ago, Baltimore's Warfield's magazine announced similar troubles. It ceased publication after more than five years of covering Maryland business. Its publisher announced that the biweekly glossy was being replaced by a weekly tabloid called Warfield's Business Record. Warfield's had been unable to push its paid circulation beyond

4,000 copies, despite a switch to the biweekly format from monthly publication earlier this year.

Warfield's, which had won an award from the Area Association of Business Publications, was giving away more than 75 percent of its 17,000 circulation.

Regardie's asks in the latest issue that those who now receive the publication fill out a card authorizing the magazine to debit their credit cards $5 each time a new issue is sent to them.

In its heyday, the magazine often had 300-page issues, with half the pages ads. It is now down to 96 pages, 35 of which are ads.

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