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 isn’t 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 – that’s 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 aren’t 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 holder’s 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.”
I’ve never heard any of FRM 94.7’s broadcasts, and I gather that some of their politics are on the goofy side. Nevertheless, they’ve got just as much of a right to be wrong as Rush Limbaugh does. Just because they haven’t been blessed by the big money, that doesn’t mean that they should be coerced into silence.

Carl Sharpe
e-mail (Memphis)

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.

Greg O’Keefe
e-mail (Memphis)

Not Enough Cops
To the Editor
In response to Phil Campbell’s 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 case.
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 individuals.
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.

J.E. Bland
e-mail (Memphis)

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 All responses must include name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters should be no longer than 250 words.

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