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The radio airwaves are perfect for finding ‘junk holes'


Everything dies, baby that's a fact; But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.

DEC. 12, 2011: Well, that didn't take long.

Less than a month after winning yet another election as Watertown mayor, Jeff Graham was offering an apology to the mayor of Utica for comments made by a guest on Graham's radio show, the Hotline.

“Let me start by apologizing for the comments about the City of Utica made by my friend and co-worker Johnny Spezzano when he popped into the studio the other day while I did the HOTLINE program on AM-1240 WATN,” the mayor wrote on his blog.

Here's the gist: Spezzano, whose career of misinformation, misrepresentation and mischief are legendary, came on Graham's afternoon radio show recently and said Utica looks like a “junk hole,” and that he has heard that “hookers” hang around the train station. Utica's Mayor, David Roefaro took umbrage at the comments and so Graham invited his mayoral colleague on the air to offer a peace branch.

It was classic Graham: An unforeseen “oops” happened on his show – after all, who could ever possibly predict that Spezzano would say something stupid? – and then Graham quickly and graciously negotiated peace terms with the offended party.

We are so fortunate to have this statesman as mayor!

But let's consider the wattage being burned that day on the Hotline. Here is Spezzano railing about alleged prostitution in Utica when Graham himself recently campaigned for Kristin Davis, the state's major advocate for the legalization of sex-for-money. Here is Spezzano talking about how lousy Utica is when Watertown is full of bumpy streets, hulking empty buildings and overpriced rentals.

Now, if Utica had an employee who for years didn't bill or deposit $100,000 from its recreation department – and had four layers of supervisors not catch it, and had an autopilot mayor shrug his shoulders and just give everyone a pay raise – then I think you'd have a city worth disparaging.

The “my neighbor is a junk hole” mentality is easy to find. Someone in Syracuse thinks Watertown is a junk hole. Someone in Rochester thinks Syracuse is a junk hole. And someone in New York City doesn't even know how to find these junk holes on a map.

And it's that kind of mentality that is also easy to find on talk radio where SOMETHING MUST BE SAID to fill the time when no callers can be found.

It would be nice if such ramblings weren't on the mayor's radio show. But if after 16 years in office you're pretty much campaigning on the theme, “I always show up at ribbon-cutting events,” well, then expectations should be lowered.

What about the rest of the odd squad that fills our local airwaves? Nothing matters because there will always be some agency or nonprofit around here that will run to them whenever they need a voice for promotions.

You see, in Watertown there has always been an ugly truth about radio: We are more enamored with those who sound good instead of those who think soundly.

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