In my capacity as program director for a private radio station I have occasion to make changes in the stations policy from time to time. If I make a change that gains wide approval from the listeners, I hear nothing from them. If I do something to gain their disapproval, the phone comes right off the hook and the mail flows in. I have often wondered why the human race is so slow to express approval and so reluctant to say thank you. Isn’t it true though? If we like an article in the paper we read it and forget it. If we dislike it, we write the editor. If a waiter or a clerk gives us a good service, we except it. If the service is poor we complain to the manager. If the repairs on our car are well done and satisfactory we are happy but silent. If we have a complaint we are fast to see the service manager. If we like the music a radio station is playing, all is well and good, we say nothing. If we don't like it, we write or phone the Program Director. Any person who provides a service knows of what I speak. Most folks honestly attempt to do their best. One in a million will say thank you for a job well done. Why then are we also anxious to complain when something doesn't satisfy. What a wonderful world it would be if we all learn to express our gratitude as loudly as we express our displeasure.
Wednesday, 3 November 2021
For those of you who do not know it, I am the program manager at a radio station. At this time of year we naturally program a great deal of Christmas music. There is one Christmas recording however we cannot use on our station, for its playing always brings phone calls and letters of complaint. That recording is Mahalia Jackson's Silent Night. If you are familiar with Miss Jackson you know that she is probably the foremost gospel singer of her time. In fact she refuses to sing anything but sacred music. Her rendition of Silent Night however departs somewhat from the simple melody we all know and love. Miss Jackson puts into the song all the deep feelings she has for this special Christmas selection and in so doing seems to offend a certain segment of the radio audience who feel the song should be sung, as they in say in music, "straight". I hasten to explain that she sings Silent Night at a very slow traditional tempo. It is just in the melody that her magnificent voice cascades over you melodic lines to give the old Carol a thrilling new dimension. Yet people phone and tell us it's a sacrilege. These same listeners will sit through a monotone reading of the same song by some tasteless performer like Bobby Vinton and never bat an eye. Simply because he adheres to the melody. Loving music as I do, I feel strongly about this, for no one sings Silent Night quite like this great lady. Do yourself and the Program Director of this station a favour of this year. Phone and ask to hear Mahalia Jackson's moving recording of Silent Night.
We had an election in our city last month. There was a great deal of bitterness in the campaign since one of the candidates for mayor had been forced out of office as mayor some years ago for what was termed "gross misconduct." In the hotly contested election last month he was again returned to office. Since then our city has been the scene of picketing, street brawls and threatening violence. Constitutionally we all have the right protest, but we see developing in our quiet western city all the ingredients of mob violence. We all think the same thing. "It couldn't happen in our town". When I hear that I think back to another community who thought that way, and it wasn't so many years ago either. It was November 26, 1933, in San Jose, California when over 10,000 people took the law into their own hands, battered down the doors to the jail house and removed and lynched two convicted kidnappers. Mothers were seen hoisting their children above the mob for a glimpse of the kidnappers as their bodies hung from the trees. Such occurrences hang very heavy on the conscience of a society and even today in San Jose, no one wants to discuss that terrible night when the mob took over. I am not suggesting that such a thing will happen here in our city, but I do suggest there is great danger when two opposing factions gather in one area to "protest". Somehow a man feels less responsible when he is part of a group and believe me, it only takes one thrown rock to turn a "group" into a mob. We CAN’T let it happen here.
Right here and now I want to go on record as saying that TV is destroying the American and Canadian family. No, it's not the westerns and the private eye shows that I take exception to, it's a family shows. It's guys like Mr. Anderson in Father Knows Best and that syrup sweet mother in the Donna Reed show. These people are giving our kids the wrong impression of what to expect from their folks. Did you ever hear Mr. Anderson scream at the kids on a wet Sunday afternoon when they are all cooped up together? Does Donna Reed ever lose her temper and haul off and belt one of the kids? As a matter of fact, did the kids ever give them reason to? Even the commercials are destroying us. You see father in his big easy chair smoking his pipe and reading the paper with a big grin on his face and mother, she's knitting a sock and beaming at the kiddies with a big grin on her face, and the four little children are playing tiddlywinks on the rug, all getting along like a batch of angels. They all have grins on their faces, and it's one great big rose coloured world because they all can't brush their teeth after eating but are protected by GL70. Never a belt in the ear, never a fistfight in the corridor, never a raised voice, never to bed without supper, and if a little dirt should be brought into the house by the kiddies, all the idiots running around singing Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean, he cleans in just a minute. Mr. Clean will clean your whole house, and everything that's in it. And of course, they all have the idiot grin on their faces. Just try talking like that. It's impossible. Can you imagine Junior sticking his head in the door and saying with the idiot grin, "Mommy, I just threw sis in the automatic washer”. And you say, "I hope you used Cheer dear so she'll come out whiter than white". And the kid says "I didn't mommy, I used Zest". For the first time in her life she'll be really clean. Yes sir, TV is destroying the home. How many sets have I got? Two of course. Why be half-safe?
When I was a kid, there were two very very important words that I heard at least 20 times every day. Those two words were, "straighten up". For 10 years I heard that loud and clear call every time I set out for school, every time I went out with my best girl, every time I got within earshot of my father, "Straighten up”. My dad knew there wasn't too much he could do about my brain, but my spine he was going to look after, and I was never allowed to forget to throw my shoulders back whenever dad caught me in an upright position. Why I mention this is because I think the youngsters of today need a few "straighten ups" yelled at them, especially the young ladies. Last Sunday I just took notice, as I'm sure you have done, of the number of young ladies who sort of sag along the street in their flat heels. Their eyes are downcast and their spines bent over and so many of them have that "what's the use" look. In contrast, I saw two other young ladies on Sunday walking along 142nd St., beautifully turned out in their Sunday best and they were straight as a die. They look like a million dollars. So mothers, and fathers, let's get the kids to throw those shoulders back and straighten up those spines or we're going to have the saggiest generation of adults in history. And kids, if you are listening, just try it for a while and see what a difference it makes in how you look and how you feel. You're going to have to carry the burdens of this world on those shoulders, so let's get those spines straight up and down and begin to look like you can handle the load. I know things look black, but I'm sure they're not as bad as those bent over backs and droopy young chins would indicate.