Wake up, American radio listeners
I was fascinated by your analysis of the radio situation in Charlottesville. [April 11: "Spinning trouble: Clear Channel gets spanked by the FCC"] This story is a clarion call.
For me, radio shares my day— all day. I wake up to it and turn it off at about dinner when I talk to my family or watch TV as I cook. I have been listening to Charlottesville radio since I first came here in 1978 as a visiting author and camper.
Allowing computerized stations to dominate the air will kill our ability to become educated citizens. Radio is one way to educate ourselves. We cannot do that by allowing ourselves to be at the mercy of a disconnect.
What happens when we are at the mercy of disconnectedness? My husband and I experienced just that on September 11.
We were in Kentucky the morning of the attack. We were in our car for 10 hours trying to get home and find our five children and our New York relatives. We station-hopped attempting to fathom what we were hearing.
Can you imagine what it was like to hear that the first 110-story tower had just collapsed, without seeing it? We surely had misheard. That day was terrifying enough, but depending on radio to shape our mind's eye was positively bizarre.
What did we hear on radio? No national communications company had a radio news team in place capable of handling such a challenge except NPR, and even NPR had to rely on TV.
There we were, listening to TV newscasters who had the advantage of visual backup for their commentary but who had forgotten they also had a radio audience. Sometimes, this was okay, but gasps and moans, left unexplained, panicked us.
What does this have to do with Charlottesville and Clear Channel vs. The Others? Nothing except it gave me a peek at what it would be like to be at the mercy of a communication system completely remote from me. Of course, the circumstances of that day are exceptional (we hope). But, talk about being disconnected!
So whose fault is all this? I’m not sure I can place blame, but at some point, we need to recognize where we are headed. I think your article was a start. Wake up Charlottesville! Wake up America!
Linda Moore McRaven