The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia on February 5, 1981 · 50
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The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia · 50

Atlanta, Georgia
Issue Date:
Thursday, February 5, 1981
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60 INTOYN EXT1U. Ftlruary 5, 1931 V.. 'i-1 ; It . Upset TV Crew Airs Complaints By DONNA WXUAU3 Itaporttr Mw KXJttA Technical workers at WETV Channel 30, upset with their working conditions and other grievances, plan to appear before a meeting of the Atlanta Board of Education Monday in the first step toward what they say,; could eventually lead to a wildcat strike. : WETV is owned and operated by the Atlanta Board of Education which annually contributes about $1 million to the station. Other funds come from the Fulton County Board of Education, corporate grants and pri vate donations. - The Atlanta school board may, however, have to decide soon whetherit will keep its station. A Senate bill currently under consideration by the legislature would combine Georgia's public television and radio stations under one state umbrella. Board member Carson Lee said the board has "mixed feelings" about giving up control of WETV. He said "my feeling" is that "we should move slowly in our effort to get rid of the station." "I think it is a good thing sometimes . . . when you control something, you do what you want,1 said Lee. Employees on the station's technical crew say they will ask the school board to once again review their grievances which were taken as far as the Civil Service Commission in 1979, Complaints center around work schedules. Members of the production crew say they are required to work nights and weekends - working sometimes "only two hour? a day' so that their employer "can avoid paying overtime," charged camera crewmemeber Barry Lawrence. "I have to choose between education, family, job and social life," complained George Holcomb, also on the broadcast studio crew. Holcomb was the only employee of five interviewed last week who stated that he would Join a strike if the employees' union AFSCME Local 1644 called for one. , The workers, however, plan to pursue court action !' 17 T.--I-:"--. Wit Wit . VH 1 - V Wt Lf , . : III! 4 mi " -eSy - vvmt 11 1 first if they "are not satisfied" with the direction the school board takes on the matter. ; : ' WETV and school officials will not comment on the employees' grievances, saying that it is a personnel '.matter.' - " School Superintendent Alonzo Crim said, however, that "their grievances have been aired all up and down the line." ... -..v,. "I feel they have been accorded the fair . treatment any person is entitled to in the system," Crim said. ' Holcomb also has made an issue of the fact that instructional programs are no longer being produced by the station. He has alleged that taxpayers are being led into believing that their dollars are paying for the production of instructional, rather than "public" programs. While no evidence has been found to support that allegation, the station's General Manager Robert Ware said WETV Is not required to produce the programs. The station Is only required to air instructional programming. vv,-.' Dr. Sidney Estes, assistant superintendent of instructional planning and development, said the production of instructional programming "has suffered from budget constraints." "The Board of Education reduced its support (of WETV) around '75-76," said Estes. "A lot of activities had to be curtailed because of the budget" ! lUr I ' " '. " ;- ' v 1 mil in miiiiuii iimi ii n mm- jwnKifirrriiTi -ri , ...-J George Holcomb, John Cox and Barry Lawrence, WETV technical workers, aay they will present their grievances to the Atlanta Board of Education. They say the crew may strike. Meanwhile, the school board may relinquish ownership of the station. (Photo-Ray West) John Hughes Is New Deputy Manager at WE TV By DONNA WILLIAMS RfPtrtSff tatowV) EXTRA " . Some people might call WETVs new first mate an over-achiever. John Hughes, deputy director of the station, was a top' student in his New Jersey high school. He was also an athlete, class president, was active in student government, and on the school's debate team, and wrote for the school's newspaper. Hughes dreamed of becoming the first professional basketball, baseball and tennis player "all at one time." And because the "opportunity was there," Hughes tried outfpr a spot on the Cincin- natifteds. : :y : ' -w.: The Reds showed interest, but as 1 Hughes put it "it wa3 not meant to be." What was "meant to be" for Hughes was that in 1969 he took on his first communications job as a high school intern with "New Jersey Public Television." Ten years later, he was made general manager of that station and became the first black in top management of any p . - i see us upholding the tradition -of excellence In public broadcast-Ing and making It a more localized effort,' ssys WETVs John Hughes. PubUs te'evieion has 'an Image' of 'rellabnty, invastigatton end research. public television station in the nation. At 29 years old, he was surely one of the youngest Last November, Hughes came to At lanta as second-in-command at WETV to General Manager Robert Ware. ' Hughes comes on the heels of a "reorganization effort" at WETV. The station, like most other public television stations around the country, is putting "the local community" high on Its priority list : Hughes said public television stations "need to (foster) strong identification with the community." , "I see us upholding the tradition of excellence in public broadcasting and making it a more localized effort," he ' said. Public television has "an image" of "reliability, Investigation and research." In his short tenure at WETV, Hughes has already begun his assessment of the needs and strengths of "multicultural" Atlanta. 1 To Hughes, Atlanta's politics and the arts often considered two of the city's Strong points in terms of minority participation are areas which need to be strengthenelvf-:"';! : ;;' "The arts area needs exposure, promotion," he said. "People need to be educated about the value of a strong arts community. The community has to embrace these talented, capable cultural resources."; ; Hughes applauded "political development" which he said is "excellent because of a Maynard Jackson, a Reginald Eaves and a diversity of elected officials.". ;:,V' ' He said, however, that there is not as much interest in the political arena as there should be. People "need to look at the process, the cast of characters, the effect their participation can have on the process and the return on their Investment," he Said. Ai1;vh:-:.:-; ; 1 "That needs to be documented, investigated, researched, and there needs to be some thought applied to the . . . state o! the State and the state of the City we need more than a five-minute newsrecl," said Hughes. "We need to educate people about their role as citizens."

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