By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Politicians make so many promises that most people don't pay much attention anymore. But last week, our ears perked up when Dallas City Councilwoman Donna Blumer took a dramatic stand in defense of city ownership of WRR-FM 101.1.
WRR, of course, is the only government-owned commercial radio station in America. Despite the station's innocuous classical music format and broadcasts of Dallas City Council meetings, more than a few Dallas leaders wonder what in the heck the city is doing in the broadcast business. This is, after all, free-market, get-government-off-my-back, never-give-a-sucker-an-even-break Big-assed D.
Moreover, in a recent cover story ("Static quo," September 19) the Dallas Observer explored all the reasons--and there are many--why the city should get out of the radio business. While WRR doesn't lose money, it doesn't make much, either, despite its tax-friendly status and rent-free Fair Park facility. The station is a horribly managed testament to the pitfalls of city bureaucracy, and its programs are crappy, to boot. All in all, the station is a rather pinko proposition.
But the pot is really boiling now. The city recently received appraisals showing that--in the volatile world of radio deregulation--WRR's license is now worth as much as $38 million, and that could climb to $50 million in the next three years.
That's enough money to fix a lot of potholes, but a few council members, including Eagle Forum member Donna Blumer, don't want to cross the blue-haired-society types who consider the station sacred. "It is the city's crowning jewel, its most stellar asset," Blumer gushed to The Dallas Morning News.
As if that weren't hyperbole enough, Blumer went even further. She made The Promise: "I love WRR. I would lay down my life for it."
Fair enough. Blumer obviously has the courage to take a political stand. We think our readers ought to as well.
Now that Blumer has drawn the line in the sand, we think the citizens should decide whether she should cross it. Vote on the coupon, clip it out, and mail it to us. We'll keep you posted.