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Thursday, May 8, 2003 02:20 pm

Your Turn 5-8-03

Ahead of her time

To the editor:
Many thanks for Cinda Klickna's fine retrospective on 1930s Springfield, gleaned from Lucy Williams' remarkable diary ["The Lost City," May 1]. The photos and the history revived plenty of memories and perhaps stirred new appreciation for Vachel Lindsay, the poet who gave our town a literary legacy despite its ambitions.

One correction is necessary, however. Ms. Elizabeth Graham, although an enthusiastic supporter of Lindsay's work, was never his teacher, Lindsay having graduated from Springfield High School when Ms. Graham was not yet six years old. If anything, Lindsay's work instructed her, for she went on to help found the Vachel Lindsay Association in 1947, for which all Illinois writers, and historic preservationists, owe her a nod.

William Furry
Vachel Lindsay Association


Jack talks smack

Dear Dusty Rhodes,
I wonder how you became such an expert on talk radio in such a short period of time. Before you appeared as a guest on my show, you told me that you had never listened to talk radio. You then printed your version of "How One-Eyed Jack Wrecked My Life" ["Full disclosure," February 13]. What a hoot that was! Your last article ["Nice guys finish first," May 1] reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Frank Lloyd Wright: "I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters."

I'm glad for Bob Murray. Bob and I have been friends for many years. I hope he is happy and very successful at his new job.

However, talk radio in Springfield has sunk to a new low at both WTAX and WMAY, going from a discussion of interesting and timely events to talk of where you first made love, or whether it's OK to beat your kids in the grocery store. Many stations have completely abandoned the real issues and gone to a backyard, "over-the-fence" approach (as defined by WTAX program director Joe Crain), discussing only those issues for which there are no right or wrong answers.

This type of format may gain a following for a short time but goes by the wayside in the long haul. While picking up many poorly educated, "mad as hell" types, stations quickly lose anyone who reads any current publications, or has knowledge of the real issues that face our country. Both WTAX and WMAY now have a handful of listeners who call on every subject from "Corns, why are they on my feet?" to "Will O.J. find the real killer of Laci Peterson?"

None of these listeners are bad people. It's just that you have to know the issues to discuss the issues, or you can avoid the issues and (as Jim Leach would say) talk "smack."

I always did the research, as anyone who has worked with me would certainly attest. On any given morning, I awoke at 2 a.m. and read 15 to 25 newspapers. I printed 30 or 40 stories daily for use on my show and put out a weekly newsletter for years. I always stayed informed and expected my producer to do the same. You can't discuss the issues if you don't know the issues. Try to find a radio show host in Springfield who puts that much research into his or her show. There are none. What a shame. Knowledge is power.

If I were on the air today, I would be talking about:

The Sangamon County Republicans are going through a giant upheaval that will lead to the retirement of chairman Irv Smith. If you want to get involved with a brand new "from the grassroots to the top" Republican Party, join now.

Why the Democrats will last only 4 years in state office and be glad to get out after the next election, and why Tim Davlin may be mayor for life.

Why you can ignore all of the hype about Springfield schools getting more money this year. . . . It's smoke and mirrors. Come on Gov, "Show Me the Money."

Iraq is over, "who's next"?

When talk radio again becomes a way to improve, redefine, and force needed changes in government and life, it will be worth your time to listen and participate. That day may be in some distant future. Today there is no light at the end of the tunnel and no talk on my radio.

Thank You,
D. E. Jackson
["One-Eyed Jack"]


Teach our children well

To the Editor:
This letter is in reference to the "Young Americans" article on the racial incident at Ball-Chatham's Glenwood High School [April 10].

In my light and meager 40-plus years of living, I was raised and schooled in Springfield. I have lived on both the west coast (California) and the east coast (New Jersey), and now find my current residency back in the Land of Lincoln.

Growing up in the Catholic school system during the 1970s, I rarely met anyone who wasn't of the Caucasian ilk such as myself. There were a handful of people of other ethnicities, but, by and large, very few. Still, I was raised by my parents, my religion, and those times (the post-1960s--peace, love, and racial harmony) to treat others who were different from myself as I would wish to be treated in return.

I have lived with, worked with, and befriended men and women from across the globe--Egyptian, Irish, Chinese, German, South American, Iranian, Cuban. When I returned to Springfield, one of the most striking differences was the noticeable number of international faces that now populate the city and that are our neighbors.

The world is ever becoming a smaller place to live. From the perspective of terrorism and the fear it wishes to propagate, this is a bad thing. Meanwhile, the variety of cultural experiences and the personable warmth of people, no matter how distant their country of origin, is an enriching and valuable life lesson, one to be sought and embraced.

Which perception of our international community did the Ball-Chatham's Glenwood High School students reflect? A community that welcomes a multicultural environment, or a community that only tolerates it? Perhaps the more rudimentary question is "Whose perceptions did they reflect?"

We are no longer quite so isolated here in the Midwest today as we had been in the past, and we are richer for it. It is a welcome phenomenon.

Jim Bertrand

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