Letters: Re: Updated: WBOX Radio Negotiate to Stay On Air

Published 3:13 pm Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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Re: Updated: WBOX Radio Negotiate to Stay On Air Amid FCC Financial Dispute. Feb. 20, Bogalusa Daily News

It is heartening to learn in the recent Daily News column (Updated: WBOX Radio Negotiate to Stay On Air Amid FCC Financial Dispute. Feb. 20) that negotiations are proceeding between WBOX and the FTC to prevent a shutdown of that venerable radio station because of its unpaid FTC registration fees. All should hope that the negotiations succeed.

WBOX has provided 72 years of continuous service to Louisianians in Washington-St. Tammany Parish and beyond.  Taking it off the air now would be another example of the nationwide fizzling of small town radio stations due in part to loss of advertisement dollars, increased use of the internet for news, music and ads, and waning community support.

WBOX should be treasured not only for serving the community since 1952, but also because of the courageous role it played during the 1964-5 civil rights period, when its owner-manager, Ralph Blumberg, condemned the Ku Klux Klan on the airwaves.  Blumberg also formed a committee with five other citizens, including Lou Major, editor of the Daily News, to mediate between the city administration and the Black ‘Bogalusa Civic and Voters League’ in their quest for equal treatment.   But Bogalusa Mayor Jesse Cutrer with the assent of Governor McKeithen prevented this initiative, and racial mayhem overtook the city.

For his efforts, Blumberg and his family were hounded by the Klan, employees at WBOX left, advertising clients fled, the station transmitter was destroyed, and the station’s lease was canceled, forcing it to relocate to smaller quarters. Ultimately, Blumberg sold WBOX and left Bogalusa with his wife and children.  He became an honored journalist in New York City and testified nationwide and before Congress against the Klan.

Stanley I. Rapoport, M.D.
Washington, D.C.