Open Mike


Renovating the Garage?

Editor: The ironic juxtaposition of the Wallace Dunlap (distinguished KDKA-Westinghouse alumnus) obituary and Harry A. Jessell's great "Garage Sale" (July 2, 2001) piece in the same issue is a poignant reminder of how careless we, as an industry, often are in preserving worthwhile elements of our past. Not only is the threat to destroy the KDKA landmark site an insult to Dunlap and all his Westinghouse compatriots, it is a disgrace that the industry allows it to happen.

Although segments of our industry do outstanding work in preserving icons and artifacts of the past (e.g. The Broadcasters' Foundation Library of American Broadcasting; The Museum of Radio & Television, East & West; Interrep; Susquehanna Communications) the Conrad-site story, alas, is repeated far too often.

Perhaps, thanks to Jessell's donning his white hat and leading the charge, there is still time for enough good guys to ride to the rescue of the historic Conrad site. Hey, maybe Viacom might even take another look at the Conrad preservation appeal and reconsider its decision, so that the entire KDKA founding site may yet get a new lease on life.

Meanwhile, if the Conrad property does escape the wrecker's ball, Rick Harris should be included in a future B&C Hall of Fame induction.—Philip K. Eberly, Wrightsville, Pa.

Editor: Just had to say bravo for Harry Jessell's column on Dr. Conrad's garage. The broadcast industry is now for the most part led by (controlled would be a better word, perhaps) by financial "wizards" whose only skills seem to be to know how much of a vital organ they can slice off before the patient dies, and this for the exclusive purpose of making the next quarterly report to Wall Street look brighter. Long-term planning is looking at making the next
quarter look grander, not 3-5-7-10 years out at the health of companies, nor, God forbid, at the negative effects of slashing news budgets, public-affairs programming and broadcasting's general commitment to the "public interest, convenience and necessity."

It might do these "wizards" good to take a pilgrimage to look at Dr. Conrad's garage and house in Pittsburgh and to meditate a few minutes on where this industry came from and where it should be going, before broadcasting blends into the miasma of a hundred undistinguished cable channels and countless Internet video portals.—Tom Mann, Los Angeles

Editor: I very much enjoyed Harry Jessell's "Garage Sale" story. What a shame that the Frank Conrad homestead will likely be lost. Unfortunately, there are not many folks in upper radio-management positions today who know, understand or give a damn about tradition.

It's not just Mel Karmazin, but I expect Lowry Mays and Lew Dickey and Bob Neil and most other top executives. Maybe Dave Thomas understands and respects tradition (generally, if not broadcasting specifically) and will step up—or maybe not. And, of course, I'm sure there is no chance the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, or the NAB, or the city or state governments can be counted on for assistance. (How about the National Trust for Historic Preservation?)

What a sad day for all of us "old-timers" in the business.—Jerry Green, Houston


Editor: I enjoyed very much the piece on Entertainment Tonight
("ET: The business behind the buzz," July 2).

Thanks for including the role of my company, but I felt another, Al Masini, deserved mention. As president of TeleRep, the advertising rep firm owned by Cox, Masini was the creator of the ET
concept.—Robert N. Wold, formerly Wold Communications, Laguna Niguel, Calif.