NEWS AND OPINION:
Perhaps it’s time to return to a previous century for some holiday perspective.
Let us recall that the 34th president of the United States was the first person whose voice was transmitted through space. On that auspicious occasion, President Dwight D. Eisenhower offered a Christmas greeting.
The date was Dec. 18, 1958, when Project Score — the world’s first communication satellite — was heaved into space aboard an Atlas rocket and achieved a low orbit above Earth.
The process was complicated and secretive at the time. The U.S. and the Soviet Union were in the middle of a serious, high-stakes space race. The satellite, however, carried Eisenhower’s peaceful but strategic message for the world to hear:
“This is the president of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one. Through this unique means, I convey to you and all mankind America’s wish for peace on Earth and goodwill to men everywhere,” the president said, his voice transmitted from the satellite after it had completed 24 hours above the planet.
His words are now part of the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress. But we can’t forget the satellite itself.
SCORE — which stood for Signal Communications by Orbital Relay Equipment — was developed by the U.S. Army Signal Corps and operated for 35 days.
“It proved that satellites could receive signals from one location on Earth and immediately retransmit to another, as well as receive a signal, store it on an onboard recorder, and then transmit on command from the ground. These technical accomplishments provided the basis for future communications satellites,” noted a historic account from the Smithsonian Institution.
The orbit decayed and the satellite reentered the atmosphere on Jan. 21, 1959.
“Because of the communication and record and playback capabilities demonstrated, SCORE was known as the Talking Atlas,” according to a NASA advisory.
WHAT TALK RADIO WILL TALK ABOUT
In the next week, some of the nation’s talk radio hosts will take time off from the microphone, the call-in questions and political spats of the day. Which means that substitute hosts will fill in for them at stations around the country — some arriving at 3:30 a.m. to prepare material for a 5 a.m. sign-on time.
Holland Cooke, a veteran radio broadcaster and media consultant, has some advice for those substitute hosts near and far.
“It’s audition week in talk radio. With so many regulars on vacation, fill-in hosts are getting a listen,” Mr. Cooke wrote in Talkers Magazine, an industry source for the on-the-air population.
“What to talk about during what is a perennially slow news week? Yes, this COVID 19 virus has taught us that anything can happen, at any time,” he said, adding that news during Christmas week, however, is typically scanty.
Mr. Cooke suggested helpful topics for the hosts, however — which also could prompt some interesting conversations at holiday dinner tables as well.
Suggesting New Year’s resolutions for President Biden, or former President Donald Trump is always a reliable topic, Mr. Cooke said, along with suggestions for public figures, local luminaries, cable news channels and even family members or spouses.
“Feel free to disguise your voice,” Mr. Cooke quipped.
He also says suggestions for a “2021 Person of the Year” and predictions for 2022 are also ideal topics.
“Get the ball rolling with your suggestions,” he advises.
‘WHAT TOOK SO LONG?’
COVID-19 test kits are scarce at the moment, a shortage fueled by media coverage, social media and watchdogs who immediately report where kits have been found, and their prices.
Major retailers such as Walmart and Amazon are now limiting customer purchases due to heavy demand — similar to restraints imposed last year on sanitizer, masks, paper towels and vinyl disposable gloves last year.
“It’s just before Christmas, and the Biden administration’s plan is to provide free at-home test kits will happen some time in January? Hopefully? Why didn’t this happen months ago to ramp up test production and availability?” asked Nate Ashworth, founder of Election Central.
“Scientists are baffled as to why [President] Biden waited so long to do anything, and then when he did, the results were too late and underwhelming. In one sense, many Americans don’t care, they’ve already moved on. In another sense, however, this is an administration that promised to ‘shut down the virus’ but has continued to rely on unconstitutional vaccine mandates as its only method for slowing the spread,” Mr. Ashworth wrote in an analysis.
Mr. Biden was asked about this phenomenon during a press briefing this week.
“Come on. What took so long? It didn’t take long at all,” the president replied.
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POLL DU JOUR
• 55% of U.S. adults say that if they had to choose, they would rather have a member of Congress representing them who “compromises to get things done.” 35% of Republicans, 48% of independents and 76% of Democrats agree.
• 83% of those who voted for President Biden and 28% of those who voted for former President Donald Trump also agree.
• 45% say they would prefer a representative who “stick to their principles no matter what”; 65% of Republicans, 52% of independents and 24% of Democrats agree.
• 17% of those who voted for Mr. Biden and 72% of those who voted for Mr. Trump also agree.
SOURCE: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 12-14; the sample included 1,259 registered U.S. voters.
• Merry Christmas, and thank you for reading Inside the Beltway.