After declaring that the public airwaves “belong to all the people,” Johnson said public broadcasting would fill a void in the lives of Americans by being dedicated “for the enlightenment of all the people.”
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives by a 228-192 margin voted to bar National Public Radio from receiving federal funds. The vote broke mostly along partisan lines with all but seven Republicans supporting the measure and all Democrats opposing it. The likelihood of it becoming law depends on it getting past the Democrats in charge of the Senate and the White House, a premise considered highly unlikely.
In a recent interview, the House bill’s sponsor, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., said National Public Radio is not “an essential government service” and that it had “outlived the reason it was originally created.”
Now there’s something to test: Is enlightened broadcasting Johnson called for no longer necessary? Has commercial radio filled the gap LBJ mentioned 44 years ago?
Friday morning, I probed this idea by randomly scanning the radio dial, something my family can attest is a specialty of mine. Here’s what I found:
7:25 a.m., WTDR-FM/92.7: Announcer says the mid-April NASCAR event at Talladega is “gonna be a great weekend,” before promoting the station’s ticket giveaways.
7:27 a.m., WHMA-FM/95.5: Morning news with Mike Mote covers interstate closings this weekend in St. Clair County, Knox Concert Series’ final concert and Gadsden State’s search for a new president.
7:28 a.m., WVOK-FM/97.9: Faith Hill sings, “It’s the way you love me / It’s a feeling like this / It’s centrifugal motion / It’s perpetual bliss / It’s that pivotal moment / It’s (ah) subliminal / This kiss, this kiss.”
7:31 a.m., WBHM-FM/90.3: NPR’s Rob Gifford reports on how Japan’s nuclear crisis has taken attention away from other damage caused by the tsunami.
7:38 a.m., WZZK-FM/104.7: On the Rick and Bubba Show, which it turns out was a re-airing of a previous program, the conversation centers on a long-ago radio contest trip to Los Angeles that went awry.
7:42 a.m., WCKA-AM/810: Calhoun County Commissioner Eli Henderson, a guest on the morning program, says, “We’d love to have some black members in our” local Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter.
7:50 a.m., WAAX-AM/570: Host asks if the United States is too “cash-strapped” to assist other nations in crisis. Caller responds that she doesn’t understand how anyone couldn’t be moved to give after seeing the images of suffering from Japan.
7:58 a.m., WZRR-FM/99.5: “Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me,” sings Freddie Mercury of Queen.
8:05 a.m., WBPT-FM/106.9: Phil Collins sings, “I can feel it coming in the air tonight.”
8:06 a.m., WUHT-FM/107.7: “God’s got it under control,” the inspiring gospel singer Kirk Franklin reassures us.
8:08 a.m., WBHM-FM/90.3: NPR reports on a study that finds incidents of stroke-related deaths are declining.
8:09 a.m., WAAX-AM/570: “We’re heading toward communism,” says Glenn Beck, adding that President Barack Obama’s weekend trip to Brazil is part of the plot.
At this point, I was thankful Congress hasn’t banned the button that turns the radio off.
A letter in Thursday’s Star took issue with the newspaper’s coverage of the Anniston High basketball teams’ run through the state playoffs.
Lynn Jackson of Anniston wrote, “The Star is quick to publish the bad about the high school, but it isn’t as quick to print the good. When our girls’ and boys’ basketball teams were winning, they were never recognized, or, should I say, they weren’t the headliners.”
Jackson added that the boys and girls teams played “without the support of our local newspaper.”
For the record, The Star covered both the boys and girls teams of Anniston throughout the state playoffs with lengthy articles and columns and eye-catching photography by our staff. By my count, the newspaper prominently played Anniston High games in the Sports pages from Feb. 25 to March 5, the time from the start of regional games through the finals.
Once the boys team reached the Final Four, Page 1 stories were published on March 4 and March 5. Both stories — one a column by Joe Medley and the other a column by Bran Strickland — included prominently played photos. On March 3, the top of the page teaser trumpeted Anniston High’s basketball success. The editorial page also wished the Bulldogs success on the day of the title game, which Anniston lost.
It’s up to readers to decide whether the stories and photographs were too much or not enough. It’s difficult to make a credible case that the school’s basketball success was ignored by The Anniston Star.
Bob Davis is editor of The Anniston Star. Contact him at (256) 235-3540 or email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter at: twitter.com/EditorBobDavis.