Thursday, June 29, 2006

Tune in for "Watauga Talks"

Guest blogging: Glenn Hubbard

More than 14 years after I quit WATA in a self-righteous pique -- angry that after nearly six years' work my pay was less than a quarter above the minimum wage -- I am both amazed and bemused to report my return to Watauga county's first local radio station. Here's the really funny part: I'll be making even LESS money than before!

Much has changed since I last walked those hallowed -- or should I say -- cigarette smoke-stained halls. I've raised hell in local politics, sold cable TV advertising, worked as a radio news reporter in a top-30 market, and made it to the final year of a Ph.D. program at the University of Tennessee. I've also become one of a very few individuals in the history of the county to be directly attacked in a Watauga Democrat editorial. My mom is very proud.

Several weeks ago, a group of Democrats petitioned the General Manager of Aisling Broadcasting, asking for at least a semblance of equal time after a former Republican Party chairman, Mr. Jim Hastings, had been offered a weekly show on WATA and WXIT. I think these Democrats learned a lesson about being careful what they wished for, because much to their surprise, the station's manager agreed to their request and suggested that they produce a show themselves. That's when my phone rang.

I have met with the station manager, and we have agreed that Watauga County does not need a polarizing, venomous, hard-line talk show. Mr. Hastings has promised civility, as have I. In my opinion, the radio industry has more than enough shows already that feature blowhards who are convinced that they've never been wrong about anything in their entire lives (other than possibly dependence on pain killers or efforts to keep their names off Viagra bottles). We don't need an extreme right-wing OR left-wing talk show -- which is good, because I don't believe I could pull either of these things off; I think too much.

So I am pleased to announce that "Watauga Talks" will air for the first time on Friday, June 30th at 9:15 on both WATA (1450 AM) and WXIT (1200 AM). Shelley Wainscott-Wallin and Kathleen McFadden will be my co-hosts, alternating weeks. Our guest on this week's show is Watauga County Commission Chairman Jim Deal, who has some fascinating insights on the nature of Watauga County politics, as well as updates on the Watauga High School issue, tax valuations, economic development and more. Due to scheduling issues, the interview with Jim Deal has been prerecorded, although in the future our guests will take your calls. (In case you're wondering, Commissioner Deal does comment on the County's having been named in two lawsuits against Sheriff Mark Shook.)

Let me emphasize that while the Hastings show is called "The Right Side," our show is not intended to occupy exclusively the left side of local issues. I consider myself a moderate Democrat, as do most of the Watauga County Democrats I know. Our interest is in delivering an informative show dealing with issues that matter to all Wataugans. We want the show to bring people together, not push them apart. We welcome your suggestions and participation. During the show, you can call 262-1567. Also feel free to leave comments here on this blog. Before long, we'll probably set up a website specifically for the radio show, so stay tuned.

See you on the radio!

Glenn T. Hubbard

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