Power and Responsibility


With regard to your editorial "Infinity Hits the Brakes" (12/1/03, page 50), First Amendment concerns notwithstanding, I strongly disagree. My wife and I own an AM station that has a sports-talk format. We air a two-hour, daily call-in show. My instructions to the host are simple and unambiguous: "I have a 9-year-old daughter and you (the host) have a 10-year-old son. Don't say anything that you and I would not want them to hear." The show has an excellent following, and no one seems to be put out that we haven't put on a caller who was having sex in a cathedral.

Over-the-air broadcasters have awesome power. Our programming blasts through walls and into the public's homes without control. No other form of mass media does this. Internet, cable, magazines, music, newspapers—all are controllable by simply refusing to pay for the service. Broadcasting is different. All that's needed to receive our signals is a small, cheap, portable box. Of course, purveyors of smut and shock will resort to the argument that "every set has an off button," but I find that disingenuous at best. To make sure every radio and TV in the average house is tuned only to non-Infinity-type stations all the time is impossible, even for the most well-meaning parent.

So, please, give it a rest. Every responsible adult knows (or should know) what constitutes civilized behavior. Certainly corporate executives at Infinity should. I doubt that they would be amused if a couple appeared at one of their board meetings, jumped up on the table and gave them an Opie and Anthony
special. Are we really so blinded by the First Amendment that we don't see this?

James G. Withers, general manager, KSIX(AM) Corpus Christi, Texas (receieved via e-mail)