Talking issues

Published 10:17 am Saturday, June 6, 2009

After one of the rare television appearances of my journalistic career, my first wife, never lacking for candor, informed me that I had a face made for radio.

Having accepted that constructive advice of a decade ago, I will return next month to the radio airwaves for the first time since high school, when I hosted a hokey monthly show about campus happenings.

The opportunity to revive my broadcast “career” comes at the kind invitation of WLQM Vice President and General Manager Michael Clark, who wishes to bring back his station’s tradition of a weekly public-affairs show.

For many years, Clark’s dad, the late Pete Clark, hosted “My Town,” an on-air visit with local newsmakers about the issues of the day. Our intention is to honor Pete’s legacy with “Our Town,” a joint production of WLQM-101.7 FM and The Tidewater News.

The show, which will be taped in advance, tentatively will air on WLQM at noon Fridays and be available later at for those who miss the original broadcast.

The aim is a newsy, topical, thoughtful conversation each week with a newsmaker from Franklin, Southampton County or Isle of Wight County. Michael and I, as businessmen who are heavily invested in this community, believe that public dialog about Western Tidewater’s challenges and opportunities will make our region stronger and help foster constructive solutions.

Some of the issues discussed will already be “in the news.” But in cases where important issues aren’t being discussed and addressed by governmental bodies, I will raise them with leaders who are in a position to make a difference.

Some early topics will be public education, better cooperation among area localities, job creation and the shrinking middle class.

Questions will be probing and pointed but fair. There will be no “gotcha” questions designed to embarrass or put a guest on the spot. Canned statements and rehearsed answers will be discouraged. Candor will be encouraged.

Readers or listeners who would like to suggest a guest or topic should e-mail or call me. The show will succeed only if the citizens of this community find it useful and enlightening. Stay tuned to WLQM and the pages of this newspaper for information on the debut show, tentatively scheduled for July 3.

Clark and I hope “Our Town” is the first of several cooperative ventures between the newspaper and radio station to provide relevant multimedia news content for the citizens of Western Tidewater. We’ve kicked around several possibilities for the months ahead and welcome your suggestions.