FIFTEEN YEARS AGO TODAY
Fifteen years ago today the first Marc Steiner Show aired. Tuesday
March 3rd, 1993. It was a show on Norplant. There was a huge
controversy in 1993 on the use of Norplant as a contraceptive
administered by the city health department to mostly inner
city teenagers. Some argued that the long-term effects of the drug
were not known, others that the city had to do something to respond
the rates of teen pregnancy in the city.
So, there I was, bathed in fire on the air. Four guests, all women,
an hour and a half with no breaks. We started the show with a short
documentary that we produced on the subject. We did that a lot in the
first year of our show. I miss that.
Becoming a public radio host was total serendipity. In 1990 after
three years spent producing, directing and casting radio commercials for
an ad agency I longed to get back to something with some substance.
It was time to leave the world of selling white bread, beer, BMWs and
the lottery. I had learned a lot about producing and mixing sound,
music and voices for radio.
I had this idea for a thirteen part series on the History of Jewish
Music. I knew it was an idea that could work. So did David Creagh,
the General Manager of WJHU who gave me office space to work on the
idea. Well about a year later with some promises in hand and great
board of advisers, the project went belly up when the station ran into
some financial difficulties. It is still a great idea and I have
the proposal waiting in my files.
A couple of years later, in late 1992, I ran into Denis Kita at my
dentist’s office. Dennis had been Assistant General Manager when I
first met him. He was now the new GM of WJHU. We sat there in
the waiting room of Dr. Charlie Stine, who at that time was producing
and hosting a short program every week on the wonderful natural
wonders and histories found in our back yards. Charlie, besides
being my and Dennis’s dentist, had been my Dad’s best friend and my
natural history mentor since I was a young lad.
At any rate, Dennis Kita and I were talking in the waiting room when
he said to me “We are thinking about launching a public affairs
program at WJHU. You know this city so well from the street corners
to the corporate board rooms, I thought you might have some ideas.”
Well for some reason the first thing that blurted out of my mouth was
“You should let me be the host!” Dennis said but you don’t know
anything about radio. I said, ” What do you have to know? You
read, you talk and ask people questions. I do that at my dining room
table all the time.”
Well, poor Dennis, he opened the door. I would not let go. I hocked
him for months. Finally, one day when I was at the station, after
bugging him for months, he said “OK, here is your desk, here is your
phone, no money, no producer, I will take off All Things Considered
every Tuesday night from 7 to 8:30. That will be your time slot.
See what you can do.” I took it. And the rest is history. Well
there is much more to that history, but we’ll leave that for another day.
TEXAS OHIO VERMONT AND RHODE ISLAND
Tomorrow is a very critical primary day. Not for John McCain, he
has the Republican primary all sewn up. Well, then again it might
be important for him because what happens to Democrats internally, how
they behave towards one another and how they do or do not support one
another could have a profound effect on the November general election.
If they split Texas and Ohio or if Hillary Clinton wins them (lets not
forget Rhode Island and Vermont) then the race for the Democratic
nomination is still on. It could get quite volatile and nasty.
Texas with its weird primary/caucus blend might well not be decided by
tomorrow night. Lawsuits could erupt. The Democrats could commit
fratricide. You never know, it has happened before. The Democratic
front runners could easily decide it is not necessary for their party
to win the White House when they can let their egos rule the day
If Barack Obama wins then the Democrats would hope that Clinton would
not only bow out but also come out supporting Obama in a big way. If she doesn’t, then the wound could fester and hurt the Democrats in their quest
to regain the White House. If Barack wins, I hope she and Bill
Clinton can bow out gracefully with class, putting their party and
its beliefs ahead of personal animosity and ego.
The New York Times over the weekend had some very interesting stories
about the race. On Saturday, Jeffrey Rosen wrote an op-ed on civil liberties and the Democratic candidates. The article was making the point that Barack Obama was able to forge a working coalition in both the Illinois and US Senates between liberal civil
liberties advocates and conservative libertarians on everything from
police harassment actions to the far reaching aspects of the Patriot
Act. Rosen made the argument that the Clinton administration and
Senator Clinton’s record on civil liberties was, by comparison, questionable.
While the article said only about 20% of American voters care deeply
about civil liberties, it does not say how many care about their
liberties, or how many conservatives care about libertarian values.
I did not read how the question was asked in the polls but my sense is
that Americans have a visceral response to the ill defined notion
liberty. Civil libertarians and libertarians have much common
ENERGY SUITS WHO?
So, the state government beat Constellation Energy to the punch with a
lawsuit. The state says Constellation still has to reimburse
citizens for the rate increase. Constellation thinks that since the
legislature did not approve its merger with Florida Power and Light
then there is no deal to ameliorate the rise in rates.
While the state and the Constellation battle this out in the courts
there is a question that going unanswered by anyone. Steve Larson
does a great job. He wants to protect the consumer, but neither he
nor Constellation’s representatives ever answered the question I think
is the most critical when I posed it to them on my former show.
Is it true that Constellation Energy sold its energy cheaply out of
state then resold it back to BGE for a huge profit? What are the
inner workings and relationships of these two companies? One is
owned by the other yet we as citizens of this state reap no rewards
from this alleged economy of scale. There is a serious
investigation both in public hearings and state investigations that
must be had here. Where is it? Is it going on?
LOCK EM UP AND THROW AWAY THE KEY
It is unbelievable, but then again maybe not, that 1 in 100 adult
Americans are in jail.
This has its roots not just in Reagan and Bush the first but also in
Bill Clinton’s eight years. Clinton’s administration maxed out the
time to be served for crack cocaine, but not powder, remember? Who
snorts it and who smokes it?
That is not even the most important issue. People like Governor
Martin O’Malley have the power and the opportunity to do something
about this. We need to radically reform our juvenile and adult
justice systems. Put money at the front end, create a responsible
system of community corrections for non violent offenders, stiffen
sentences for violent offenders, create a prison system where non
violent offenders and those addicted are separated from violent
offenders into a system that offers job training, drug rehabilitation
America can become the leader in the new world green economy. In
the process we can transform our inner cities with work building the
new green economy and our infrastructure.
One in 100 is a frightening commentary on the future of America in the