Death in the News- specifically Cable News Network-
Do we remember how exotic that sounded at first? "it'll never work..." they said, Well Ted and Emmy award winning Robert Wussler made it work, and changed the way we look at news, and changed the way we southsiders look at the future.
Before CNN, we tuned in to watch Johnny Beckman, Monica Kaufmann, Guy Sharpe, John Pruitt, or Jim Axel to find out what had transpired during the day. By 1980, each of the Big Three network affiliates usually opened with a live shot from somewhere, and then of course "an update on your weather."
(Wow- I pegged it! Wish I could remember my keys like this- watch this clip of Action News on the day the Wayne Williams interrogation was breaking- not sure they even named him! And sorry I forgot Wes Sargenson!)
In 1980. the live shots were often at a street corner in our beloved southside, where many of our grandparents were still living. Street corner shots alternated with shots of empty playgrounds as the terror of what was becoming known as the Atlanta Child Murders began to take hold.
One effect this terror had on us was to instill the idea that we were not ever safe; but certainly not in Atlanta. Realize that most southside moms took a pretty dim view of Atlanta already, dreading the drive up, making sure to take the bypass on the way up to Cumberland or Lenox -we had no where else to shop until Morrow's Southlake opened in c.1978.
In spite of this, we never locked the side door of the house in Fayetteville; our neighbors were right there- wouldn't they call if there were some one in our driveway we needed to know about? We still had no qualms whatsoever about walking from Old Nat'l's Skatetowne to the Steak n Shake(not that our parents ever knew about this!) Yet all we heard for the next several years was that there was a mysterious killer, or killers, stalking children in Atlanta.
I left Fayetteville as quickly as I could upon graduation; it never occurred to me to try Atlanta; it was already fixed in my mind that Atlanta was a creepy, cold, crime ridden place offering nothing for me. Precisely because of Fayette County's bucolic reputation, newcomers flooded the housing market, driving prices up so high that none of the home folks' kids that did want to stay in FC after college could afford to. SO. They moved to Coweta.
Now there's barely a pine nor an oak between Fort Mac and the Meriwether County Line.
The positive effect I can document only minimally, since I did leave and have not as of yet every returned to live full time. I can only give three examples, but I can attest that the effect is real. As much as I mourn the loss of our excellent local Big Three teams, I am proud of CNN. We went from being the home of the Atlanta Child Murders to being the Home of CNN! Several of our own classmates Got Jobs At CNN! It never crossed my mind growing up in Kenwood that anyone I knew would work at a TV station, except Todd Landrum, whom I pegged for Johnny's eventual replacement, since he was the funniest and smartest kid I knew.
But there was Cheryl Fowler, Susanne Black, Toby Blanton! My sister! Suddenly our horizons stretched far; our children's vistas. Never did my girls hear from me, "You'd better get a teaching certificate, just in case."
Thank you Robert Wussler, for opening up our world just a little bit. See his obit at the ajc.com, here.
Tonight, and Sunday night, you can see CNN and their take on the Atlanta Child Murders; go here for an overview and broadcast times.
Look to your right along the book list and check out Bernard Headly's well researched take on the ACMs. I was amazed at his meticulous examination of the fiber evidence, for example.
If you have cable- enjoy! Can't wait to get ahold of the show somehow.