Many people, including me, have felt the sudden urge to fire off a letter to the editor after becoming angry over something someone else wrote. I suppose that, given a few moments to calm down, many have felt relieved that they did not give in to that urge. This time, however, I feel like I must respond to a letter I consider extremely offensive, particularly since inside knowledge I have of the object of the writer’s displeasure causes me to consider his vicious letter out of line and riddled with objective, unfounded, and inaccurate criticisms.
Bradley Reeves of the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound recently took it upon himself to desecrate the work of author Ed Hooper, whose book celebrating the memory of the original Knoxville radio icon, WNOX, is now available in area book stores. [“Remembering Our Musical Legacy—Correctly,” Dec. 10, 2009] One would think that Reeves, whose job it is to help perpetuate the rich history of media in our area, would make a positive contribution to Ed Hooper’s pictorial history of the pioneers who put Knoxville on the radio map during the glory years of AM 990, spanning this station’s early days as a center of live programs, and later as a nationally recognized Top 40, or “rock” station that created original techniques and format ideas that continue to be used by top stations around the world today. Instead, Reeves resorts to whining and sniping about what he claims are “inaccuracies” in the book, which are, in my view, not inaccuracies at all.
As a former personality on WNOX, I was honored to be asked to work with Hooper on collecting, editing, and writing captions for his book. The result is a successful partial history, or pictorial overview, of the iconic radio station, spanning primarily the post-war years of live stage broadcasts, through the glory days of Top 40 radio. Many of the performers and executives who participated in the success of WNOX are shown in photos, mentioned in text, or both. No one ever claimed the book would include 100 percent of the performers, musicians, comedians, or business executives of the station. It was necessary, in order to both meet publication deadlines and to fit the history of WNOX into the allotted number of pages, to concentrate on the most popular local headlining performers, according to the many interviews done with participants and listeners. The book was not about the St. James Hotel recording sessions, or Knoxville’s “musical legacy.” It was about WNOX and some of the people who made it great. There was absolutely no attempt to diminish the contributions of any of the performers, be they stars, band members, or sidemen, as all played important roles in the success of the radio station. But to recklessly take the author to task is unfair of Mr. Reeves. Perhaps he should draw on his resources and talent and write a more definitive work about all the things he thinks Ed Hooper missed instead of whining about the things Hooper included.
Especially baffling is Reeves’ assertion that his organization was not credited with the use of photographs from its collection. I hasten to point out that, when invited to contribute content for the book, Mr. Reeves refused to cooperate whatsoever, and provided NO photos or other materials to be included. He was obviously planning a hatchet job even while the book was being created, but this would not have come out if he had not launched his attack on Hooper and the book.
In the rush to deadline, some errors in my spelling may have occurred. Perhaps Mr. Reeves should write a letter to the editor condemning the editors and spell checkers at the publishing house. Ed Hooper’s credentials as a writer and historian are well known. But the credentials of Bradley Reeves are a mystery. What is the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound, how is it funded, and who is responsible for Mr. Reeves’ tirade?