Letters to the Editor
Furthering the Pirate Radio Debate
To the Editor:
The fact that pirate radio stations [cover story, November 27th
issue] are springing up suggests that there is a lot of pent-up
energy out there, energy that radio as we know it isnt expressing. A quick scan up and down the dial confirms that inertia
is a heavy presence. The radio business has reached the stage
of a mature market ossified is more like it where the main
competition in most cities is between two or three giant chains,
each owning and managing several local stations. These stations
usually offer standardized formats that are as interchangeable,
from city to city, as Pentium chips.
Does the public want a choice? Well, it can have Coke, or it can
have Pepsi. It can have a short list of songs, or commentators/talk
hosts, from a short menu of familiar flavors, played over and
over again. And NPR/PRI, the occasional college or volunteer
station, and pirate stations aside thats about it.
If listeners are to escape paying the tedium tax forever, a way
must be found to open up this closed loop, so new entrants to
the market can come in from nowhere and shake things up. I suggest
a four-sided attack.
First, the FCC should stop favoring concentration of ownership,
and start enforcing phased-in divestiture, toward an eventual
limit of one radio station per absentee owner, per media market.
There should also be some upper limit to local concentration,
since local quasi-monopolies arent any better than national ones.
Second, the FCC, or Congress, should free NPR and PRI from any
requirement that they extend their programming to stations smaller
than 100 watts a service load that could become financially
burdensome and then do away with the 100-watt power mark as
a prerequisite for an FCC license.
Third, allow pirate stations under 100 watts to operate unmolested,
as long as they do not interfere with a license holders signal
and meet the same legal requirements that license holders are
supposed to. Truly micro stations might operate as unlicensed
nonprofits, indefinitely. Stations approaching 100 watts would
be expected to become licensed within a specified time. A filing
of intent to seek a license would be required before advertising
time could be sold for profit. And the FCC would be empowered
to assign or re-assign frequencies to pirate stations interfering
with licensed stations, or each other.
Finally, there should be a law against anti-competitive advertising
practices, forbidding stations from refusing to sell advertising
time, or jacking up the price, to clients who have taken some
of their business across the street.
Ive never heard any of FRM 94.7s broadcasts, and I gather that
some of their politics are on the goofy side. Nevertheless, theyve
got just as much of a right to be wrong as Rush Limbaugh does.
Just because they havent been blessed by the big money, that
doesnt mean that they should be coerced into silence.
Gay Rights Should Have Limits
To the Editor:
I agree that gay and lesbian civil rights is a worthy cause, but
Mubarak Dahir and others like him take this too far [Viewpoint,
November 20th issue]. In the private sector, or in non-military
sectors of the government, they should be allowed to perform any
jobs for which they are qualified.
They should not, however, be allowed to marry, they should not
be allowed to adopt children, and they should not be given financial
benefits which married couples receive. President Clinton was
absolutely right when he signed the so-called hateful Defense
of Marriage Act; same-sex marriages are a disgrace.
President Clinton and other politicians are simply doing their
jobs and representing the people who elected them, for most people
in this country are against the idea.
Not Enough Cops
To the Editor
In response to Phil Campbells article How Many Cops Do We Need?
(November 13th issue), I would like to add my two cents worth.
I have several friends who are with the Memphis Police Department.
Their jobs vary from patrol officers to their supervisors and
members of the communications bureau. Their opinions vary greatly
as to the way the department handles various aspects of their
jobs. However, the one issue that everyone agrees on is the delivery
of services to the citizens of Memphis, or lack of it, in this
If you asked any dispatcher in the communications bureau what
their main problem is, they would tell you it is not having enough
officers to send on calls. Most people would believe that when
they place a call to 911 they will receive instant service, which
in cases of true emergencies they are entitled to. However, if
you examine the average hold time of these calls, you would see
otherwise. The problem: no one to send.
So just how many more officers do we need to hire to solve this
dilemma? In all actuality they are in place right now, but a large
number of officers are being allocated to areas other than uniform
patrol. Examples include officers assigned to City Hall, bicycle
officers, Co-act officers, and officers at mini-precincts who
serve no purpose except stroking the egos of a small group of
In a perfect world all of the various concepts these units encompass
are a great idea, but in the real world of solving crime in Memphis
they are having just the opposite effect. If you ask me which
I would prefer having an officer respond to my emergency in
a timely manner, or having an officer sitting at a desk at my
local mini-precinct my response would be obvious.
Maybe the police department should quit trying to model themselves
after larger cities that have larger police forces and focus on
the officers we do have by putting them back out on the streets
where the real problems exist.
The Memphis Flyer encourages reader response. Send mail to: Letters to the Editor,
POB 687, Memphis, TN 38101. Or call Back Talk at 575-9405. Or
send us e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. All responses must include name, address, and daytime phone
number. Letters should be no longer than 250 words.
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