On Tuesday last week, Bill Merritt was the mayor of Clark, Texas, and few people outside of Clark had heard of him or the town of 125 people about 30 minutes north of Fort Worth.
On Wednesday, Merritt became the mayor of Dish, Texas, and he and his freshly renamed town were world-famous, thanks to interest in the community’s willingness to take up an offer from EchoStar Communications: Ten years of free basic satellite TV service from Dish Network, along with equipment and installation, in exchange for the name change.
“Before, nobody ever heard of Clark, Texas, even five miles away from here,” Merritt told B&C on Friday. “Yesterday I got off the phone from a live radio show in Melbourne, Australia. So I think we’re on the map.”
Move to Dish and you, too, will get the Dish service for free. That enticement, Merritt believes, could spur some needed growth: “To say our town was stagnant—well, ‘stagnant’ would be a compliment.” A frustrating situation for any mayor, no doubt, but especially so for one who’s a real-estate developer. Merritt happens to be building some homes right outside Dish, and if those new owners want to annex themselves in, he’ll help, he says, but he won’t push.
Meanwhile, Merritt’s wife, Amy, cancelled the family’s DirecTV service last week. Merritt says when the DirecTV customer-service rep figured out his wife’s connection to the Dish deal, DirecTV executives got on the phone and pleaded with her to keep their equipment in case she changed her mind.
“She told them that wasn’t going to happen,” Merritt says.
Here’s something else that isn’t going to happen: publications like this one cooperating with EchoStar’s insistence that Dish be spelled with all capital letters.