When Randa Duncan Williams was growing up in Houston in the 1970s, she was an avid reader, devouring everything from novels to literary nonfiction. She was particularly fond of a then-new magazine called Texas Monthly. When her parents’ subscription arrived each month, she would thrill to its true stories of outsized Texas characters. Over the years, she saved piles of old copies, and could quote passages of her favorite articles from memory.
And so, when Randa announced on June 25 that she was buying Texas Monthly, we felt we were in good hands. “My family is delighted to provide the resources to support this iconic Texas institution,” she says. “The journalistic integrity and quality for which Texas Monthly is known will remain unchanged.”
Her acquisition of this magazine is great news for everyone who treasures it. A seasoned lawyer and executive, she’s the chairman of Enterprise Products Company, a private firm with interests in energy, real estate, and ranching. She now will also serve as chairman of Texas Monthly LLC.
She purchased Texas Monthly from Genesis Park, a Houston-based private equity firm whose managing partner, Paul Hobby, served as the magazine’s chairman. At the time Genesis Park took over, in late 2016, the magazine had struggled with declining revenue. Paul led investment in newer platforms with growth potential: a more robust website, podcasts, and events such as Texas Monthly Live and our annual Edge of Texas festival. Under his stewardship, Texas Monthly’s total audience engagement rose by 76 percent.
Randa intends to accelerate investment in these new storytelling platforms, and in the literary tradition that caused her to fall in love with the print magazine as a teenager. “I especially enjoy its longform storytelling,” she says. “I want to own Texas Monthly forever. And I want the quality to be the best it’s ever been.”
Amid all the good news at Texas Monthly in June, we were saddened to lose three dear former colleagues and friends. In this issue, you can read writer-at-large John Spong’s memorial to Bill Wittliff, a longtime Texas writer, photographer, and archivist who died of a heart attack on June 9. As John makes clear, for all of Bill’s professional successes, his finest trait was the generosity he showed both to friends and to people he barely knew.
On June 22, a stroke felled literary critic Don Graham, who served as the J. Frank Dobie Regents Professor of American and English Literature at the University of Texas at Austin. Don was a longtime contributor to Texas Monthly and penned some of our most learned—and, occasionally, incendiary—book reviews. He was widely regarded as the world’s leading scholar of Texas literature—and was no slouch on Texas movies.
Four days later, historian and author Lonn Taylor died at the age of 79—the same age as Wittliff and Graham. Lonn was the author of books such as Texas People, Texas Places, and Marfa for the Perplexed. He wrote a popular column about Texas artifacts for this magazine.
The admirable work of Bill and Don and Lonn exemplifies what our new owner has in mind when she says she wants Texas Monthly to be the best it’s ever been. That’s our goal, and I hope you’ll write me at the address below to share your thoughts on what we should do more of, and less of, and better.