Reading Takes Some Family Effort
Editor: In a recent Harvard University study, it was estimated that as many as 75 to 85 million of the 180 million Americans are unable to read or write.
I feel that the number of people who lack basic reading and writing skills could increase in the years to come. The reason is that young people are spending too much time watching television.
While schools are devoting more time and attention to helping students improve their reading skills, the youngsters are going home and spending an average of four hours per night glued to the TV.
To reinforce and improve reading skills taught in school, the student must spend time reading at home. Since independent reading increases both vocabulary and fluency, reading at home can be a powerful supplement to work started in school.
Parents need to encourage reading. A family visit to the library every two weeks would provide the free reading material necessary to compete with television.
The family could establish a block of time when everyone is reading. If the school and home fail to support reading as a leisure activity, television will be the victor and the nation the loser with more and more adults who are illiterate.
Editor: The writer of the letter, ''Radio: A Listener's Lament,'' presumes that WBAL does not carry the hourly CBS news because local commercials offer more revenue than the network newscasts. That simply is not true.
We choose not to air the CBS news so that we have greater flexibility in the overall presentation of our news product.
For instance, on a day when there is a major local story, we would be locked into delaying that story until after the CBS news. Secondly, we are affiliated with several networks (CBS, Mutual, Associated Press Radio, UPI) and this allows us to use reports from whichever source is doing the best job on any particular day.
WBAL is a news/talk station. News is just one ingredient of our programming. Our talk shows, for instance, give listeners an opportunity to comment on the news and to explore subjects in depth. That makes a comparison to WTOP irrelevant. Its format is news, not news/talk.
News/talk is the most costly format on the dial and that makes WBAL the most expensive radio station to operate in this market.
While we, too, would like to see more options for radio listeners, we think we've come up with a good mix.
We are the only radio station in Baltimore offering a locally produced newscast after 6 p.m. We are the only radio station that staffs a newsroom at night. Our staff is twice as large as any radio news department in Baltimore.
The average length of stay on our news staff is about nine years and WBAL staffers average 15 years experience in broadcasting or journalism. Combined with the quantity of air product we provide, we think WBAL listeners are well served. As proof, just last year, United Press International voted the ''WBAL News Journal'' the best newscast in the country.
It was the first time any Baltimore radio or television station has been so honored.
The writer is news director of WBAL-AM.
Editor: Letter writer Kenneth Goldberg's attitude toward recycling is, sadly, typical of too many. These naysayers buy over-packaged goods aimed at people too lazy to use multi-serve containers, let alone to cook for themselves.
Most consume the contents of various cans, bottles, boxes and jars every day. We must break the throw-it-all-away habit unless we want these castaways to become part of the pollution instead of part of the solution.
The answer does not lie in kvetching and moaning about the few basic rinse-and-sort guidelines for recycling.
Instead, use common sense and a few simple purchasing guidelines:
Don't buy single-serve containers.
Buy goods in recyclable packaging, when you have a choice.
Buy cans before glass, glass before plastic, and plastic bottles before plastic-coated cartons.
Let your local government representatives know you want a curbside recycling program, even if it means giving up one of the two weekly trash collections.
It's not a question of whether we want to recycle, but how we're going to fulfill our personal responsibility in properly disposing of our waste. As with anything, recycling is easier than it might seem at first and almost everybody surveyed wants to do it.
Make it even easier by talking to a couple neighbors and starting your recycling car pool, until curbside programs arrive in your area.
$Louis Brendan Curran. Owings Mills.
The writer is president of Owings Mills Green Action.
Editor: When it comes to free trade, The Sun and The Evening Sun never give the whole picture.
You don't tell your readers that ''fast-track'' means to prohibit amendments and limit debates. Is this what the purpose of Congress is, not to debate issues or make amendments?