This was a delightful program with a great storyteller. Carey Winfrey was a long time columnist for the New York Times and later went on to become the editor of Smithsonian Magazine. He and I talk about some funny stuff, like the time he was too hung over to interview an up and coming David McCullough. We also get his take on the current political environment.
Carey Winfrey retired as editor of Smithsonian magazine in September 2011.
He began his career in 1968 at Time, where he wrote the Press and other back-of- the-book sections. He left Time in 1971 to produce “Behind the Lines,” a weekly PBS television magazine about journalism, for WNET/13. BTL won the 1973-74 Emmy Award for Best Regularly Scheduled Magazine-Type program and, in 1974, a Don Hollenbeck Award from New York University’s Department of Journalism.
He became executive producer of “Assignment America,” a weekly documentary series, in 1975, and executive producer of Local News and Public Affairs in 1976.
He returned to print as a reporter for the New York Times in 1977. Within the year, he was awarded Columbia University’s Meyer Berger Award for Distinguished Reporting for “his witty and elegant stories of New York life, written with a perception equal to his style.” In 1978, he was posted to Nairobi, Kenya, from which he covered three wars, the creation of Zimbabwe and the ouster of Uganda dictator Idi Amin, among other stories.
He left the Times in 1980 to try writing fiction but was lured back to gainful employment the next year by an offer to produce “Mixed Bag,” a video arts magazine, for CBS Cable. In 1982, he joined CBS Magazines, charged with turning the company’s stable of special-interest magazines into cable television shows. He became editor-in-chief of CBS’s Cuisine magazine in 1983; under his aegis, it was a 1984 National Magazine Award General Excellence finalist.
In 1985, Mr. Winfrey became vice president, editorial director of an expanded CBS Magazines, from which position he launched Memories magazine as its founding editor in 1988. Memories was named Advertising Age’s “Best New Magazine of 1989.”
In 1990, Mr. Winfrey was appointed editor of American Health, a Reader’s Digest publication. He left in 1996 to run the Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. The following year he abandoned the groves of academe to become an assistant managing editor at People. He was tapped to be the third editor of Smithsonian in June, 2001. He is the author of Starts and Finishes, a memoir (E. P. Dutton 1975), and scores of magazine articles. He and his wife Jane divide their time between Amenia, N.Y. and Key West, Florida.