April 12, 2004 12:00 PM

As I look back on these 30 amazing years of PEOPLE, I think about my own experiences at the magazine. I started as an eager ad-sales representative in our Boston office in 1986. I was excited to land the job, but I confess that I was not a PEOPLE reader. So I was a bit mystified as to why the magazine was such a stunning success.

As I began to read the stories, I quickly learned that the reason for PEOPLE’s achievement as the world’s most popular magazine was not simply that it was a great read. That was a given. No, PEOPLE’s special attainment, its predominant place in the fabric of American culture, lies in the intimate conversation that it has each week with you—our devoted readers.

The dialogue that is PEOPLE quickly became a personal pleasure for me. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is talking about the magazine with you. When I’m in the supermarket, on airplanes or lunching at a restaurant, when I say I work at PEOPLE, it causes people to smile and respond with enthusiasm and energy.

You’ve never been reluctant to speak your minds. In impromptu conversations, you’ve told me what you like—inspirational stories, great pictures, inside dish. And what you don’t—”enough of J.Lo and Ben!” I am forever defending the annual choice of Sexiest Man Alive, although last fall I knew the editors had chosen well, based on the compliments I heard on the cover with Johnny Depp.

The stories that pull on our heartstrings also come to mind. I remember when young Ryan White appeared on the cover in 1990. Early on in the AIDS epidemic, PEOPLE showed that the disease wasn’t limited to a single demographic. Ryan’s story made AIDS real in a way that all of us could understand at a time when there were a lot of misunderstandings about the disease.

It is this close relationship with you that inspires the people behind People each week. I know I speak for everyone here at the magazine when I say thank you to all of you. Thank you for your devotion and involvement. We all look forward to bringing you the most revealing and compelling human stories for the next 30 years.


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