Editorial: Huffing and Puffing Won’t Dim Our Lights

What do Dead-End Radio, the Clarke Daily News, and the Barns of Rose Hill, have in common?

Give up?

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?



  1. this is great : )

    • overtheriver says:

      Well written and passionate, but the author (in addition to everyone else who hasn’t actually made the effort to do any research on the Wolf Trap Foundation) repeatedly categorizes Wolf Trap as big money, or corporate America, or big government blah blah, when The Barns at Wolf Trap is privately funded, privately owned, and holds ZERO connection to the National Park Service and the United States government. Why this issue has been so confused by everyone in the Berryville community is totally bizarre. To compare this issue to prior cases in which the government has interfered makes no sense. It’s a private organization vs. another private organization. No government involvement, no tax dollars at play, please try to understand this. This paper continues to be inaccurate and severely lacks the ability to fact check before publishing content.

      CDN Editor: Per the Wolf Trap website “The Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts houses about 100 performances annually from late May to early September, as well as a variety of education programs, artist master classes, special events, and a yearly Holiday Sing-A-Long for families and friends throughout the community.”

      • overtheriver says:

        Correct, that is the Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, which is housed on NPS land and is run as a joint partnership between the NPS and the Wolf Trap Foundation. The Barns at Wolf Trap is a completely separate entity, situated on separate land that receives no NPS assistance or government funding, is privately owned and funded by the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.

        • Dear Overtheriver,

          Please inform me, is the organization you mention a different organization than the one listed below?


          This Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts is a not-for-profit where the soon to retire CEO earns an annual $447k+
          Compensation of Leaders (FYE 12/2009)
          Compensation % of Expenses Paid to Title
          $447,832 1.70% Terrence D. Jones President, CEO

          I don’t know how we can help but be confused, OTR. Even the organization you most likely represent does not differentiate the “Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts” from “Wolf Trap” in general.

          The statement posted on the http://www.wolftrap.org site simply states WOLF TRAP.

          The statement reads as follows: “As you may have heard, Wolf Trap is currently involved in a trademark dispute….”

          Again, so there is no question, it simply states WOLF TRAP with no mention of the “Foundation.” Apparently, whoever posted this statement on the wolftrap.org site does not consider the “Foundation” a separate entity in this issue. It appears to me that even the group you more than likely represent, O.T.R. is apparently as confused as everyone else….

          On another note, since they made this statement on the wolftrap.org site, I wonder whose money goes to pay for this website? Does it belong to the “Wolf Trap” that DOES receive private and federal funding, or does it belong to the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts? Perhaps you can enlighten us further…

        • Bill Bell says:

          What about this?

          From WTFs website:

          “The Barns at Wolf Trap is owned and operated by the Wolf Trap Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by Congress.”

      • Well I guess if The Barns at Wolf Trap were suing The Barns of Rose Hill you might have a point but since the suit comes from the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, and as your own website says, “Wolf Trap is run through a public/private partnership between the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and the U.S. Department of the Interior” so your attempts to obfuscate come off just like the ridiculous trademark position you try to push out there like you are the poor victim here.

        I know you all think we are just dense country folks that don’t understand your metropolitan ways but I think the outcry flaring through modern media channels that you dropped the ball with tell a different story.

        Bur keep posting. We love dialogue. It’s the American way…

        • overtheriver says:

          Wrong again M, and once more a lack of research. The Filene Center is run through a partnership with the Department of Interior. Not The Barns or the Wolf Trap Foundation. I don’t think you are dense, you’re just blinded by anger and that is causing you and others to make generalizations that aren’t supported by any factual evidence. Reference J. Gibson’s post for further support of the facts.

          • That is interesting information you are disseminating however it is massaged to meet your goal of obfuscation, and I quote (again)

            The Foundation and National Park Partnership

            Wolf Trap is run through a public/private partnership between the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. The Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, creates and selects programming; develops education programs; handles ticket sales, marketing, publicity, and public relations; and raises funds to support these programs while keeping ticket prices affordable. The National Park Service maintains the grounds and buildings of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts and provides technical theater assistance for the Filene Center.

            Now you can try to sequester your Barns from the fray and you can say we receive no direct funds etc. etc. but the foundation undeniably is receiving real and direct benefit from a government organization. Remember who the plaintiff is, the Foundation. The Foundation saves money through their partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior (from your website) they save money over here, they have more money for over there.

            Even us simple country folks understand that.

            Further more through your partnership you get the benefit of looking like a government approved foundation and thereby have an easier time raising funds and deriving secondary benefits like free labor provided by Park Service volunteer programs that help with things (and I’m quoting again) http://www.nps.gov/wotr/supportyourpark/volunteer.htm

            * Passing out programs
            * Seating patrons
            * Driving carts from the parking lots
            * Helping patrons in and around carts
            * First-Aid
            * Scanning tickets at the gates
            * Helping at a clean-up event
            * Maintaining and revitalizing the landscape and grounds
            * Scouting projects
            * Filing, copying, and helping with office work

            Now that saves some bucks for the foundation who doesn’t have to pay for those positions and can then use that money for other activities….that shall remain nameless.

            This preferential relationship puts you in a position where you must be held accountable for your actions and we simply want the public and our elected officials to look beyond the spin.

            The government can’t be too careful about the partnerships they create, back and support. They are of course accountable to “We the People,” for this.

          • goodgracious says:

            the lawyer again? If the Barns AT Wolf Trap are partially supported by the Wolf Trap Foundation, they are part of the organization. The Barns OF Rose Hill is a barn restored by volunteers that took numerous years. It is located in what some quaintly refer to as bum f**k.
            It is no “threat” to your “foundation”

            And to attempt to trademark the use of The Barns is hysterical. So counsel, have at it.

      • Bill Bell says:

        From WTFs own website under About The Barns:: http://www.wolftrap.org/Learn_About_Wolf_Trap/History/Barns_History.aspx

        “The Barns at Wolf Trap is owned and operated by the Wolf Trap Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by Congress.”

  2. Wow…really? The Wolf Trap Foundation is “Big Government”? Ummm…no, it’s not. It’s a large non-profit arts foundation that, per its latest financials, brought in nearly $32 million and spent around $30 million and thus grew its net assets some $1.9 million. But it’s not “Big Government.”

    As for Dead End Radio, they were broadcasting without a license – i.e., playing outside the rules and the law as it is currently. To equate that with this Barns matter is a bit of a stretch.

    It’s op-ed bits like this, where you encourage the “WTF” angle in its frat-boy silliness, that cuts against the greater cause.

    • Dead End was literally a bunch of teenagers broadcasting their favourite songs to the maybe 15 people that listened to them. It was just for fun. They were still inside the laws, though it may have been a technicality, but then, what isn’t these days. It’s a shame when things that promote local community and are doing no harm get punished or shut down by a technicality. Sounds kind of like the Barns.
      I personally thought it was a fun, unique things to have in our town, license or not.

  3. Just an FYI. I was part of a “pirate” radio station when I was stationed at a remote location in the middle of Alaska in the late 80’s. We got tired of the lame music selection and DJ’s on Armed Forces radio, and since we had time in abundance up there, we took matters into our own hands. Unless something has changed, as long as the transmitter was under 1 watt in power, there’s not a thing the government can do about it.

    • In-the-Know says:

      T’would be interesting to know what was on your play list…

    • Cool to know! Our transmitter was 20 watts, and even 1 watt is currently illegal under part 15. Tight government regulation in response to NAB lobbying has prevented anyone without a lot of capital from starting a radio station.

  4. no interference says:

    So Dead End Radio was cool. Does that mean that I should be prevented from listening to 88.5 WAMU when in Berryville? Because that was the result of their broadcast. The FCC does a lot of bad things, but managing radio frequencies is a pretty necessary function IMO.

    • Hey there! After being contacted by several members of the community at my well-published email address and phone number (including on the FCC docs that I submitted), I consulted with an incredible mentor, asset, and master of all trades Mr. S Hall, and cranked a knob that I had so over-zealously turned to 11 o’clock originally down to a more reasonable eight. My audio amp was sending an overdistorted signal out that was deviating onto other bands. Fixed the interference for the last few months of operation. I could even get both NPRs (88.5 and 88.9) on my radios in my room right underneath the transmitter. Also, if the government didn’t have such an overbearing regulatory set governing the distribution of radio frequencies, it may have been possible for me to be compliant and purchase decent, non-interfering hardware.

  5. Phone calls may help . Since this seems all about the money, maybe a boycott of the Barns of Wolf Trap would be in order as well. Since “money talks”, mine and others can say “goodbye” WTF.

  6. Brian McClemens says:

    Amen !! Well Said .. I am 110 % Behind this !!!