Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fare thee well, RMC!

Last Friday Carstens Publishing closed its doors. Along with that announcement came the notice that Railroad Model Craftsman would be suspending publication.*
Since then the model railroad inter webs have been buzzing with comments, posts about RMC and what it's demise means to the individual hobbyist and the hobby as a whole.  I truly feel for the employees of Carstens Publishing, and for the Carstens family, many of whom I've known for a long time. This is a particularly emotional and difficult time for them all. 
I've always had a soft spot for RMC. My first appearance in print in a model railroad magazine was in RMC. I have to thank RMC editor Bill Schamburg for recommending me to a headhunter who was searching for young editors for a "hobby publishing house in the upper Midwest." That turned out to be my entree into working on the MR staff - a time in my life of many professional and personal blessings. 
I always enjoyed seeing the Carstens gang at various conventions and shows. Colonel Hal Carstens sat in a number of my clinics over the years - he had a real interest in the Central Vermont. One time, without realizing Hal had snuck in after the room was dark, I referenced one of Hal's photos - an overview of the White River engine terminal in Ed Beaudette's Central Vermont Railway (published by Carstens). I couldn't include the picture in the clinic but mentioned it was a great image and that it, and Ed's book, were well worth checking out. 
At that point a deep voice in the back of the room quipped "All you have to do is ask…"  
I returned home from to find an envelope from Hal with a beautiful 8 x 10 b&w copy print of that image and the note "Marty, Ask and you shall receive. Think you might be able to find a use for this in your next CV clinic?…." (remember, I worked for the 'competitor' at the time! I was thrilled to include Hal's photo in my clinic with the credit to "H. Carstens, Carstens Publishing!!")
I do feel that over the last few years, RMC had something, well, missing. But I still enjoyed reading it and continued to purchase every issue. It's just something about it didn't grab me like it once had. 
Growing up, the highlight of the model railroad month was riding my bike to the hobby shop on a Saturday afternoon, walking into the store, and heading right for the magazine rack to see if the new issue of RMC was there. There was precious little I could afford to buy - but I could always scrape together enough to purchase the latest magazines. And, if I had only enough for one magazine and was forced to choose between Model Railroader and RMC, the Carstens product almost always won out. 
I was going to blog on some of the great articles I remember reading in RMC "way back then."  Then I realized I've already done that. In fact, it's one of the most popular posts on this blog. You can read it HERE
Fare thee well, RMC! Thanks for a great ride. 

*There are rumors of one or two parties who are interested in acquiring the rights to RMC. Although I sincerely hope this is the case what I know about magazine publishing, and acquisitions of magazines, makes me less than optimistic. 


Unknown said...

Well said.



Robert Smaus said...

RMC was my favorite modeling magazine because it dared to look at the real craft side of the hobby. It could even get esoteric! They kept prototype modeling going strong. Bill and Chris were real gentlemen, but let’s not praise the current Mr. Carstens too much because he ended the magazine with deceit and deception. He has not paid at least some writers for almost a year, even if they were the cover story with 7 pages inside. Photographing and writing articles is work and when asked why we hadn’t been paid he would not even give a reply. His father, I’m sure, would be ashamed.