31 On The Radio

31 On the Radioedit

“At the top of the hour, an update on the heavy rain and the flooding problems around town. Stay tuned to ‘Think Milwaukee.’ We’ll be right back after a word from our sponsor.”

The sponsor’s jingle was sung to the tune of ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee.’ An attempt, thought Guy as he heard it, to add gravitas to the firm’s image. If so, the words of the jingle belied that hope.

“We’re Horton, Hearst & Hough
All here to see you through
Your big lawsuit.
We’re smart guys in sharp suits
Ready to win you loot
We’re Horton, Hearst and Hough
Horton, Hearst and Hough.”

As the ad patter continued, the show host, Aimee Elise, switched off her mike and faced her guest.

“Guy, in this next segment, I’m going to ask tougher questions. I expect serious answers, provocative answers. That’s why I asked you on the show. We stimulate our listeners, not put them to sleep. Right?”

“Here to please, Aimee.” Privately hoping that the upcoming segment would not thereby lead him directly into the offices of Horton, Hearst and Hough to seek the refuge of their expertise, he sat, waiting. How many guests of the program had gone down that slippery slope, already?

“Water on tap today, on ‘Think Milwaukee.’ Lots and lots of water. We’re back with our guest, Guy Karon. Ferryman extraordinaire, and owner of The Shorter Way Home, Lake Michigan’s premiere back and forth, Wisconsin to Michigan service. Tell us Guy, what took you into the business?”

“Our family has always been in the ferrying business. Back in Greece where I was born, there are plenty of islands to go back and forth between over many seas. It seemed natural to stick to it when our family immigrated. Except here there are big lakes and big rivers to cross. Sounds today like people will be needing a ferry, or at least a raft.”

“The flooding is quite serious, in some areas. Once again, listeners, stay tuned for updates. And so Guy, the big lake was no challenge for your family?”

“Great big sea to great big lake? Of course, the challenges are different. Let me put it this way, our navigation system is a lot different than a rowboat gently navigating a stream. We handle a lot of passengers, their vehicles and cargo, on each trip. It’s a big operation, keeping the crossings safe.”

“And will there be enough density in a city of our size to support your business, dare I say it, over the long haul?”

“We draw from a larger area than just the city, of course, but yes, it takes a large population and one that’s willing to travel to support it, in the long run.”

“But you’re not in favor of a new development that will bring an influx of people to live downtown. Isn’t that counter-productive, from a business point of view?”

“It might be, but there are other considerations, too.” Aimee was making circular gestures in front of her face, demanding that Guy say more, put it on the line. “Not all development is appropriate, even if it adds a customer base.”

“And how’s that? This is a lighthouse, isn’t it? I’d have thought you’d be the first to applaud a nautical theme, maybe even work out a partnership of some kind? Free passes to new owners, that kind of promotion. Isn’t this in the city’s best interests?”

“This particular proposal may mimic a lighthouse but of course wouldn’t perform the function of one, so I’ve never taken that into account in my objections. I disagree strongly that this proposal is in the best interests of the city.” Aimee finally smiled in approval.

“Let’s talk about this. Especially in the current economy, why isn’t all development positive?”

“I believe that this proposed building is inauthentic, and I’m very familiar with authentic lighthouses. It pretends to be a blueprint into the past but that’s just a cover for an omnivorous, self-justifying monstrosity. We… that’s why I call it, ‘The Parody on Prospect.’

“The Parody on Prospect. Sounds like a musical. What do you think, listeners? Our lines are open to take your calls. And we’ll be right back, ready to hear from you.”Ā  Aimee gave Guy a thumbs up. “While we’re waiting for our callers, tell us who else objects, Guy?”

Seth Hough, POPS association attorney with the law firm Horton, Hearst, and Hough. Hough rhymes with 'Who'.

Seth Hough, POPS association attorney with the law firm Horton, Hearst and Hough. Hough rhymes with ‘Who’.

“More and more people, I believe, as details emerge about what’s planned. For instance, the developer wants to install a time-capsule with memorabilia from the original lighthouse. He wants to construct the new one around the old lighthouse. Seal it away. That’s not what I would term historic preservation. More like burying of history, to me. It’s certainly not the way the majority of lighthouses are restored around the country. What next? Actors on the tiny, planned public plaza portraying the lighthouse family, buckets of whitewash and brushes in hand?” Aimee was positively beaming.

“And is it just this particular proposal that you detest? What if a more conventional development were proposed for that site? I mean you live next door, isn’t that right? Is this simply self-interest?”

“So you might expect I’d especially want something wonderful next door, wouldn’t you? A restored lighthouse would be an interesting choice, don’t you think? Perhaps we could engage the preservationist community in that project.”

“Well, is that realistic? It’s zoned residential, isn’t it? And I don’t suppose that means a home for your lighthouse keeper’s family, does it?”

“Every proposal should be evaluated on its merits, surely. As should the credentials of any developer.”

“Are you suggesting then that there are no merits to this proposal? Or of this developer?” Guy paused, and grateful that this was a radio interview, not a taped or live TV one, and drew his hand across his throat, indicating to Aimee his wish for a break.

“And Guy will be back with answers to your questions, right after this important commercial break.” She killed their mikes.

“That was good, good. Liked the Parody bit.”

“I’m going to waffle on those last questions. Don’t want to end up with your lawyer sponsors, no matter how much I like your show. You can’t expect me to put myself in jeopardy.”

“Oh, but I can hope, can’t I?” She smiled and straightened back to her mike. “And we’re back with our first caller. Go ahead, please.”

“What about this developer? Is he any good?”

“This developer has been recognized by many in the city for his leadership in downtown development. Equally, he has experienced some setbacks and lawsuits, resolved and unresolved, as have other developers. My point is that each proposal should be evaluated.”

“Do a developer and his plan both deserve scrutiny?”

“The plan does. Let me step back in here and say that nothing should be taken carte blanche, based on earlier success or failure by any developer. If residents of developments previously constructed have run into difficulties with any aspect of it, the responsible developer must be subject to public scrutiny.”

“Caller, we have to cut this conversation short to bring listeners urgent flooding updates from our team of weather experts. Thank you, Guy Karon, for your candid and thought provoking remarks. Traffic reports, next. Stay with us for our next guest, here to talk about the deep tunnel improvements.”