TRUE COLORS The whole world was watching. The white people of Mississippi had a chance to send a message that would help erase over 100 years of bad publicity. They had a chance to repudiate the fact that before the Civil War, Mississippi had more slaves than any other state, that it was the site of some of the most gruesome violence of the civil rights movement as the white citizens of the Magnolia State did everything they could to resist giving black citizens the right to eat, live, and go to school wherever they chose. They blew it. The white people of Mississippi have spoken loud and clear. “Tradition” means more to them than any sense of justice, belated though it may have been. Like the bumper sticker says: “Forget, Hell!” BRING ON THE WHO I have been driven back to rock-and-roll in the past few days. I usually keep my car radio tuned to sports talk shows, but lately there has been entirely too much talk of golf, NASCAR, and outdoors. Those, at least to me, are deadly boring subjects for sports talk shows. After this weekend’s NFL draft what will the hosts talk about? Having sat in the host’s chair a few times myself, I can sympathize. The secret to making a local talk show lively is not to rely too heavily on callers. Let’s face it, there are only about 15 listeners who call the local shows and we have heard plenty from them. With WMC 790 throwing their hat into the sports talk ring next month, we should get more national talk shows on the air. That’s good. Sports 56 (WHBQ) will be joining The Sporting News network as WMC takes away several of their national shows (including Jim Rome). We’ll see if the changes can keep the sports talk junkies listening through the dog days of July and until college football talk heats up. If not it will be Led Zeppelin for me. IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM . . . You may have noticed the latest entry into Memphis’ crowded free-circulation newspaper landscape. Memphis Publishing Company, publisher of The Commercial Appeal, now has a number of racks around town with free copies of their Friday “Playbook” entertainment section inside. This is a typical response from daily newspapers when forced to compete with free alternative weeklies (like the Flyer). The only thing about the strategy that is questionable, is why it took the company so many years to implement it. The idea is simple. Daily newspapers have seen their circulation steadily decrease for more than a decade. Meanwhile free alternative weeklies have been successful with their mix of news, politics, and entertainment listings. One way to combat those trends is to put the weekly entertainment section that is in the newspaper anyway out on the street as a freebie. Along with competition from alternative weeklies, daily papers are feeling the pressure of parent companies (in this case Cincinnati’s Scripps-Howard) to increase their profits. Some papers have reduced the size of their pages to cut cost and drive revenue. The C.A. did this a few months back. Reportedly the company has hired two new account executives to sell ads for the “Playbook.” No doubt they will tout the free pickup at the “Playbook” boxes -- which are mostly downtown and midtown -- in addition to the daily paid circulation. One interesting question is whether The Commercial Appeal will put its considerable editorial resources into the product or be content to offer the same product for free. Stay tuned. This and That . . . Did you see the cover of Sports Illustrated this week? It features a shirtless Allen Iverson wearing a large chain around his neck, some low-riding shorts, and what looks like a dozen tattoos. Not exactly the poster boy NBA Now would like to portray the league they are trying to bring to town. . . . Speaking of the Grizzlies, check out the website www.hunttheowner.com. It presents the Vancouver perspective in an interesting and sometimes humorous light. . . . Rivals.com is the latest internet company to fold. The network of sports sites, ceased operations last week (you can still access their main site, but it is not being updated). The local affiliate of rivals.com was Tigerillustrated.com, a site devoted to University of Memphis athletics. The message boards are frequented by many hard-core Tiger fans, who will be happy to learn that Brian Parker (this week’s Flyer coverboy who runs the site) intends to keep Tigerillustated running. Parker says he is looking into affiliating with another network or keeping the site independent. . . . The news from Cleveland that Randy Whitman has been fired by the Cavs is good news for Cedric Henderson, the former East High and U of M star. Henderson’s minutes fell drastically this year under the first-year coach. Ced’s claim to fame is defense and Whitman was evidently not willing to overlook his lack of offense. . . . The U of M will soon announce a million-dollar deal with a Missouri firm. The arrangement will allow the company to publish the U of M’s game programs and sell sponsorships in exchange for $1 million. . . . QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I don’t know why so many people are spending so much time talking about the NBA coming to Memphis. It either is going to happen or it isn’t. Talking about it doesn’t change anything.” -- overheard water cooler conversation reflecting the impotence many Memphians feel on this subject.

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