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Doris writes a weekly column for LaGaceta, the nation's only trilingual newspaper, which has pages in English, Spanish, and Italian.  Begun in 1922 for Tampa's immigrant community, it continues to thrive more than a century later.  Her column is titled "In Context," as it aims to put contemporary issues in the context of the past.

Guys in Suits

If you listened to radio's "Prairie Home Companion," you know that Garrison Keillor regularly imagined throwing guys in suits off of cliffs.  Those most likely to be pushed were managerial sorts who were unkind artistic and intellectual sorts.  Righteous wrath always triumphed, as the businessmen who branded themselves with suits and ties could be heard screaming as they fell to the rocks below.  Craig Kopp, the newish general manager of WMNF Radio, doesn't appear to be wearing a suit in his Linked-In profile picture, but his attitude seems to be the same as that of guys in suits:  he appears to believe that his managerial role gives him the right to threaten thoughtful newscasters.  Or maybe his firing of community radio hero Rob Lorei is just plain jealousy.


Let me put this in context, going all the way back to the 1970s.  I was a founding member of NOW (National Organization for Women) when it began here.  No local television station had any female presence on the news.  (Yes, that is hard to believe now.)  After we sued the CBS affiliate Channel 13, they settled out of court and hired Tampa's first woman in this role.  Part of the settlement was an advisory board that would meet regularly with the station's management to offer input on issues of importance to women.  Not surprisingly, that manager -- very much a guy in a suit -- resisted our ideas.  He even objected to my suggestion of PSAs (public service announcements) to remind people that elections were coming up, and voters have to register thirty days prior.  Somehow he interpreted this as a communist plot.


But we feminists hung in and things changed.  I think a major factor in his attitude was after I had presided over a board meeting that ended at 5:00 PM and gave birth to our daughter at 5:00 AM.  He seemed to see that as little short of a miracle, and he started to view female employees with a new light.  It took only one meeting with Channel 8, an NBC affiliate, for them to begin hiring women in on-air roles, and by the time that sportscaster Gayle Sierens was pregnant on the screen, the whole town celebrated with her.


These things tie together because it was at one of those advisory board meetings that I first heard of people who were going door-to-door in South Tampa, collecting donations to create a community, non-commercial radio station.  Of course Channel 13's manager thought this was a hilariously hippy idea that never would come to fruition, but it did.  WMNF Radio began in Hyde Park in 1978 and soon moved north to an impressive studio on MLK.  Tens of thousands of people contributed, but no one worked harder and longer than Rob Lorei.


He has been the face of WMNF for forty years – and was given fifteen minutes to clear out his desk.  Countless listeners have objected, and by the time you read this, the issue may be resolved.  I hope so.  If not, I'll join a picket line or do whatever it takes to bring sense to the board that allowed this kind of obtuse management.  Everyone who has an inkling of news coverage in this area knows that Rob is at the very top of objectivity, courtesy, and original information.  As one of many Facebook posters said, his firing is "simply unacceptable."  I agree.  And I'm looking for a cliff.


While I'm Ranting about Media…


         Back in the day when East Hillsborough was little more than fens and bogs, I remember calling the then-St. Petersburg Times to urge them to expand their delivery area, an idea they quickly rejected.  Hubby and I subscribed to both the Tampa Tribune, a morning paper, and the Tampa Times, an afternoon paper – but they were too conservative for us.  The Tampa Times closed when afternoon papers went out of style, but I believe its right-wing editorials were another factor.  I do give it credit for publishing more feminist news than the Tribune did; NOW's stories reliably could be found at the back, next to the obituaries.


         After the St. Pete Times did start delivery in the Brandon area, we read both it and the Tribune – until Mother Trib's owners sold out, something that I still mourn.  Of course we kept our subscription to what now is the Tampa Bay Times.  And still do, despite unfortunate changes in its most important section, the comics.  "Nancy" instead of "Doonesbury?"  Who do they think their audience is?  "Nancy" was funny when I was in the fourth grade, but that's been a while.


         The reason for this rant, though, is the insult to a reliable reader that happened recently.  For several years now, I have been pleased to see the Daily Buzz, edited by longtime political reporter Adam Smith, come in on my computer screen in the late afternoon.  I almost always click on a couple of his four or five stories because, even though they probably will be in tomorrow's print edition, I can read them a few hours earlier.  So recently, about mid-month, I clicked on something and a message came up telling me that I had exceeded this month's reading time and should subscribe.


         After recovering from this audacious advice, I sent an e-mail to Adam.  As always, he responded promptly and forwarded my message to the appropriate new guy over there, Executive Editor Mark Katches.  I suggested that they could avoid insulting their longtime customers by simply cross-checking the databases of their print and digital subscribers.  A week has passed, and I still can't read the expanded stories behind Adam's digital headlines, nor have I heard from Mr. Katches.  Somehow I'm not surprised, as our community loses more and more of our sense of self to profit-minded guys in suits.  We need more cliffs.


Quick Thoughts


·      I'm not going to support Bernie Sanders for president – I didn't last time – but I have a suggestion for him.  Every time someone decries him as a socialist, he should ask how they like Social Security.  It's the same root, and Republicans complained about it for a long time after Democrats enacted it in the 1930s as part of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal.  Now that many conservative voters depend on Social Security, Republicans don't talk much about that.

·      It's way too soon for decisions about the Democratic nominee in 2020, but because several people have asked for my thoughts, here they are.  As a Democrat who wants to win and also is realistic about the fact that we won't yet have switched to a popular-vote system, here's the deal re the women.  We win California anyway, so Kamala Harris can't help us there, excellent though she may be.  Ditto with Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.  That leaves Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and I like her vow to bring Midwestern states back to the Democratic Party.

·      Of the guys, as an over-the-hill person myself, I hate to say it, but Joe Biden and Bernie, your time has passed – and besides, you come from states with three electoral votes.  Julian Castro and Beto O'Rourke should run to spread their Hispanic message, but neither has won even a statewide election and should not expect the nomination.  Michael Bloomberg will go nowhere; we've had enough of New York billionaires.  Of the serious contenders, that leaves Corey Booker, and the same argument for the good women above applies for a guy from New Jersey.  And although he might be fine, I have to say that it would pain me to have two black men as president prior to any woman.



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