What do Dead-End Radio, the Clarke Daily News, and the Barns of Rose Hill, have in common?
Here’s one possibility; The Barns of Rose Hill, Dead-End Radio, and the Clarke Daily News are all homegrown attempts to revitalize a fleeting and ephemeral quality called “local community” in this exceedingly lovely place that we call Clarke County, Virginia.
Prior to the late 1960’s you would have been hard pressed to find a small community that didn’t have a local opera house or theater, a local AM radio station. Nearly every small community had their own newspaper.
It turns out that local theater, radio, and newspapers were the underpinnings of what we caringly refer to as “community.” America has a lot of problems right now, but arguably, much of the mess that we’re currently in as a nation springs from a single issue; somewhere along the way the American public gave away the right to control its own destiny to Big Government and Big Money.
Dead-End Radio was an attempt by two very bright and entrepreneurial local high school students to provide Clarke County with a low-wattage community radio station. These two young men not only figured out how to broadcast using an antenna mounted on the top of a Berryville garage, they also had a sophisticated business plan for broadcasting local news and selling advertising spots.
Dead-End Radio was an asset to our community and I have no doubt that it would have been a financial success had it been allowed to continue. In fact, things were going pretty well for these two young broadcasting neophytes until a couple of guys showed up one day in Berryville in a car with U.S. government license plates. The two men ordered that Dead End turn of its broadcast transmitter.
The reason for the government-imposed radio shutdown?
It turns out that a “licensed” radio station, somewhere in West Virginia, complained that Dead End was “interfering” with the West Virginia station’s broadcast license. It may come as no surprise that radio broadcasting licenses aren’t cheap.
As they say, “Money talks.”
Dead End Radio transmitted from Berryville, Virginia which is in the geographic center of our county. I live on the very edge of the county. On many nights while driving home from a county or school meeting I often listened to Dead End Radio – sometimes for no reason other than I simply loved the idea that two high school kids could pull off something so innovative as their own radio station. However, by the time I reached my driveway my radio could barely pickup Dead End’s signal any longer. Given that Dead End’s signal strength probably covered all of ten square miles even on a clear day, the argument that it somehow was harming a West Virginia station that no one in Clarke County can even pick up, much less have interest in, is laughable.
But, back to the guys with the government vehicle…
The Dead End Radio boys protested the transmitter shut down order citing a World War II-era law that actually encouraged local radio initiatives. That said, the government agents told the boys, “If you don’t stop broadcasting you’ll be fined.”
Now, I’ve read the law that the boys relied on to operate Dead End radio and I believe that there is a basis for interpreting the law in their favor. But to fight Big Government only to have Big Government use your very own tax dollars to fight against you in court was a proposition that two high school students couldn’t begin to consider despite whether they were right or not.
You see, being “right” and doing what’s “right” for the local community apparently has little meaning when it comes to Big Government and Big Money interests.
Fast forward to the events of this weekend and another Big Government – Big Money attempt to derail an effort to rebuild our small community.
Do any similarities to the Dead End radio shutdown come to mind?
On a national level, the “Occupy You-Name-the-City” movement is an effort to regain control of this once-great nation of ours by the people. I say “once-great nation” because we are in severe decline not just financially, but socially, morally, and ethically as well. Much of America’s decline stems from Big Government and Big Money telling local government and local communities how they must act.
On a local level, the Barns of Rose Hill, Dead-End Radio, and the Clarke Daily News are efforts to strengthen our local community and reassert our local values into the broader social fabric of what we think of as the American way of life. The only way that we can regain America’s former world leadership position is if grass roots efforts in small communities like Clarke County are encouraged across the country.
I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of seeing our grass-roots efforts to rebuild our little corner of the American Dream stomped on by Big Government and Big Money.
The current abomination over the name “Barns of Rose Hill” is nothing more than Big Money supported by Big Government seeking to destroy the effort by a small town to do the very thing that every politician in Washington pays lip service to – Rebuild America.
Senator Warner, Representative Wolf, Delegate May, Senator Vogel, Representative Minchew, we’re having some success here in Clarke County “Rebuilding America” but an organization using our own tax dollars is attempting to erode the very effort that all of you say that you support.
Could you give us a hand?
Guys (and lady), we need your help here in Clarke County. We’re trying to rebuild here but it seems like every time we take a step forward some lawyer or bureaucrat using the threat of Big Government or Big Money tries to knock us off track.
Here’s the thing that you guys (and lady) may want to keep in mind. We’re the ones actually implementing the “Rebuild America” ideals that most of you say you support in Washington and Richmond.
So, if you guys (and lady) really support “Rebuilding America,” maybe we can work a deal together.
On Monday morning, if each of you guys (and lady) will give this other guy who runs this Big Government – Big Money place in Vienna that we here in Berryville have fondly begun referring to by its moniker – WTF – a call, I think that this silly name issue can be worked out pretty quickly.
If you do call the Big Government – Big Money guy at WTF I think that the message should go something like this;
“WTF is funded with tax dollars. In case you guys at WTF haven’t heard, the country is trying to rebuild after a pretty serious recession and we need more grass-roots efforts like the Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville, not less. So, why don’t you spend the $300K that this threatened lawsuit would cost on seeing if you can put together a really cool 60’s rhythm and blues revival or maybe a stronger country western program for the coming season. Or, maybe you could use the money to get that cello guy, Yo-Yo Ma? BTW, the analogy of the Big Bad Wolf blowing down a little barn in Berryville that’s spreading like wildfire through the social media sites is really bad for WTF’s public image. Can you send along the name of the genius who thought trying to intimidate a small local community using Big Money and Big Government was a good idea? The reason that I’d like the name is that I want to pass the name of whomever authorized this lawsuit along to my opponent in the next election in hopes that they’ll be hired as my opponent’s public relations spokesperson.”
And this, ladies and gentlemen of Clarke County, is why we need local news reporting. The fight between the Barns of Rose Hill and WTF, the silencing of Dead End radio, the influence of Big Government and Big Money are destroying our wonderful country and the American dream. The stories that Clarke Daily News reports may not get picked up by the major news networks but that doesn’t mean that the stories aren’t important. In fact, the success of the Clarke Daily News has been precisely because we DON’T cover stories like the War in Iraq, the Race for the White House or the Penn State Child Abuse story. Instead, CDN covers local stories where our community can have the most impact on improving the world – here at home where things aren’t controlled by Big Money and Big Government.
And that’s why we’re so angry about WTF.
The Clarke Daily News chose the name “Clarke Daily News” because, and I am not making this up, we report the daily news of Clarke County, Virginia. The Barns of Rose Hill chose its name because the barns being used for performances actually were part of an estate named – get ready because some will say that this is more than coincidence – Rose Hill.
So far, no one has asked the Clarke Daily News to change its name but I guess it may only be a matter of time before we hear from the Philadelphia Daily News, the New York Daily News, the Bowling Green Daily News, the Northwest Florida Daily News, the MidEast Daily News, the Jacksonville Daily News, the McKeesport Daily News, the Memphis Daily News or last, but not least, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.
In a way, we are hoping that Jon Stewart does get wind of the Clarke Daily News and its Big Bad Wolf reporting. Even though Mr. Stewart may ask us to change our name, can you imagine what he could do with the Barns of Rose Hill versus WTF story?