Straight Talk | No more Peoria history



Our good friend Norm Kelly is gone, another victim of cancer. A few months ago, I wrote about my high school friend and his special writing accomplishments. I did it then because he told me he was not long for this world. He was right. Friday, Aug. 7, we spent almost the full three hours of our show in remembrance of Norm ending with an interview with retired physician Dr. Don Rager.

Dr. Rager was a 1950 classmate of Norm’s at Woodruff High School. Much later in their lives, the former medical director at St. Francis Hospital hired Norm as his administrative assistant. The two became quite close friends. And that’s the way it was with Norm. He valued his friendships.

With the passing of the talented writer, we’ve lost another community icon. There’s no one left who was born, raised and educated in Peoria to write about the city’s past. No one. Norm didn’t write headline stories. He didn’t make absurd assertions or inflammatory personal claims. He just wrote about people and events in a way that brought them alive again.

So he’s gone. No visitation or funeral service, he commanded, said his loving wife, Gloria. On the other hand, she said there will be a memorial service in September. We’ll be there.

A waste of $5 million

Gov. JB Pritzker is doing the best he can to battle the coronavirus, but he made a foolish decision to spend $5 million in tax dollars to advertise in the media for people to wear masks when in public. The intent is admirable. The decision is not. The Ad Council is already running free public service announcements on TV. Many stations have been doing the same with their own messages. Radio stations, especially those with a “talk” format, have urged the wearing of masks. The FCC could’ve urged or perhaps even ordered radio and TV stations to program the messages as Public Service Announcements.

Frankly speaking, there was no need for the governor of a state dripping in red ink to spend millions to “spread the word” about masks. And those stations that received a tax paid gift of advertising should return the money and do it as a public service. One could wonder whether Pritzker spent the money to curry favor with the media while looking like a hero at the expense of our purses and billfolds. Just a thought no one has raised.

Media reports

WAOE-TV, Channel 59, Comcast Channel 914, has been managed by Quincy Media, but no more. The Quincy, Ill., company owns TV stations in 16 markets including WEEK and WHOI, but is terminating the agreement to operate WAOE. What’s next for WAOE? I have no idea.

The 10th Annual White Trash Bash held Saturday, Aug. 1, made it to the Newsweek web site. Much of the story focused on guys and gals not wearing masks and failing to observe social distancing. Apparently, the story was sent by some local media folks to embarrass Peoria, though it took place on the East Peoria side of the river.

Speaking of Channel 31, they reported Sunday, Aug. 2, that Mayor Jim Ardis had announced he will seek re-election. Perhaps he will, but he has not announced officially or unofficially his decision. The WMBD-TV story failed to quote a source. I spoke with Jim a few days earlier and he said no decision had been reached. Don’t be surprised if he decides not to run again for Mayor, but Ryan Spain does. Rumor is Ardis and Spain could change offices if voters agree.

There seems to be constant change in personnel at our local TV stations, especially on-the-air talent. About the time you get comfortable with someone, they’re gone, replaced by another new person. An exception to that is the hiring of Yvonne Greer. She hosts CI Newsday on Channel 31 and does it with style, charm and professionalism, reflecting her past on-camera experience. We need more like her.

Steve Tarter retired from writing assignments at the Peoria Journal Star sometime ago. The former public relations director for the Mass Transit System is now writing for WCBU-FM and you can see his work on occasion at the Bradley station’s news web site. The articulate Tarter, never at a loss for words, was last seen interviewing people on PJS podcasts. The newspaper over the years has tried to get into the radio business twice without much success. Maybe broadcasting on the Internet to the “troops” will work. (Inside joke.)

The local news folks really got it wrong in the reporting of a single car fatal accident in Bartonville. Everyone, including this writer, said the woman driver, in her mid and then late 40’s, was killed. The 56-year-old woman was not the driver. It was a 16 year old. We corrected the story with an admission the early details were wrong. Others in the media did not. As Joe Biden would say, “Come on guys.”

Since 2002, our morning radio show has done something no other Peoria station does. We provide free time for candidates for public office to discuss why they’re running for election and why people should vote for them. We’ve been doing it again this year. Just another reason to join the growing audience on FM 90.7’s “Breakfast with Roger and Friends.” Candidates on both sides of the river and political aisle have already appeared as guests.

To book an appearance, call me at 397-1458, but not during the 6-9 a.m. show, Monday through Friday.

Quote of the month

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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