Brief Sneak Preview From The Upcoming Book, HURRICANE, by Roger Wilson
There were situations that found me right in the middle of covering many notable events such as Presidential speeches, campaign appearances, sporting events, and breaking news stories over time while working with the other various Atlanta radio outlets. The experience of covering President Ronald Reagan speaking at Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Library dedication was a memorable one. It was probably the only time those two were ever civil to each other. Walter Mondale’s and Geraldine Ferraro’s campaign as running mates blew through Atlanta one day. Their run was over about as fast as it had started. My top of the list experience has to be the time that Georgia State Senator Julian Bond debated then Atlanta City Councilman and MLK Civil Rights Activist, John Lewis, broadcasting live on Atlanta news radio. I was running audio on location for that broadcast.
In 1986, Julian Bond gave up his state senate seat to run for U.S. Congress. On this day, he was facing me from the other end of the long table in the Atlanta City Council Chambers. Councilman Lewis was directly in front of me facing Julian. After the microphones were wired up and the signal was clear back to the radio station, the debate began. In recent weeks, Bond’s marital problems became headline news when his wife accused him of adultery and of cocaine use. That was the central issue on the table for this event. The signal from the two politicians’ voices would travel directly through the microphone mixer and into my headphones with me controlling the volume level. The signal immediately traveled over phone lines back to the radio station and out on the airwaves. Although any actual audio delay to air would be nothing more than split second minimal, the signal still reached my ears first.
When Atlanta City Councilman John Lewis challenged former Georgia State Senator Julian Bond to take a drug test on the spot, live on the air, all bets were off. When Bond refused, one could … at least I seemed to… feel his political career end instantly. It reminded me of hearing air swiftly escape out of a tire. It was that intense. One could have sliced the tension with a knife. Bond’s political life took a downward turn at that moment as he later lost the Democratic primary to his former friend and colleague, John Lewis. At this writing, the 50th anniversary of The March from Selma to Montgomery is being commemorated. It was a special event for U.S. Georgia Congressman John Lewis, since he can still be seen in photos marching on the front line with Dr. King. Other photos show him being beaten by Alabama State Troopers on that fateful day. It has been an honor to meet him on several occasions. He is truly a Civil Rights icon.
To be cont’d