After six months of silence, Nashville’s oldest and best radio talk show, Teddy Bart’s “Round Table,” is back on the air, this time on station WAMB-1160 AM.
Bart, cohost Karlen Evins, and “Round Table” regular Tommy Burnett, a gregarious former legislator and ex-con, returned to the air Monday morning, broadcasting from a street-level studio in the window of the Cumberland apartments on Church Street.
During the first show, Bart and company gently grilled, in turn, mayoral candidates Bill Purcell, Jay West, and Richard Fulton about the August election. Paul Durham, another potential candidate, waved from the street but wasn’t invited in.
Tuesday, Bart’s guests were Mayor Phil Bredesen and conservative local attorney Sam Bartholomew. Durham and state Sen. Steve Cohen were to be guests Wednesday, with John Jay Hooker scheduled for Thursday.
Filling, in part, the void left by the closing of the Nashville Banner, Bart’s show focuses on local and state political issues. Although the guest list is sometimes too predictable, Bart’s show works because he and Evins have the sense to let the guests do most of the talking.
Station owner Bill Barry said WAMB’s “adult standards” format (big band and torch songs from the 1940s and 1950s) “attracts an older audience” that should appreciate the “Round Table.”
“These people vote and are interested in current events,” Barry said. The powerful 50,000-watt station also carried the “Round Table” for a few months in 1997 after a storm knocked over the broadcast tower of WKDA-AM, which Bart and Evins then owned.
Bart, a well known local television and radio personality for 30 years, started the “Round Table” in 1986 on station WLAC-AM and moved to station WWTN-FM in 1993. In 1995, Bart and Evins bought WKDA-AM, but soon found that owning a station was a lot less fun than running a radio show. They sold the station last August for roughly twice what they paid for it and have been off the air since.
Barry said that Bart and Evins have leased the 7 to 9 a.m. time slot for the next six months and will keep all revenue from ads sold during that period. To minimize commercial interruptions, Evins said the show is selling quarter-hour sponsorships to eight advertisers only.
There will be a one-minute ad at the beginning of each segment but no other commercials until the next quarter-hour. Evins said the sponsorship format will “unclutter” the show and give it more of a “public broadcasting type feel.”
While never registering very high in audience ratings, the “Round Table” appeals to people who take politics, education, and neighborhood issues seriously. The show’s format and audience are tailor-made to discuss issues related to the upcoming mayor’s race. “I haven’t seen much coverage” of the election in The Tennessean or on local television, Bart said. “We are going to try to fill that void.”
Oak Ridge, part 713
Last Sunday, Tennessean reporters Laura Frank and Susan Thomas finally reported the three-week-old news that children in the Scarboro community in Oak Ridge are “generally healthy,” according to state and federal officials. The findings undermine the newspaper’s repeated allegations that a “mysterious pattern of illnesses” afflicts people living near nuclear facilities in Oak Ridge and other parts of the country.
Although the paper sat on the story since early January, the article fairly describes the expert’s findings, which focused only on the Scarboro neighborhood. The story also reminded readers, however, that the paper had interviewed “more than 400 individuals in 11 states” who believe that their illnesses are related to nearby nuclear facilities.
Forty of those sick people live near the Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington state, considered one of the most contaminated nuclear sites in the country. Last week, the same federal agency that investigated Scarboro released the results of a 10-year study finding no link between radiation releases in Hanford and the rate of thyroid disease among local residents.
Last September, The Tennessean wrote a great deal about the sick people around Hanford. But Sunday’s story never mentioned these latest findings, which, like the Scarboro report, indicate that the paper’s two-year series has been a wild goose chase. The paper did carry a wire service report about Hanford on page 14A of last Friday’s Tennessean.
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