Joseph Avenue Christmas is the story of one man's journey to the true meaning of Christmas. Not just the birth of the babe, but the salvation of the soul. Set on the wintry streets of Rochester, NY it is a visit to the heart of that city and the hearts of some of its best and bravest people. From their good example, and the simple lessons of their own lives and faith, a troubled man finds on a dark Christmas Eve an escape from an increasingly failed life.
Buy the book online by clicking these links:
Studio Phone: (585) 222-1180
Local Phone: (585) 279-5281
Phone Toll-Free: (800) 295-1180
Over recent months, I have been receiving press releases from the office of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter.
That's unusual because for years the congresswoman's office has ignored me. A long time ago, I stayed in pretty regular touch with her press secretaries, but that ended up being fruitless so I let it go.
But the press releases made me wonder if something had changed.
So I thought I'd extend an olive branch and see if I could get the congresswoman on my Rochester radio show.
I figured it couldn't hurt to ask.
So I wrote Erik Walker, the congresswoman's press secretary.
Here's what I said:
i host a talk show on wham radio in rochester, and have for about 18 years. mrs. slaughter has been on a few times, but not in probably 15 years or so. philosophically, we probably look at the world differently, which essentially means i suspect we both secretly believe the other is some sort of political antichrist.
yet she remains an historic figure at the never-ending peak of her powers. and i work at the region's defining talk show.
having her on is kind of a natural.
policy disagreements notwithstanding, she is uniquely affable and loved, and people would like to hear from her.
and i'm the place for them to do that.
she would always be treated with kindness and respect, and she would always be among friends. even if some listeners have made careers of voting against her.
so think about it, see what she thinks. it'd be good if we could work something out.
in my perfect world, we'd have her on about once a month, for half an hour or so, typically by phone. and if there was some major issue or breaking story, it would be good to get her thoughts on it.
also, as a practical matter, rochester right now doesn't have a really approachable congressperson other than mrs. slaughter. whereas hochul and buerkle were very open and available, their replacements really aren't. so rochester never hears directly what's happening in washington.
mrs. slaughter, the region's official southern grandmother, is the person to do that.
further, every time she speaks or appears she sends a message that age is not an obstacle to function or achievement. people would benefit by seeing more of her example in that.
so there's my invitation.
let me know what you guys think.
It's not a great note, but I tried to be respectful and reassuring, and to make a case for why I thought it would be good for Mrs. Slaughter to come on the show. At its base, the note was a request for a sitting member of Congress to make a media appearance in her district. Handling such requests is the job of the press secretary. After a few days, I got the following response:
Hey Bob, hope you enjoyed the holiday.
There are so many directions I could go here, but – unlike so much of your commentary – I’m going to take the high road and just decline the invitation.
I'm probably not the best judge, but the note seems to fall somewhere on the scale between snarky and pissy. It's an interesting insight into Mr. Walker and perhaps Mrs. Slaughter that an insult had to be included. I offered praise in my note, he offered a rude comeback.
What bothers me about this is that Mr. Walker is a public servant being paid by the taxpayer. Yes, he was the campaign's spokesman when Mrs. Slaughter ran last, and his comments then were snide and political. And that's fine -- when he's a campaign employee. But not when he's a government employee.
Further, I'm not sure from the perspective of him being a public-relations professional how picking a fight with a media person makes any sense. In that line of work, aren't they about building relationships and establishing access?
Personally, I couldn't care less, and will have forgotten Eric Walker by the end of the week. I'm sure he's a great guy and I bear him no ill will. His opinion is probably not unique to his office or his party, as I notice the only time any politician wants to come on the radio is when they've got an election coming up. What I wish these politicians would realize is that you don't freeze out reporters and hosts, you freeze out their audiences. When public officials won't speak to the media, who they're really not speaking to is their constituents. It's not about me, it's about the listeners.
And what I have in common with elected officials is that we both work for the listeners.
The difference being that I actually talk to them.
And if the congresswoman and her peers of both parties won't talk to me, I am more than happy to talk about them. If they will not define themselves directly for listeners, I will gladly do it.
But they might not like how it comes out.