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Editor's Notepad

Editor's Notepad

From "Great Moments" to great builders

comments (5) May 19th, 2010 in Blogs
Click To Enlarge Photo: Jackie Rogers

When I started working at Fine Homebuilding in 1994, I had been a homeowner for less than a year and was petrified of doing any type of work on my house. Nearly 16 years later, I’m still petrified because—well, do you know the kinds of things that can go wrong on a construction project?

You do, of course, because since issue #2, our back page has featured “Great Moments in Building History.” Like much of the magazine, “Great Moments” is reader-written, but instead of sharing details on how to build smart, beautiful homes, you’ve shared the problematic projects and the job-site disasters.

“Great Moments” has been a reader favorite, and I have had a great time getting to work with so many of you who have been willing to let others laugh at your frustrations. Still, as FHB evolves, we think that it’s time for a change. Starting with this issue, you’ll find something new on the back page. From artisans who have perfected their craft to builders, architects, engineers, and others who are pushing the industry forward, each “Tailgate” will feature an interview with a home-building pioneer. Some you may recognize; others will be our unsung heroes.

We’re transitioning into “Tailgate” by featuring Jackie Rogers, someone I’ve had the pleasure of working with for more than 15 years as the artist bringing “Great Moments” to life. If you have an idea for someone who would make a good subject for a “Tailgate” interview, email us at

—Chris Hoelck, senior copy/production editor

posted in: Blogs

Comments (5)

Sirworksalot Sirworksalot writes: I guess I missed the reader survey that asked us if we wanted to keep Great Moments.

I have all the issues tucked safely in their burgundy slip covers and do honor your great publication. Paul Roman is a true pioneering genius.

That being said, I too would always go to Great Moments in Building History as my first parousal after seeing the cover. Consistently it is the only article I have always read in entirety. Even when the stories have turned to crap because the writer made them too cutesy or they were written by someone who has never done anything, they were saved by the always delightful illustrations.

So collect my money and never ask me what I like and have Lowes (we only buy from China) have a pop up on your website and laugh all the way to the bank.

Posted: 1:30 am on May 26th

Barry_K Barry_K writes: I was very disappointed find a new feature sitting in Great Moments' place. While I enjoyed reading the Tailgate article featuring Jacki Rogers, I can't believe you would get rid of, as you call it, "a reader favorite".

I have been a subscriber ever since buying your first couple of issues off of the rack, and that's a long time. With almost every one that arrives in the mail box, I first look at the cover with excitement, check out the back cover, and do a quick thumb thru to see what pictures will leap off the page. Then I check the Great Moments page in the back to see if I want to read it first or save it for later in the "little library" with the running water.

May I suggest keeping the new Tailgate feature (it sounds like a great idea), AND keeping the Great Moments (anywhere in the magazine). Maybe do away with one of the MANY pages of ads and charge an extra nickle for the subscription.

I'm sure there are a lot of stories out there waitng to be told. Like, did I tell you about the time I slammed my thumb with a hammer, BIG time, and after a very painful night, I got out the trusty Black & Decker... well, I'll send it it.

Posted: 6:56 pm on May 24th

calvin calvin writes: Thank you for telling us about the elimination of the Great Moments page by using the story of the very talented former illustrator of the page. That was a good read, a little thin on information, but at long last a chance to meet her.

I too am disappointed that you think Great Moments has run it's course and something new and improved needs to go in it's place.

Once again you folks pull out some of the most surprising things to try and I assume, increase readership. Why? You've already renovated many parts of FHB when in the eyes of many, it wasn't needed or wanted. It seems you are trying to increase readership at the expense of a once loyal following.

Now it might be simple math but if you lose as many as you gain, where's the benefit? Further, if you lose more than you gain, how big is the loss? I'd hate to see you improve yourself out of print.

Also, I'd really hate to see you improve yourselves out of business. This is not a far fetched idea.

Look at the way your what used to be lively forum Breaktime has "grown" into-a skeleton of what it once was. Many of the very educated members upon whose help a whole lot of people relied on have left. Total posts a day that used to be in the hundreds (if not more) have now dwindled to a trickle. Goofball spammers are showing up and posting ads that takes you days or weeks if at all to find and delete. There's no monitoring of content, questions go unanswered and suggestions just passed over.

The web content? Some of it is good, but poorly indexed (at least for the non genius part time user. I stumble on this story by seeing the comment in a box on the right (Recent Comments)((read it today when I went to the back page as I always do walking down the drive with the newly delivered mag in hand)).

Don't take me wrong, there's probably alot of good information right here in FHBWeb, but don't ignore the things that got you some pretty good notoriety. Visit Breaktime once in a while and respond-I've asked you more times than I can remember-and take it seriously-that was a fine information source you almost lost. There's a few left trying hard to keep it going, how about at least trying to give them a hand?

And please reconsider changing your mind on GreatMoments. Don't turn that move into another big blunder.

Posted: 3:40 pm on May 21st

amazingrace amazingrace writes: Who needs "Great Moments" anyway. My work day is full of laughs and giggels aaaallll day. It is about time to get rid of it. To print something like that in your professional magazine is degrading, to have someone laugh out loud, sometimes to the point of tears, good ridense. I want more serious, grown up, advice and stats that bore the life out of me. Yep...... thats what I need, who needs a laugh now and then. I want serious discussions all of the time. It's like the Sunday comics, who reads those ?... What a waste. Because I would not want you to add 1 extra page to the magazine or change the format of something else, so that you might be able to keep GM and run the interviews at the same time.

Posted: 8:05 am on May 21st

BURT BURT writes: I am really, really disappointed that you have decided to discontinue "Great Moments in Building History". It is almost always the first thing I turn to when each new issue arrives in the mail. I think you're making a large mistake. The new "Tailgate" interviews may be fine but I don't think its smart to jettison a winner. This smells like change just for the sake of change. Remember "new Coke". That grand plan didn't turn out too well. I don't even care if you want to put "Great Moments" in a different place in the magazine, I just don't want to see it gone. I can't believe you have completely exhausted all the "Great Moments" there are (or will be).
Posted: 1:05 am on May 21st

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