Friday, September 17, 2010

1959: TV 's marching through Georgia

They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

-- Steely Dan

From the June 29, 1959, edition of Broadcasting magazine, we have printed evidence that the 1950s were a strange era, and stranger yet south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

I can understand mythologizing a lost rebellion in defense of a discredited institution and exploitation as a way of life -- I am from the Deep South, after all. I suspect people in the Balkans understand this primal impulse as well.

WHAT I'M more loathe to understand is the use of the Lost Cause and a catastrophically failed military adventure as fodder for an advertising campaign . . . one ostensibly intended to convey the notion that you're conquering a market and winning sales for your advertisers. I mean, really?

For a TV station in . . . Georgia?

Why not just bang out some ad copy along the lines of this?
We're WRBL -- Wee ReBeL in Columbus -- and our half-starved, underequipped (and underage) advertising staff is going to run out of ammunition right when you need it most and let your competition blaze through Georgia just like Sherman's army!
WELL, maybe it sold some fried chicken for Lester Maddox up in Atlanta.

Probably all catering jobs for Klan rallies.

1 comment:

Russell W. said...


PS - There was more than one Rebel batallion in Columbus, Jawja ... Wee Rebel might've been the mighty CBS affil ... but around that time, the 5 kW blowtorch at 540 KC, WDAK, was rocking out, and calling itself "BIG Johnny Reb" (using Stan Freberg's 'rebel yell' bit in their legal ID).

PS2 - WRBL wouldn't be the only VHF for long. A realignment of channels in 1960 shoehorned another V into the market -- WTVM flipped from channel 28 to 9. And the shuffle THAT created necessitated a move for WRBL, and they moved next door to channel 3.