Friday, May 25, 2007

RADIO (WCHL Commentary)

Do you have one of those XM Satellite radios? If you do, you probably were a little perturbed when you experienced an outage earlier this week. Hearing about their satellite being down and then hearing the story on TV about the ominous 2007 hurricane season made me wonder; if the predicted number of named storms and number of hurricane days is anywhere close to accurate, it’s going to be an interesting season!
Remember the ice storm back in December of 2002. Fortunately, WCHL had just returned as a local station and was able to provide 24 hour information and updates for those of us who had working radios. What would have happened if we had to depend on a satellite signal for our local advisories and updates? Sure, if you had a battery operated TV or a generator, you got news and updates from the TV stations, but it was regional. Hearing our mayor and town manager projecting calm and competent leadership as they provided advisories and updates was really reassuring.
Sadly, I think we will face another crisis of that sort in the future and it may come during this hurricane season. Now is the time to get ready by doing what the emergency preparedness folks have suggested. Go to the Orange County webpage and check out their advice. Having a working radio and extra batteries is one of their suggestions. I don’t know about you, but my family and I will most definitely be tuned to WCHL 1360 in order to stay informed. Satellite radio may have the music you want but it sure won’t have the local information that you really need!

Sunday, May 6, 2007


April 30, 2007

Dear Editor:

In the first 120 days of 2007, we probably have not received our paper on one-third of those days. Calling the Herald-Sun “customer no-service” line produces even greater frustrations, especially when the voice tells me that they “deliver more news seven days a week.” Of course, if they did deliver it, I wouldn’t be calling. Sometimes after calling, the paper eventually gets to our driveway and sometimes it doesn’t.

With all of the challenges facing the print media these days, you would think a paper’s owners would do all that it could to retain paying customers. I have personally had conversations with the district manager, the circulation manager, and even the publisher about not getting our paper but it continues to happen. I just can’t understand why, as the other paper that we pay to receive has missed delivery only once in the last 120 days and the free paper comes twice a week without fail. Whatever the explanation, deeds, not words, should be the coin of the realm for consumers.

We did not get this Sunday’s paper, again. We called and were told that they would try to deliver it; it never came. It didn’t come Monday morning either, but the “customer no-service” rep said that they would try to get it out to us Tuesday. I assume that my Sunday column was printed but I have no personal confirmation. What’s wrong with this picture?

Thus, in good conscience I can no longer be an unpaid weekly columnist for an organization that seems to care so little about its customers. I have enjoyed my time writing for the Chapel Hill Herald and I especially value all of the feedback from readers. I understand that, as editor, you have no control over the business aspects of the paper, but I hope you understand my decision. I also hope that somehow, the Paxton chain will devoted the necessary resources to improve delivery and its customer service approach before it’s too late. Our community needs a community-focused newspaper, but is this a corporate commitment?

Thanks again for the opportunity to write the weekly Sunday column and I wish you and your fine staff good luck.

Fred Black