As is my habit, my alarm clock radio is set to WGN 720 radio, but this morning I awoke to folks talking in Spanish. "I must have," I thought in my haze, "accidentally set it to the wrong station last night, maybe a Spanish-speaking one."
I turned to change the station and discovered I hadn't. The dial was still set on "Chicago's own" WGN, and I was listening, I soon discovered, to Greg Jarrett, the station's new morning drive host. It has Jarrett who was speaking Spanish, interviewing someone--it slips my mind who--who apparently spoke only Spanish.
Uh oh, I thought. It won't be long until the e-mails start pouring in. You know the kind: "This is America, and here we speak English."
Well, at least some people thought we did, or at least we ought to.
That's my sentiment too, and I was disappointed that commercial AM
radio, directed to as wide of an audience as
possible, now was going
the way of Home Depot, which thinks it has to post "exit" signs in
Spanish so people not conversant in English know how to find their way
out. Or banks, whose robot answers the phone with "push one" for
Welcome to Chicago, Greg.
Jarrett comes to us by way of San Francisco, the legendary home of
political correctness and the ultra-correct House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
where he was an "afternoon host, news anchor and on-air correspondent
for the legendary heritage radio station KGO-AM." So, he might be
excused if he thought his landing here was a bit, well, rough. In the
very short span of my listening, Jarrett seems to be doing his best to
learn about Chacawga's foibles and sensitivities, and for that, he
While our city's Hispanic population is growing quickly and immigrants
always have been a part of Chicago's unique fabric, there nonetheless
exists here issues about English as a first language, illegal
immigration, undocumented workers taking native jobs, accommodation to
existing cultural norms and so forth. These are legitimate issues, and
the folks who send out hate mail or make nasty phone calls when any of
those topics come up should not distract us from reasonable debate.
Nor should those who unfairly try to stereotype anyone who opposes
illegal immigration as "anti-immigration" and xenophobic. Chicago, as
much as any city, is a melting pot (yes, I still dare to use that
expression), full of millions of immigrants and their second-, third-
and fourth-generations that have learned how to accommodate themselves
to American cultural and language. (Yes, Greg, it is "American," the
name that we appropriated for the United States, and which everyone in
the world calls us.) As a teen, immigrant German and Italian families
lived across the street from my family, and while they struggled to
communicate with us in their native languages, they never, ever
expected us to learn German and Italian to accommodate their
sensitivities. They fully understood, in coming here, what the deal was.
This is a country, united by a lot of commonality, including language.
Despite that, we struggle to stay united, despite the political,
cultural, religious and language differences that strain our seams. So,
Greg, while we appreciate your effort to be nice and bring a little
open-mindedness to us flatlanders and provincials, I, for one, would
appreciate waking up to programming that I can understand.