Archive for February, 2009

Two Giants in Georgia Broadcasting Leave Us

February 22, 2009

When I went to work for WSB in Atlanta in 1957,  Don Heald,  whose professional name was Don Elliot,  was still doing the noon news on WSB-TV.   Since both radio and TV used the same newsroom at the time,  I met Don.  He could  tell I was a little  anxious about how I would do on the great “50,000 -watt Voice of the  South.”  He told me not to worry about it.  “Just do your job and everything will be fine.”  He switched from news to sales shortly after I got there.

I met Marc Bartlett in the White Columns’  fancy break room.  White Columns was the then new building that housed both stations. The building’s facade looked like something out of Gone  With the Wind.   I got to know him a little  because he, who was WSB-TV’s general manager,  and the  radio station manager, Frank Gaither, would come in the break room and have coffee with the troops most mornings.  It was great for  employee relations and the only time most of  us got to converse with them.

Both Don Heald and Marc Bartlett died last Thursday,  Heald, who was 86,  at 4:30 in  the morning,  and Bartlett, who was 98,  at 1:30 in the afternoon.   This is big news in Georgia broadcasting because these two men were Georgia Broadcasting legends –   Heald, because of his decades as vice president and general  manager of WSB-TV,  and Bartlett, because of his incredible  career with Cox Broadcasting, owner of both WSB and  WSB-TV.

Bartlett joined WSB in 1930 as a 19-year-old part time studio pianist.  Over the years became station manager of WSB, and when  WSB-TV went on the air in 1948, he became the TV station’s first  station manager.  After decades he ended up as Vice President  of Cox Broadcasting before retiring.

I got to see both of them at the last WSB Oldtimers reunion, which was about threee years ago.  The choice moment at the reunion was when Bartlett sat down at the piano and started playing.  Here he was, in his 90’s,  doing what he did in 1930 when he started at WSB,  playing the piano.  That was special.

It’s up to the Georgia House to Stop Georgia Power’s End Run on Nuclear Reactor Construction

February 15, 2009

  It’s up to the Georgia House to stop Georgia Power’s end run around the state public service commission.  Instead of going the normal route through the commission, Georgia Power wants the legislature to pass a bill requiring rate payers to start paying in advance for two new reactors at Plant Votgle.


Plant Votgle, Courtesy: NRC

Georgia Power got what it wanted in the Georgia Senate Wednesday and now the measure goes to the House.   Let’s hope it is not rushed . This multi-billion dollar deal needs close examination.  

Aalborg, Denmark.

Aalborg, Denmark.

Why all this emphasis on nuclear when wind power costs half as much?  I heard a Georgia Power executive say that wind power is a dubious proposition for Georgia.  Still, Georgia Power has exclusivbe rights to build wind turbines off the Georgia coast, but they haven’t made any move to build any.  Maybe that needs to be changed.  T. Boon Pickens may love the idea of building those turbines.

Then, there is solar.  Georgia Power isn’t keen on that, either, saying the state doesn’t get that much sunlight.  Yeah. Right.   I remember years ago hearing one GP executive jokingly say, “You can’t put a meter on the sun.”

It’s all about money.  Ours. They want it.  Disclosure: the only stock I own is a little Southern Company (I’m mainly a bond investor) so you would have to ask why I would be cautious about Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power making moves to make more money.  Maybe it’s because I pay one heck of a lot more for electricity than I make from Southern Company dividends.  Besides,  there is the common good to consider.   It’s about time we started thinking about that.

Time Tells Us How to Save Our Newspapers

February 12, 2009

The Time magazine article on “How to Save Your Newspaper”  by Walter Isaacson,  has a simple solution: charge for online content.   But, not just for a subscription,  but buying one paper at the time,  or even one article at the time.  Sounds complicated, but Isaacson assures us it can be done now. He uses the example of I-tunes,  where you can buy one record at the time,  or one album a a time.

Would I be willing to pay for an online subscription?  The Ledger-Enquirer’s E-Ledger is being offered at $4.95 a month, which is quite reasonable,  and the E-Ledger edition gives you a copy of the print edition,  but, so far, I haven’t subcribed. Why?  I can still  get the regular online edition free.  Would I pay for it if the free online edition were discontinued?  Yes.   But, only if the paper  continues to provide comprehensive, in-depth coverage,  especially in areas that local  television stations either ignore or cover cursorily.

“Voices” Shrinks … Well, the Printed Version

February 11, 2009

  Right after I read the cover story in Time on “How to Save Your Newspaper,”  I learned that the Ledger-Enquirer is ending the “Voices” opinion section of the Sunday paper.  Well, as Editorial Page Editor Dusty Nix told me,  it’s not totally ended, but it will be shortened from four to two pages and won’t be a section of its own.  But, there will continue to be an editorial and the regular columnist will continue to be published.

This is not only a way to cut expenses,  an effort that has been underway for some time now,  but it also accents the trend away from print to online.  While Dusty is losing a couple of print pages on Sunday, he is gaining just about all the space he wants online, including space for the pictures he wants to run.  He says the online version will be greatly expanded over the print version, with room for reader comment and videos.

As the Time article points out,  newspapers are not losing their readers. They are, in fact gaining more, many more.  But, that gain is online.  People are reading more than ever,  but they are abandoning print. 

Now, about Time’s solution for saving the newspapers.  We’ll look at that tomorrow…if I feel like posting tomorrow.

“Follow Me” Arrives at Its New Home

February 10, 2009

   Media types flocked to the new National Infantry Museum to get a picture of the famous Follow Me statue that stood decades in front of Infantry Hall at Fort Benning.  Here are a few that I took of the 49 -year-old statue of Gene Wyles,  an OCS student, that was sculpted by two privates.  I know the name of the person who posed for the statue because Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry White, who heads up the museum project,  told me.  He said he personally knew Wyles, that he is still alive and is a farmer in South Carolina. 

More on this later.

Follow Me statue arriving on a flatbed truck at the new National Infantry Museum

Follow Me statue arriving on a flatbed truck at the new National Infantry Museum

Crane lifting Follow Me in the rotunda of the National InFantry Museum

Crane lifting Follow Me in the rotunda of the National InFantry Museum

Such a Bargain!

February 9, 2009

The National Endowment for the Arts just released a study that shows, again,  people are reading less.   You would never have guessed it by the crowds that converged on the Columbus Public Library over the weekend for the Friends of the Libraries annual book sale.  The crowds were larger and more money was spent on buying the books than last year. 

Friends of the Libraries Book Sale,  Columbus Public Library

Friends of the Libraries Book Sale, Columbus Public Library

Every type of book imaginable was on sale,  fiction, non-fiction, history,  textbooks,  rare books,  religion,  fantasy, and science fiction,  all donated by the public.  Except for the few rare books that sold in the $50 range,  the rest sold for $1 for hardbacks,  $.50 for trade-backs, and $.25 for paperbacks.

Who gets the money that is made after expenses? Friends of the Libraries.  What does it do with it?  Gives it to the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries.  That’s the whole idea behind Friends,  supporting the public library system.

Being a longtime supporter,   I work in the book store every other Tuesday.  It was fun learning to operate the cash register.  This year,  I am honored to be on the organization’s board of directors.  I do it because libraries are such wonderful places that offer the world of thought to everyone absolutely free, and, while books are still  the mainstay,   they are just part of the mix,  which includes audio books,  music CDs, movie DVDs,  computers,  book signings by famous authors,  lectures and movies,  and meeting rooms for all sorts of events. 

Friends of the Libraries Book Store, Columbus Public Library

Friends of the Libraries Book Store, Columbus Public Library

You show me a town that has a great library system and I’ll show you a great town.   Columbus has a great library system,  thanks in no small part to Friends of the Libraries.  Maybe you’d like to join our cause.  It’s easy,  just drop by the Friends Book Store,  buy a book for peanuts,  fill out a form, pay ten bucks, and you’re a member.  You don’t really have a to buy a book to get a form,  but it would be nice.   If you join,  not only are you supporting the library system, you get benefits, such as a free book for the most expensive one (up to $5)  you buy that day.  Say you buy a $.50 paperback and a $3 hardback,  you get an additional $3 book.   Come on one of  the Tuesdays that I am there, and I will personally thank you for it.  Big deal, right?

My Garden

February 2, 2009

Some time ago I made the statement that, while I can’t promise a post every day – blogging is not my life – I would always make an effort to post something new on Mondays.  This Monday, there are a number of weighty issues I could get into,  especially with the legislature going back into session, but that would take a lot of energy,  and this epic chest cold I have isn’t leaving an abundance of that for anything but fighting it;  therefore, this Monday it’s going to be light and personal.

As I said, blogging isn’t my life.  For instance I am gardening now.  My second crop is coming in so I thought I would show it to you.  My first crop was herbs, and this one is varieties of lettuce, including Romaine.  The crop is not fully grown yet,  but will be ready for harvesting soon.

My hydroponic lettuce crop

My hydroponic lettuce crop

I can’t say that my gardening takes a lot of time and energy,  but the results are dependable and impressive.  The hydroponic garden was a Christmas gift (not this Christmas) from my niece Janet Sue Gray,  her husband Gordon, and their three sons.  It just keeps on giving.