I am incensed over John Sewell's journalistic irresponsibility in his presentation of the 'facts' regarding the seeming improprieties in the operation of WDVX ["Heavy Static," Vol. 9, No. 35]. You blatantly misrepresent the facts to your readers when you write that I "did not respond to requests for comment." As I trust Mr. Sewell will confirm, no effort was ever made to contact me. And since that was the case, I'll take the opportunity to make a statement.
First, as a player and lover of acoustic music, I'm an ardent listener of WDVX. Secondly, I consider the continued growth and financial support of the station to be a wonderful thing for our region. However, in my letter of resignation tendered in January, 1999, I indicated that I felt that under Tony Lawson's management, "there are disenchanted staff, alienated volunteers, unhappy underwriters, and musicians and promoters suspicious of the station's policies." In reading Mr. Sewell's article, it would certainly sound as if these issues remain largely unresolved. These, coupled with some fundamental differences with other board members in terms of respective levels of involvement, and a need for what I felt should be a more diverse board, lead me to my position.
I also take umbrage with Mr. Chasteen's remark that "after Jack O'Hanlon resigned, I became privy to some information that I couldn't swallow." Perhaps taken out of context, but I read that as my holding some trove of secreted information, unavailable for view by anyone but me. I think in the interest of objective investigative reporting, that Mr. Sewell include a clarification on the statement.
Rather unfortunately, it seems controversy has swirled about Tony Lawson and WDVX almost since its inception. Whether the seeming improprieties at WDVX are real or perceived, I would strongly urge the board to minimize even the suggestion of this, by asking Tony Lawson to step down as a board member. His should be a role that exercises his creative bent, not a managerial one.
As for your investigative efforts, I have generally been impressed by Metro Pulse's thoroughness in reporting most sides of a story. You need however, to get all the facts.
Ed. Note:In writing our first piece on WDVX earlier this year, John Sewell did indeed call Mr. O'Hanlon several times (to which he received no response); another effort should have been made for this latest article, for which we apologize. Otherwise, had we known of the resignation letter, we certainly would have tried to obtain a copy and quote from it. And finally, no intimation of withheld secret information on Mr. O'Hanlon's part was intended.
Nice smear job, Metro Pulse! So, what's the point?!?
Stated in your in-depth story entitled "Heavy Static," you said that "20 different attempts over the past week to contact treasurer Don Burggraff by phone failed." This sure looks like a cover-up to me!
Many people know (even your credible sources) that my day job is at a popular network-affiliated TV station whose telephone number is BOLDLY displayed in the phone book. Our switchboard operator is very faithful in tracking me down; and taking messages when needed. Before, during, and after my end-of-June vacation, there was not one message for me. Pager display had not shown unusual activity either. At my house, there is no answering machine or computer. Instead, a 60-event caller ID should have displayed multiple attempts to contact me: There were none. Could there be an electronic conspiracy here? As your article has misspelled my name (Burggraf is correct) can I therefore assume that you dialed the correct telephone number? I am so confused.
Let's get to the facts (no more innuendoes, allegations, etc.). I have been associated with WDVX as a volunteer grunt since 1993. I was voted onto the Board of Directors in September 1996 in an eleventh-hour last-ditch attempt to pull this project out of the enormous quagmire it was bogged down in. The problems, as I perceived them were threefold: (1) political problems against and amongst members of the Board, (2) technical and logistical matters of the physical plant, and (3) financial inadequacies and debts owed to communications professionals (attorney and engineer) that exceeded $10,000 in just pushing the paperwork through the Washington D.C. bureaucracy.
WDVX is a 200-watt non-commercial station that shares the airwaves with commercial mass-appeal powerhouse stations; and with non-commercial University, state, and religious stations. We prefer to think of ourselves as non-comm radio for the hard-working people of this region whose Appalachian heritage is to be celebrated and shared with others without denial or shame. WDVX operates on donations from individual contributors and from underwriting funds provided by local business. We accept NO monies from political and religious groups, state or federal government, or the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Our expenses include salaries, wages, contract business manager, monthly tower rent and utilities, studio phones, heating etc. We operate this station on a fraction of what most commercial and non-commercial stations operate with. Our public file has been on display at the Clinton Public Library (during library hours) for public viewing since 1996.
In conclusion, I must insist that one thing be made clear: WDVX HAS LITTLE TO SHOW; AND WE HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE.
Treasurer, Board of Directors
Cumberland Communities Communications Corp.
Ed. Note: John Sewell called Mr. Burggraf dozens of times over a six-week period at his home phone number, with redoubled efforts in the last week before finishing the story; none of his other sources were able to identify Mr. Burggraf's place of employment. Also, the spelling of Mr. Burggraf's last name was given to the reporter by station manager Tony Lawson; we should have cross-checked it with the telephone directory, and for that we apologize.
Special Bonus Letter!
Gosh darn it, we do love getting mail from our readers but we just can't print it all. Sometimes the missives are unsigned, run too long, don't relate to any of the issues we usually cover, or verge on the loopy. Rather than let these bits of personal expression go unread, we will now start posting them here. Enjoy!
An Open to Letter to My Father
Joe DiMaggio died earlier this year. It's funny I never met him, never saw him play, never shook his hand but yet I knew him. Even though he was from a different era, a different time and a different place, I knew him. I knew him through you, and the stories you told me about him. He was touchable. You and I identified with him. Except for the skill level we could've been him. Strange how we seem to know and appreciate the heroes of yesteryear better that the athletes of today. Today those stories make me yearn for a more innocent time. A time when sports could be enjoyed by a father and a son without talk of contract disputes, the relevancy of free agency, and holdouts. I am not an old man by any means, but I remember those times.
We played basketball in the yard on Tuesdays, when Mom went to her social sorority meetings. We ate hotdogs. You bought us jerseys. Mine was number 2. They didn't have the new team logo on them, they didn't cost $80.00 and I wouldn't have traded mine for one that did. The hotdogs you bought us were three for a dollar. Even in the cheapest major league park you'd be hard pressed to buy one hotdog for three bucks. I enjoyed sports more then than I ever have since Fox decided we needed two sports channels that suck twelve hours of the day.
Who'd a thunk it. That one day MTV would suck and VH1 would be cool. My how times change and yet, it's strange that you and I really haven't. You still complain that the headphones are too loud. I still listen to most of the music I listened to when I was growing up just as you do. Guess I'll forever be a Van Halen guy trapped like a rat in a gangster rap neighborhood.
Back to sports. Isn't it amazing how everyone thinks the era they grew up in produced the best athletes. I'll forever think Magic and Bird were better than Jordan just as you think Wilt was better than Shaq (I agree with you on that one, by the way). The numbers bear us both out, but nobody in today's tabloid society would believe us. I think we're both surprised that Phil Knight isn't running for president with Don King on the ticket for VP.
Why is it so important to make $15 million instead of $14 million. You are one of the most successful people I know yet you've never equated how much you make with how much you're worth. As I've grown up, that fact alone has made realize how much more of a man you are than all of the spoiled babies we've watched on TV through the years.
Ya know I just figured out why I like watching the local high school baseball team. No kid makes a million dollars, and all of them are glad to see the fans after the game. Even is its just their parents. So what if they need five bucks to go eat with their teammates. At least they eat with their teammates, and five bucks wouldn't even get you an autograph with today's pros. Imagine that, athletes appreciative of their fans. What a concept.
What are we to do. Could you imagine us sleeping, me on the couch, you in the chair during a game seven during the Bird-Magic era. I can't either. But that has become our pastime sleeping during "major" sporting events. But who can blame us. Who outside of New York and Miami wants to watch Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning play basketball. Neither can play without traveling on every play, and they're both goofy, slow and painful to watch. No wonder we sleep. They're boring.
So what are we to do. Watch golf. I'm not that bored. Well, Dad, if you happen to wake up before I do during the fourth quarter, do me a favor and change the channel.