Letters: Overseas Surgery, Payola, Sorry Apologies

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Listeners comment on medical tourism, the divide over homosexuality within the Episcopal Church, the proposed payola settlement and when, how, and how not to say "I'm sorry."


It's Tuesday, and time to read from your e-mails. Our conversation on medical tourism brought plenty of e-mails, both for and against, and a listener named Minnie wrote in with another point of view.

There is a deep discussion about this on the other side, too. I'm speaking specifically of India, where doctors and policy-makers are grappling with the ethics of providing care to foreigners with money when millions of Indians go without basic medical care. Hopefully, part of the revenue generated from this medical tourism will go toward improving the state of health care for ordinary Indians.

And in our regular visit with Ask Amy's Amy Dickenson, we took up the issue of apologies: when, how and how not to say I'm sorry. Why do we have to apologize every time somebody takes offense to, at or with something? asked Christopher Crowder(ph), a listener in Kansas. Sometimes people do overreact. Sometimes people are too sensitive, and sometimes people just need to get over it.

During our conversation two weeks ago about the divide over homosexuality within the Episcopal Church, Bishop Catherine Roskam argued that the church should welcome everybody, including gay members and gay bishops.

Many of you wrote in to disagree. Over 20 percent of the Episcopal Church have committed to be what's called Windsor-compliant, which means they do not agree with your guest. The church has lost close to 50 percent of its membership in the last 50 years. Many have given up and left due to the leadership's neglect of traditional families - that e-mail from Chris Hill.

Last Wednesday, after details came out of a proposed payola settlement between the FCC and several big radio companies, we spoke with FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. One part of their plan would require some music stations to give free airtime to independent musicians.

And Catherine Raz(ph) from Chicago e-mailed to tell us: It's nice the FCC is taking these steps, but I don't think it's going to do much for independent musicians, who already seem to have taken matters into their own hands. College radio, MySpace, review Web sites and other more democratic media already seem to be filling the gap left by commercial radio.

And you may remember a show we did a few weeks ago with Mark Fisher on the history of radio. During that program, we played some clips of classic radio that happened to include this ad:

(Soundbite of radio advertisement)

Unidentified Man: Smoke Pall Mall. Never too strong, never too weak. Buy Pall Mall famous cigarettes. Outstanding, and they are mild.

CONAN: Afterwards, we got an e-mail from a listener named Melanie, who wrote: That announcer was my dad. His name is Cy Harris. He's now 91 years old. He was one of the radio greats of his day. His voice was so famous from the 1940s through the 1960s, that people of a certain age still remember his voice.

He did thousands of commercials for all the big companies: Speedy, Alka-Seltzer, GM, Ford, Pall Mall and many radio programs, working with stars of the day like Ginger Rogers. His voice is still amazing. He is also still a total character, charming everyone with his wit and his deep, deep voice. He asked that I e-mail you, as he will have nothing to do with computers.

Well, when we replied in an effort to reach Cy Harris directly, we got some sad news. My father would've been thrilled to know you were interested in talking with him about his career in radio. He died on February 14th. It was very sudden. I know he would've had a great time talking with you about old-time radio, as you would have with him. My father deeply touched pretty much everyone he met during his lifetime, and he continues to do so now.

We're sorry we missed the chance to speak with Cy Harris, and we offer our condolences to his family. And thanks to Melanie, his daughter, for introducing us to her dad. Cy Harris was 91 years old when he died on Valentine's Day.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: If you have comments, questions or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by e-mail. The address is talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from, and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

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