One of the best sections of a newspaper is the page you have open right now. Everybody I know reads the “Letter to the Editor” first thing every day. (that is, after sports and comics).
My Aug. 15 column on the lack of variety in local radio programs was noted by a host of opinionated readers. The one who suggested I leave town will be disappointed, for I can’t even afford the gas to visit friends in Bangs.
“Bias is in the eye of the beholder,” said Perry Flippin, former editor and writer of the San Angelo Standard-Times. If a person thinks a bias exists, then that is what they will see. (Speaking of bias, a special prayer meeting ought to be called for Sheila Richardson, treasurer of the Brown County Democratic Party, and all those who wish they could make the “bias-free” media circus in Denver.)
The balance in individual radio programs (not stations) turns some people on, while it is of little importance to others. For example, one faithful (?) reader wrote, that most people in this country do not listen to talk radio because they are too busy taking care of children, feeding the family and making ends meet.
Such is the refrain from around the world. People everywhere hope and pray for the world the children will inherit. That is normal, and must not be neglected. Since we are all in this boat of life together, we need to know who is handling the rudder. We need all the help we can get to send better politicians (is that an oxymoron?) to Washington and Austin.
The now defunct “fairness doctrine” is best explained on The Museum of Broadcast Communications web site. It “grew out of concern that because of the large number of applications for radio station being submitted and the limited number of frequencies available, broadcasters should make sure they did not use their stations simply as advocates with a singular perspective. Rather, they must allow all points of view.”
That was the 1940s. By the 1980s the “scarcity” argument disappeared with the abundant number of channels available and the Federal Communications Commission took it off the books.
This was also the era of growing government sponsored deregulation (the act or process of removing restrictions and regulations). We know how deregulation of the airlines, energy and the trucking industry turned out. The late Bill Shaw, San Antonio area manager for the former Central Freight Lines, told me deregulation in their industry was not good for the company nor the public.
The late Mike Royko, nationally syndicated Pulitzer Prize winner, wrote 34 years for three Chicago newspapers. His superb biography of the infamous Richard J. Daley, mayor of Chicago, is a classic. The book is an incredible portrait of the last of the backroom Caesars. Royko skewered cultural trends, raged about injustice and by turns was acerbic, hilarious, and deeply moving. Here are a few pertinent lines from a column. Royko wrote, “I have to admit that after almost 19 years of writing a daily column, I’m a bit wary of people I don’t know. I’ve had conversations that have gone like this:
‘I hate your column.’
‘Looks like a nice day.’
‘Your opinions are disgusting.’
‘Of course, it could rain.’
‘Do they really pay you for that garbage?’
‘Well, see you again.’
‘Drop dead.’ ”
Getting back to friend Perry, who has told me more than once, if an individual in this newspaper business is dishing it out, then he’d better be ready to take it. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
I get my inspiration from the great literature of our time: Mike Royko, (“So much to hate and so little time”), Lewis Grizzard (“If Oil Were Love, I’d Be About a Quart Low”), Art Buchwald (“You Can Fool All the People All the Time”). Russell Baker (“There’s a Country in my Cellar”), and Al Capp (“My Well Balanced Life on a Wooden Leg”). I think they would all join me in saying: “While we’ve got their attention, let’s give it another shot!”
Britt Towery, a Brownwood native, is a former missionary, freelance writer and published author of “Along the Way” and “Carey Daniel’s China Jewell, story of the Gal from Buffalo Gap.” He lives in an undisclosed location in San Angelo, Texas.. His columns are published in the Bulletin on Fridays. He welcomes reader feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other columns are available on his Web site, www.britt-towery.blogspot.com.