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Letter to the Editor: Reynolds family and WJBR integral to Del. radio history

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My congratulations to Peter Booker and his accomplished tenure at WSTW/WDEL along with the other broadcast standouts mentioned in a recent piece by Sam Waltz. (DBT, Oct. 26, 2015)

I would like to mention two others from the pioneer FM stereo station, WJBR: the call-letters’ namesakes, John B. Reynolds Sr. and Jr. — my father and grandfather.

In 1955-56 when AM ruled the roost, this gas station owner/mechanic and his talented piano-playing son (who got his start on WDEL TV, now WHYY) received the nation’s first authorization from the FCC to test broadcast FM stereo. Here is a quote from a 1985 edition of “The Chapter 18 Radiator” a publication for broadcast engineers. It refers to JBR Sr.  “He did everything, including tuning the transmitter. He was a pioneer in the field of stereo broadcasting long before monitors were approved. He would use a receiver and his ear to tune a generator that had dozens of adjustments. After monitors came out it was found that his method was right on!”

On the creative side, my father chose the music and pioneered the easy listening format. When it was jokingly referred to as “dentist office music” they would say: That’s right, we are on in dentists’ offices, doctors’ offices, offices of all kinds. as well as in people’s homes!

In the early days one of the two of them was usually there to sign the station on in the morning and shut it down at night. On the December day of my birth in 1957 my father was not there. He had to get the station on in the middle of a blizzard. He borrowed a horse from Mrs. Rosio’s farm behind now Concord High School to ride in since a car could not pass. Once they went to broadcasting 24 hours a day they eventually had a music library that allowed them to go a month without ever playing the same song twice.

There is a lot of broadcast history in Delaware. Mr. Waltz’s piece triggered a lot of memories and a good bit of pride. Thank you for that, and congratulations to Pete Booker.

– James R. Reynolds, LCSW

Participation trophies all about memories, not self-esteem

Participation trophies seem to be a very popular subject lately. From Bryant Gumbel’s ESPN “Inside Sports” commentary, to the Steelers’ James Harrison denouncing them for his sons, to conservative talk show host Dennis Prager announcing that he believes only Democrats support participation trophies, and the News Journal’s Jeffrey Gentry, everyone has an opinion on them, mostly negative.

The common theme is that children do not deserve a trophy just for showing up. These trophies give the kids a false sense of self-esteem that they have not earned.

As the owner of a trophy store, I have a vested interest in the awards business.  But I also have a different perspective, based on what I have seen. The kids know who the better athletes and scholars are, but that does not detract from the excitement they receive from a trophy. Much as the season-ending pizza party or picnic builds friendships and camaraderie and recaps the season, the trophy is a tangible reminder of the fun, skills learned, teamwork and friends made, even if the team did not win, or the child was not a standout player.

The best argument for awarding a trophy, or any type of recognition for an accomplishment, is this:

Why would you not want to reward something you want more of?

Whether it is a small child, or an adult, shouldn’t they be recognized if they are doing a positive activity? There may only be one top salesman, but shouldn’t others be rewarded for contributing to the success of your company?

If a participation trophy offers only enough encouragement for a child to continue that activity for another year, isn’t that worth it? If children don’t participate when they’re young, they certainly are not going to participate when they’re older. Yes, there will come a time as the child becomes older that he will earn a trophy, not just be given one. But when the objective of the parent of a 6-year-old is to get them to participate, make friends, have fun and learn skills, not prepare for the Olympics, isn’t it worth $3 to $5 to encourage them?

Many children that play youth sports will not play sports in high school, but if they develop the confidence that sports can instill, they may realize other interests — debate, acting, academic clubs, etc.

Yes, the trophies may collect dust – an acknowledgment that they are seldom discarded. The fact that they remain on the shelf until the awardee is grown must mean something. It is not a symbol of excellence, but rather an acknowledgement that they were part of something beyond themselves.

With a participation trophy, you are not buying self-esteem, you are providing a memory.  n

– James Soutar and his wife own Crown Trophy of Wilmington.

10 E. Dale Road, Wilmington, DE 19810 | 302-478-9620 (W) 302-475-7285 (H)

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