In the News
A Spoon full of Vigor
had been a difficult transition for Chris Stevens from KBHR radio in Cicely,
Alaska. The philosophical exchanges with Ed Chigliak were history now;
the diverse musical selections that once separated KBHR from the big city
pop stations were as silent as the traffic in and out of what once was
Ruth Ann's store.
Ruth Ann's heirs had sold out to corporate blood, turning the once locally
flavored general store into a Wal-Mart Express, a junior version of the
discount store that sold fishing lures favored by urban anglers and re-mastered
gangster-rap CD's sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and orchestrated
by the 1,000 Strings orchestra.
America's diminishing options, even in outposts like Cicely, hit Chris
with the force of a Brick hamburger, before that Cicely dining and drinking
establishment had become still another chain coffee shop with plastic
pancakes and coffee that tested positive for uranium extract.
Now thanks to the FCC, KBHR had become a "hate talk" radio station,
and suddenly there was one less low-powered station that could argue Schopenhauer
amidst a background of "Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie." The only
existential debate these days was whether liberals should be skinned or
roasted on a barbecue spit. KBHR radio was now of one mind with America.
Maurice Minnifeld was, after all, an entrepreneur, and mindful of the
true needs of a successful radio station: corporate cash. Minnifield had
no other option than to sell the station to SingleThought Productions,
the radio, television and newspaper conglomerate that now operated every
media operation in the US from Cicely to Key West, Florida.
There was a time when radio listeners actually expected both sides of
an opinion in any news outlet, especially when communities like Cicely
had only a single outlet within its listening and reading area. Radio
stations had once sent listeners to a newspaper for more detail and editorial
pages for a diverse selection of opinions. "It should have been a
clue that when Reagan said: 'I paid for that microphone,' he meant he
was tired of listening to liberals on his airtime," Maurice had told
Now that America was of one thought, there was no longer any need. "We
report, you shut up and get back to work," had become the philosophy
behind SingleThought Inc. In the words of George H.W. Bush's late twentieth
century Secretary of State George Schultz, there was no need for Americans
to worry their pretty little heads about things like "Star Wars"
Defense Systems or whether or not, statements about certain weapons of
mass destruction were truthful — or just so much PR fluff.
It was a new morning in America, USA. Town names like Cicely were quaint
reminders of a time when books were sold in stores operated by quirky
independent writers who wanted to advance the cause of American literature,
rather than conglomerates looking for the latest celebrity gone bad drivel.
It was a time when coffee was poured by waitresses who called you, honey,
and pies came in flavors other than apple and cherry. "For your convenience,"
referred to the 7-11 on the corner. The person who answered the customer
service phone knew it was raining out without asking your zip code.
Chris had returned to the Northeast Corridor, determined to find one last
outlet that provided refuge from hate talk, news that was designed to
foster worker inanity and productivity — meanwhile playing music
that would have teenagers scream for Lawrence Welk. Less than a hundred
or so miles from the home of Skull & Bones, his Chris' Aunt Clara
of Athol, Massachusetts was a welcome sight, even if she did make him
wipe his shoes outside, and make frequent comments about his casual posture.
Athol was one of those town names you remembered "Big Time,"
Chris thought to him. More importantly, Athol was one of the few places
in the world left where he could find a piece of shoe-fly pie. Having
an Amish, elderly aunt who knew nothing of radio, television or even newspapers,
was an island of flashback in a world of oneness. This was a special time
that not even Cicely could share. "Did you bake a shoe-fly pie?"
Chris asked his aunt.
"Why no," she answered. I had to sell the recipe to that coffee
shop chain. You know the one that's been advertised on my new television