I in no way am claiming to be a professional, as I am just a slush pile reader, but I just noticed that I really don't read cover letters that much. The Oddville Press appreciates those who send cover letters (and I send them with my short story submissions as well), but I was just curious whether or not they get read. I only read the cover letter of the writer if I liked the short story and would like for it to be included in the e-zine. Sometimes I do read cover letters before reading the story, but most of the time, I do not.
I know some magazines want cover letters to pitch the story in one sentence, as a faux query letter I suppose. And I know they're necessary for agents who have requested partials or fulls. But, to me, they don't seem that relevant to magazines. The cover letter really just pitches the author's bio, and frankly, I'm only interested in an author's bio if I like the story. The credentials of the author don't matter to me either, especially if the story isn't up to par with the credentials they tout.
I'm not saying they're a waste, especially since a lot of magazines take on-line submissions now and you don't have to worry about wasting that one extra piece of paper, but I was jut curious over their relevancy. I know I don't read them that much. I have no clue about the rest of the staff though.