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Talk radio one barometer of public sentiment

By Staff
Sept. 30, 2001
The black and tan cat barely budged from a window perch when "Dumpster Dog" called in with some excellent questions to a certain newspaper editor doing a guest appearance the other day on the WMOX "Morning Show." The feline also took little notice when other callers got on the line.
Tiger and this observation is based on a single meeting seems to be like most cats, willing to tolerate human beings without getting directly involved in their troubles or comments. Cats are aloof most of the time, calculating their next move, nibbling at their food, or simply kicking back content to watch the world go by.
You never know what cats are thinking.
The same cannot be said for callers to this day's Morning Show. You know what's on their minds because, in the finest tradition of talk radio, they come right out and tell you. They ask good questions and make good comments.
And they say no morning would be complete without Eddie Smith, Billy Frank Whitworth, Bill Smith and Mike Pierce, or without the opportunity to express themselves over the AM airwaves at 1010 on the dial.
This is an encouraging sign in a country that values freedom of speech. And the Morning Show is a good barometer of public sentiment not the only one, but a good one just the same.
The opportunity to say what you think to an audience larger than your immediate family in a live format is a wonderful expression of why we love America.
It's called freedom of speech. Callers to the Morning Show enjoy it. People who write letters to the editor enjoy it. For that matter, editors enjoy it too. It is a fundamental American right, cherished, threatened, yet somehow enduring. We must never lose this freedom.
Eddie and his son, Bill, and Billy Frank have been doing this morning show for so long they can sense when a call has gone on too long. They know when to punch up the next person on the line, change the subject, take a few anniversaries or birthday announcements, get in commercial messages, and offer a few giveaways that serve as little bonuses for listening in.
Talk radio is a very attractive forum for freedom of expression and the format works well for the Morning Show crew. While they say audience participation varies depending on what's piquing the public's interest, on this day, there was no dead air. The three hours went by quickly and they were done, as always, in time for Rush Limbaugh at 11 a.m.
What callers to the Morning Show don't see or hear is the behind the scenes chatter during commercial breaks and network news updates. Callers don't see the e-mails coming in, the hand and voice signals Eddie and Billy Frank give each other and their ability to twist this dial or flip that switch and talk and write and drink a little coffee, all at the same time.
In short, it can get really busy. Callers respond to something someone else said. They share information, they tell it like they see it. They call back when someone else responds to something they said.
Sometimes, they tee off on the hosts, who rarely hesitate to respond in kind.
Husbands call in birthdays for their wives and wives call in birthdays for their husbands, proud grandparents for their grandchildren, mothers and dads for their children or parents. Aunts and uncles get into the mix.
All in all, it's not unlike the old concept of a big family gathering over dinner and telling each other whatever's on their minds. Or neighbors leaning over the backyard fence to discuss the day's events.
Only, today, who has time for that? Just call the Morning Show. And ask about Tiger.
Buddy Bynum is editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3213, or e-mail him at bbynum@themeridianstar.com.

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