Tuesday, February 20, 2007
  The LDS Jerusalem

Haven't been in a blogging mood for a few days ... terrible weather, and some dull but paid work.

Today NRO is discussing the LDS views on New Jerusalem in the context of Mitt Romney's sudden fall from stellar status. Reminds me of a rare and probably obsolete bit of information.

Back in 1962 I was considering radio as a career; I did a sort of student internship at K-State's low-power student practice station, and visited some other stations.

At that time my favorite uncle worked at KMBZ in Kansas City, which was quietly owned by the Mormons but not operated as a religious station. My uncle showed me some of the internal details at KMBZ. He showed me the Conelrad stuff, which I was already familiar with from my K-State practice: the big red button and the scary tapes pre-recorded by Kennedy to give the impression that our flag was still there after Washington had been turned into a glowing crater by Soviet bombs.

My uncle showed me something unexpected as well. Alone among American radio stations, KMBZ had a second emergency setup. This was not designed for nuclear apocalypse; it was for the return of Jesus, which was going to occur in Independence, just east of KC. The whole reason for owning KMBZ, in other words, was to have a station ready to cover the New Jerusalem!

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Overall, I'm sad to see Romney losing track of his chief advantage. His absolutely unique quality among modern politicians is a talent for speaking clearly and selling convincingly. He seems to have fallen into the hands of some experienced Bush handlers, who are teaching him how to act like a Bush. I don't blame him for hiring handlers, but if his leadership is so weak that he can't resist their awful advice, he isn't qualified.

= = = = =

Afterthought:

When I write that KMBZ was "not operated as a religious station", I'm guilty of Nowism, applying modern mindsets to an earlier era.

In 1962 there was no such thing as Christian Radio, so "operating as a religious station" wasn't a meaningful choice. The need and the opportunity hadn't yet developed, except possibly in the largest cities like New York. Radio was still operating under the law and culture of public service, in which each station was a quasi-governmental franchise. FCC insisted that stations should serve the needs of their local communities, which included encouraging religion. Stations offered daily sermonettes and choral programs, and networks provided wonderful series like Family Theater.

But 1962, though not obvious at the time, was a point of inflection in this curve. Television had sapped the audience, so networks simply stopped providing radio entertainment in '62. Local stations, unable to replace the quality, started to decline.

Also in '62, the Soviet saboteurs who occupied the Supreme Court began their long war on Christianity with the first decisions banning school prayer. Soon the notion of public service was reversed: it was illegal to mention religion in public.

By the late '70s the FCC had ceased paying much attention to the stagnant backwater of AM radio. As FM and TV, infiltrated from NPR, moved farther and farther to the left, the need for a pro-Christian (or at least not lethally anti-Christian) media became more drastic. Entrepreneurs like Pat Robertson and the Bakkers, and church-based organizations like EWTN and Moody, took advantage of the cheap licenses of abandoned stations and filled the perceived need.

Today nearly every town has at least one explicitly Christian station, and many are commercially successful.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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