Old Time Radio In Our Home
Having been a radio broadcaster for only a few years I do not pretend to be a professional sage that can pontificate from on high about Don Imus and his disgusting and racist remarks. But as a long time radio listener, and lover of the medium, I do feel qualified to offer a few thoughts about what has happened to that magic little box over the years.
Don Imus has reminded me that in this run-up to the election for the White House we seek a person that we want to welcome into our living room each day via the news. Some polls show that if a person is not likable then they are not electable as president. How is it then that so many people welcome into their homes and car via the radio the despicable shock-jocks like Don Imus and Howard Stern? How can they feel that these ‘entertainers’ are the type of people worthy of being our guest?
And that is what they are, or at least how we should treat them. They should act like guests. Would we accept rude, degrading, and vulgar language from others that we invite into our inner circles? Would we allow racial and homophobic remarks from friends seated in our dining room? If not, then why do so many allow the Imus type of radio characters to enter our homes?
I am in my mid-40’s and yet have no problem admitting being so far removed for what passes as either acceptable or entertaining fare these days that most of the current culture is allowed to pass without my attention. I do not feel like I have missed much when I tune in again and find the rancid ‘humor’ of Imus making news.
For instance I learned this week that in March 2007 during just four minutes of air time Don Imus and his producer laughed at ‘beating up faggots’, knocking over Jewish tombstones, setting ‘homeless bums’ on fire, coarsely talking about Anderson Cooper’s sex life, calling Obama a ‘colored man’, wishing that some sissy on “American Idol” would be the victim of a hate crime, and making a nasty comment about Rosie O’Donnell’s private parts. This all falls under the guise of broadcast ‘entertainment’ on our radio in 2007!
I recall as a kid my mother hearing the word “damn” on a radio news actuality and commenting that she did not think it proper. That may seem real strange today but there was a time not so long ago that there was a sense of propriety about the airwaves. Somewhere, slowly but surely, the train careened off the tracks and Imus and Company is now accepted. Corporate boardrooms love the millions that shock-jocks make through advertising but I find it hard to accept the lowering of the common denominator of the broadcast medium that I love so much.
As a boy I played radio using my father’s old stopwatch to time my news reports, which were stories from the Stevens Point Daily Journal. My newscasts were ‘funded’ with ads found in the paper. And I fit it all into five-minute segments just like the major broadcasters did. By the time I was really behind a microphone as an adult at a small market station giving news stories that I had covered and written, I actually was pretty good with knowing how much talking would be required for an allotted time slot.
When I slipped up shortly after starting my radio job and added a hard ‘k’ sound to then City Attorney Staufaucher’s name during the news no one was more hard on me, than I was to myself. It wasn’t professional and I was determined that this type of error would not be repeated. Today on some stations with certain personalities that would be seen as a reason for a series of jokes that would only digress further and further into the rot that now infests some of radio.
Thankfully there is a great deal of professional radio that is still the type many of us knew from years ago, and gravitate to today for news and entertainment. National Public Radio, WGN from Chicago (every radio in all rooms of our home have this station programmed), WSM from Nashville, KMOX from St. Louis, WBZ from Boston, and others such as these still have that rock solid sense of professional broadcasting, and all in good taste.
Yeah, I know good taste is frowned on at some stations, degraded as old-fashioned among others, and even considered out of date, but I bet Imus wishes now he might have had an ounce of it last week. And I am very firm in my belief that good taste is still a commodity that most radio listeners still seek when they make their way around the radio dial.
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