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Talk, Talk, Talk Radio

EVERYONE possessed of erudition should aspire to elevating the public culture, but will find it a frustrating effort. It has long been my desire to remove ``you-know'' from the bright lexicon of America, and my recent effort has been rebuffed. I wrote a letter to a radio station. I see no harm in being specific - to Radio WRKO in Boston. This heroism on my part calls for a bit of explanation. Radio WRKO broadcasts the baseball games of the Boston Red Sox. Otherwise, it is what the station itself calls a ``talk'' station - people telephone and carry on conversations with an omniscient host who, if a caller gets the better of him, can close things off in a hurry with his ``Thanks for the call....'' So, back along when the Red Sox had a winning streak of one game and looked as if they might finally beat somebody, I took to switching on my shop radio to listen to WRKO, afternoon games. While I puttered, Wade Boggs would strike out in the ninth, bases loaded and two gone. Fortunately, most of the state of Maine is beyond the reach of the WRKO signal, but here at tidewater the station booms in over the Gulf of Maine and my ancient National receiver brings it in 5-9-9.

So now and then for a day game I would come to my shop after the noontide nutritional nonce, lay out some priceless antique I had started the day before from scratch, and tune the radio. Otherwise, I do not listen to radio much. Here in Maine we have the happy choice of country music, but nobody tells me which country and who said music. We did have a classical music station that was a delight, but the business community didn't care a hoot about me and gave its support to country music. I presume it considers high school dropouts a better market than esteemed citizens who own their homes, keep three automobiles, and winter in the Islands. So the classical music station shifted to country music, blah-blah-blah, 24 hours a day. We do have ``public'' radio, programmed by the state university, but I prefer silence to the cultural piffle that prevails between Bachs.

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So it happens that I listen to WRKO as much as I do any radio station. Having tuned to WRKO, I sandpaper until the game starts, and after the game is over I don't always turn the set off until I tidy for evensong at day's end. So I do hear some of the ``talk,'' and it's pretty bad.

The big bad is ``you-know.''

``Good afternoon,'' says the host, ``you're on WRKO!''

So the caller begins to tell what he thinks of Dukakis, you know, and how he voted for him, you know, but he'd never vote for him again, you know, and it's terrible the way taxes climb, you know. True, as a listener I share somewhat that opinion of the Duke, but give the Guv credit - I never heard him say you-know.

The Sox didn't play all that many day games, so my shop project last summer lingered. I've been making a silver chest for Maddy, one of my lady friends, and while I usually make silver chests of pine I'm doing this one in white cedar. Maddy's husband runs a sawmill that specializes in cedar, and just about all the furniture Maddy has is made from cedar. I think the chest will be special when it's finished, but it will take some time yet. I may finish it for Christmas, but Maddy and her husband winter in Florida so she won't see it until spring. So I was subjected to all these Boston you-knows, and couldn't help noticing.

I'm sure this bombardment of you-knows would be less shameful if it was aired in Omaha, Atlanta, and Toledo. But Boston? Boston is the Hub of the Erudite Universe, the Athens of America. Handy is Harvard, you know, and MIT, and Tufts, and Boston College, and Brandeis, and Boston University, and Bentley College. Boston has the oldest public school in America. So I meditated on you-knows, and I wrote my letter to the program manager of Radio WRKO. I suggested they start a war on you-knows. Any caller who says you-know while on the air will immediately be cut off with ``thanks for the call.'' That's it. One you-know and good-bye, you know. Just think how rapidly the ``listening'' audience would become aware of iggerance and stop the you-knows!

After the Sox lost four in Chicago I did less shop work and began splitting my woodpile, so I'm not sure if WRKO applied my suggestion. The program manager didn't answer my letter, you know.

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