Gray Watson Personal Thoughts 2002.05.06
Swing and a Miss

[ In going back over my old mail I came across this letter to my local radio station WBUR and their program called OnPoint. They usually are very good and this program was such a departure from their normal quality that I had to write them. I am commenting on their show on April 24, 2002 entitled The Hybrid: The Car of the Future?.

To whom it may concern:

I am a big fan of the Connection and OnPoint and a contributor to WBUR. Having a environmental slant and looking to buy and Insight or Prius, I was very interested in the show about hybrid cars. I could not watch it live unfortunately but just listened to it online.

In short, I thought the program was one of the worst I've heard from you. John DeCicco had little to contribute, Sarah Chaise with her Land Rover and wisdom about driving in Afghanistan was little better, and Tom Ashbrook was quite obviously skeptical and seemed rather disinterested. He seemed more interested in the Catholic Church scandal and the Arafat siege then the program.

  1. In the wake of 9/11, no one mentioned that 15 of the 19 hijackers and Osama himself are all from Saudi Arabia who not only is one of the top suppliers of oil to the US but also the number one financier of secular Islamic fundamentalism. The American love of high performance automobiles, SUVs, etc. comes with a cost which no one is recognizing. With all of the fuss that is going on in the Middle East right now, you'd think there would be some good segues into oil. Alas.
  2. No one mentioned the green house gases and that the US produces 21% of the global emissions of CO2 with 4% of the population.
  3. No one directly pointed out that while GM is suing the State of California over its clean air and water regulations, it is the Japanese, who have less oil than we (thank the lord), who are pushing these consumer level technologies. The Japanese killed US car makers in the 70s and 80s with fuel efficient small cars, and now, in my view, are poised to do it yet again.
  4. No one talked about politics of oil. How we have an oil man in the White House with oil companies like Enron stopping by for visits. If the government upped the regulations on mileage would people stop buying cars or something? What would they think would happen? It would push the technologies and hopefully do away with vehicles like the Excursion which gets <10 mpg. We might see a drop in power of some cars which would undoubtedly drop the number of car fatalities, etc.. But who cares about all that.

No, this was a program completely "in the box" and without much excitement or educational value for most I would guess. Given the high standards I have set for your show, maybe I'm not surprised that you get and F every once and a while -- but I am still very disappointed.

You are so very good with social and political tops that how you could not see the social and political ramifications of the topic is beyond me.

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