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Fayhee departs from Mountain Gazette

ALEX MILLER
Summit Daily/Brad OdekirkM. John Fayhee and Mike Kirschbaum are partnering to put out the Mountain Gazette.
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FRISCO – It was launched, had its name changed, died and then was brought back to life. Now, the Mountain Gazette is entering a new phase with the departure of editor and publisher M. John Fayhee.Fayhee plans to take a few months off, then continue writing for the monthly magazine. He’ll turn the business reins over to Mike Kirschbaum, former publisher of the Summit Daily News and, more recently, of the Denver Daily News.”I’ve been doing this for five straight years, and I believe no editor should be with a publication for longer than that,” Fayhee said. “You end up just going through the motions, even if you’ve gotten really good at those motions.”A part of the Colorado publishing scene for several decades, Fayhee, 49, said he’s looking forward to devoting more time to writing than handling the daily tasks of running a magazine. Kirschbaum, for his part, said he’s eager to build on the magazine’s strong writing with increased advertising revenue.”It’s hard to find writing like this anymore,” Kirschbaum said, referring to the Gazette’s reputation for long, literary-styled articles. “Everything else is going shorter, and I think it’s a really cool thing to think that I can help keep this alive, make it bigger and better.”

Death and rebirthA large-format magazine aimed at mountain dwellers with literary leanings, the publication began its life as the “Skier’s Gazette.” Renamed the Mountain Gazette, the magazine made a name for itself from 1972-1979 featuring well-known outdoor writers such as Edward Abbey, Rob Schultheis and George Sibley. Then, it went away. More than 20 years would pass before, Fayhee – along with partners Curtis Robinson and George Stranahan – relaunched the Gazette in March, 2000.The partners were convinced there was a niche for a magazine aimed at the outdoors set that didn’t focus solely on things like gear, destinations and Top 10 lists. That, Fayhee said, remains the mission.”A lot of people hate Backpacker and Outside and Kayak,” he said, referring to other popular outdoor publications. “Rocky Mountain Sports is toilet paper. People are tired of that kind of lame writing, that mainstream stuff.”

Old schoolIn the tiny Frisco office where the Gazette is published, manuscripts from would-be contributors pile up like snow in March. The magazine has always had an open-door submission policy, not only for essays and features but for poetry. It also pays – not much, but enough to encourage writers and photographers to submit material in a never-ending stream that must be waded through.And then there are the regulars, like George Sibley, a Western State College professor whose philosophical writings about mountain life were recently assembled in a Mountain Gazette-published book “Dragons in Paradise.”

B Frank, another regular, sends in typewritten manuscripts from an unknown location somewhere in the Southwest. Women are encouraged to submit – and some do – but the magazine still takes heat from readers who find its content too male-centric.Despite it modest base of operations, the Mountain Gazette has branched out in recent years, distributing limited numbers of copies in areas from Seattle to Stowe, Vt. Colorado remains its main distribution area, but readers can also find it in far-flung locations deep in the Appalachians, in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico and as far north as Montana and Idaho.Appealing to such a diverse readership and advertising base isn’t easy.”People in Montana are very different,” Fayhee said, citing one example. “Like everyone in the Mountain Time Zone, they hate Colorado.”Alex Miller can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 615, or at amiller@vaildaily.com.


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