Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:
I am writing with regard to Richard Byrne's article "Dan Deal" (RFT, Dec. 16). I thought it was a good article. I also think that Dan Dierdorf will have a positive impact on content and ratings for the KTRS morning show.

The comment in the article that I disagree with is the one that places Dan Dierdorf unequivocally second only to Bob Costas in the most prominent broadcast voice living in the St. Louis area list. In making that list, I think you must consider Jack Buck and should also consider Joe Buck.

His years as the voice of the St. Louis baseball Cardinals, his years on the CBS Radio Monday-night football broadcast with Hank Stramm, his time with the CBS Television baseball game of the week and his induction into the Hall of Fame make Jack Buck at least in the running for second in the list.

Joe Buck, in the past few years, has hit the national television-viewing population from several different angles. In the past few years, Joe has anchored Fox's new Goin' Deep sports-news magazine, done play-by-play on Fox football telecasts, done Fox studio NFL updates (when the regular studio team is on assignment), hosted Fox's Daredevils special, been the No. 1 play-by-play person on Fox's baseball game of the week, been the No. 1 play-by-play person on one All-Star game, been the No. 1 play-by-play person on two World Series telecasts and been the No. 1 play-by-play person on the most historic event in modern baseball history, Mark McGwire's 62nd home run. Joe's variety in projects presents him to a wide range of sports fans.

OK, I am a little biased. I grew up listening to Jack Buck do Cardinal baseball games, I am a baseball fan before I am a football fan, and I think that Joe Buck has one of the best (if not the best) combinations of knowledge, voice quality, wit and general on-air savvy on sports television today.

Robert J. Minkler Jr.


To the Editor:
I want to thank you for the article about the Missouri Division of Family Services ("Our Fine Folks in the Field") in your Nov. 18 issue.

On a more positive note, how about an article on the success stories from recipients and businesses' perspectives?

Some important statistics (data courtesy of the Urban Institute):
* Fifty-eight percent of the adult welfare population have completed high school or a higher level of education.

* Over two-thirds of women on welfare have recent work experience.
* Forty-two percent of all families on welfare receive benefits for less than two years.

I am involved in my agency's welfare-to-work initiatives, as well as North County Cares (Community Access to Resources, Education and Services). North County Cares has more than 150 community leaders engaging in summits concerning the impact of welfare reform on the North County community. Our next summit is scheduled for Feb. 5 at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley.

Nationally, there is a Welfare to Work Partnership. The CEOs of United Airlines, Burger King, Sprint, Monsanto and UPS joined to form the Partnership in 1996. Welfare-to-work is a smart solution for businesses. As the economy grows, unemployment goes down and the labor pool shrinks. By including welfare recipients, companies can expand their pool of entry-level workers. Tax credits and other financial incentives are also available. In addition, business partners are invited to participate in Partnership events around the country, including "city challenges" conferences and award ceremonies. I encourage businesses in the community to hire one or more recipients. Everyone deserves an opportunity. For more information, contact the Welfare to Work Partnership by calling 888-USA JOB 1, or visit their Web site at www.welfaretowork.org.

Dawn Sweeney, LCSW
Case Manager
St. Louis County Family Mental Health
North County Center


To the Editor:
What courage and insight Robert Hunt showed by choosing a Jackie Chan film, Who Am I?, as one of his favorite/best films of 1998 ("1998: The Year in Film," RFT, Dec. 30). I truly admire him for this, as I'm sure he faces ridicule from his peers and others as a result of doing the right thing. Certainly most movie critics would never give any credit to any film done by Mr. Chan -- it is high time someone with a "name" in the local media recognizes what I have known since first seeing his work, way back in 1979 (Drunken Master) that Jackie is the most gifted of actors/martial artists/action choreographers/stuntmen/comedians/ directors to ever appear on a movie screen anywhere in the world, and one who will literally and figuratively put his life on the line to satisfy his fans and to make one of his films. While he now does this for big money, it wasn't always so, as he risked life and limb to make art his way for many years before gaining recognition in Asia alone.

The movie you mention, Who Am I?, shows him doing each one of the talents mentioned above in a classy, nonstop, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that anyone in Hollywood would love to be able to try and make. I find it very refreshing that Mr. Hunt has the balls to speak his mind in print.

Steven Munari


To the Editor:
You've Got Mail (reviewed in the Dec. 16 issue of The Riverfront Times), the new romantic comedy with Meg Ryan as Kathleen Kelly, the owner of an independent children's bookstore, and Tom Hanks, whose character's superstore is located around the corner from Kelly's shop on New York City's Upper West Side, touches on the larger (and most pressing) issue facing bookselling today: the loss of independents caused by the Wal-Martization of yet another industry.

While many people have heard the expression "bookstore wars," few have a clue to the fact that it's more than just the big fish eating the little fish, to use a food-chain image. As publishers base their print runs on the orders of a couple of chains, the power to decide what gets published and in what quantity gets concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer. When these few buyers for the chains place initial mega-orders for what are sure to be bestsellers (Tom Clancy, Danielle Steel, et al.), fewer publisher dollars go into the promotion and production of works by first-time and midlist authors. This is not to say that there's anything inherently bad about bestselling authors; after all, what makes them bestselling in the first place is that many people buy their books! But the publishing industry by its nature is, in large part, responsible for the dissemination of knowledge via many voices and points of view, and when this is reduced, we all suffer.

The movie doesn't address the issue of "unfair and illegal business practices," about which 26 independent bookstores across the nation have filed suit against the two largest chains, alleging "secret and illegal deals" with publishers, but this may be outside the purview of a movie that deals with these questions not to offer answers but to promote the plot.

Who knows? Maybe even such a cursory look at this topic will result in some change in the public's consciousness.

Melissa Elizabeth Dooley


To the Editor:
The feigned indignation by the politicians and the media over the president's sexual behavior is wasted, for the most part, on the public because we know what goes on between consenting adults behind closed doors. This is not to say, however, that we approve of everything. All one has to do is turn on the "boob tube" and get a bird's-eye view of every kind of sexual behavior imaginable. America is so obsessed with sex that it borders on fanaticism. It's as though the floodgates were opened and we've become inundated by sex. So what's the big deal about the president's behavior? Since he is the leader of the country, shouldn't he be called "chief hedonist"? It seemed of little importance to those politicians that they have made America the laughingstock of the world. Sensing the possibility of gaining some political leverage from the situation, they pounced on the president with the ferocity of a bunch of sharks in a feeding frenzy. Thus, blinded by partisanship, they willingly sacrificed the dignity of America on the altar of political expediency and made of America a joke.

Warren B. Sentchaas

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