Sunday, June 07, 2009

The LuLac Edition #840, June 7th, 2009



When I was about 11 in mid December 1965, I was trying to fall asleep on a school night. It was tough because Christmas was bearing down on me like a freight train and I was excited wondering what goodies were going to be bestowed on me. Tossing and turning I tuned into the radio and came upon the old WBAX Radio show called “Speak Up” with host Jones Evans. This was the night time edition that ran from 10pm to 1am Monday through Friday out of the old broadcast building on Union Street in Wilkes Barre. Evans was waxing philosophic about something or the other until he received a phone call from a man who talked about a family in Ashley having a tough time during the Christmas season. The man went on to relate the family’s considerable troubles and within that hour, “Speak Up” became a fundraising and social network to get this family help. By the next day, station General Manager Jim Ward was on the air imploring listeners to help out. Long story short: radio station WBAX utilized its airwaves to save a family’s Christmas. And it started with only one phone call. When I worked at WARM as a sales rep, then talk show host Kevin Lynn got a phone call from someone who told him Red Barons GM Rick Muntean was going to be axed by the Lackawanna County Commissioners. Lynn checked his sources, took to the airwaves and a public outcry ensued that not only saved the GM’s job but let him leave on his own terms instead of being forced out like a political pawn. That event also started with a singular phone call. I thought about those two incidents the other day when it was announced they found Donnie Skiff’s body in Suscon. No one knew Donnie Skiff’s name except his fellow band members, co workers and friends until one morning when a caller to The Sue Henry Show on WILK Radio related that he was missing. The caller told Henry of the young man’s dependability, devotion to his father and apparent adherence to routine. All of that added up to the fact that something was amiss in this young man’s life. The caller intimated that law enforcement officers did not seem to be taking the recent disappearance of the young man seriously enough. After the Henry show, WILK News ran a story. Then the newspapers picked it up as well as the TV news operations. Tragically the outcome for Mr. Skiff was not good. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends. But we must point out that the journey to find out what happened to Mr. Skiff began with a simple, solitary phone call from a worried friend. The call was received by a community minded, compassionate and reasonable human being. This person just happened to be behind the microphone doing what broadcasters are supposed to, but rarely do in this age of a fast buck, cookie cutter news and music formats: perform a public service. We all take great delight in trashing our remaining remnants of local radio. It’s too negative or boring for our tastes. All of that aside, Donny Skiff’s friend could never have gotten his message out on satellite radio or an outlet locally that did not have a lifeline to its community. This case demonstrates that local radio still has some juice to move things along, even though the ultimate ending was not a good one.


At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice commentary Mr. Yonki. Radio, local radio is a true public service.


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