Box 7, Folder 11, Document 39

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August 23, 1968 Vol. 92, No. 8

The Cool Hot Line

The hot-line show is one of the most
discredited forms of radio program-
ming. What could be more unedifying
than know-nothing listeners phoning in
their philosophies to know-it-all ex-disk
jockeys? But this summer the United
Methodist Church is making judicious
use of the format. It is sponsoring a
radio dialogue between the races that
is more compelling than any heard on
the sudden multitude of such talk shows,
including those produced on TV.

The name of the program is Nigi/it
Cail, and it is carried live (11:30 p.m.-
12:30 a.m., E.D.T.) five evenings a week
on an ad hoc chain that has grown
from 21 to 57 radio stations in less
than three months. Listeners anywhere
may phone collect (Area Code 212: 749-
3311) and argue racial issues with an in-
fluential national figure who is guest of
the night, say James Baldwin, the Rev.




Just call collect for an argument.

Ralph Abernathy, Muhammad Ali, Sar-
gent Shriver or Arthur Miller.

The most provocative visitor so far—
judging by the number of callers totted
up by the phone company—was Stoke-
ly Carmichael, who was dialed by
64,440 Americans. In customary form,
Carmichael told one listener who won-
dered about the impact of nonviolence
on whites, “You should ask Martin Lu-
ther King that question.” A white guest
who stirred a big switchboard jam was
New York's Mayor John Lindsay.
Quizzed on the war in Viet Nam, Lind-
say replied :that it was “unproductive,
unwanted, endless, bottomless, sideless,
and its cost is unquestionably affecting
the problems in our cities.” Another
night, White Radical Saul Alinsky, in
sympathy with black callers, blasted the
Job Corps as a “payoff to stay quiet”
and categorized much of the rest of
the poverty program as “a public re-
lations gimmick.”


Ranting Nuts. Thanks to a specially
built phone link-up system, the pro-
vgram’s guest generally participates as
the listeners do—by long-distance from
his home. A Manhattan staffer receives
calls on three phones, screening out
“the drunks and ranting nuts.” The
twelve or 15 most pertinent questions
are put through to the show’s moder-
ator, Del Shields. In case the conver-
sation gets libelous or licentious, Shields
can push a cut-off button, but he has
not yet had to use it. Though the dis-
cussion is frequently fiery, about the
roughest language used to date was
Rap Brown's dismissal of civil rights leg-
islation as “intellectual masturbation.”

Shields, who is a radio veteran and
militant black, got into the debate him-
self once when he felt that a Negro call-
er was unfairly attacking Guest Jackie
Robinson for Uncle Tomism. Often,
Moderator Shields, who hits fungoes
to the guest for ten or 15 minutes be-
fore turning him over to the phone-in

audience, is the toughest interrogator
of the night. Roy Innis, director of
CORE, should know what is in store for
him next month. Shields plans to ask
him “Has CORE gone Tom?”

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