In the Heartland, Few Care or Know about Puerto Rico Statehood Issue

By Price, Joyce Howard | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 5, 1998 | Go to article overview

In the Heartland, Few Care or Know about Puerto Rico Statehood Issue


Price, Joyce Howard, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Statehood for Puerto Rico, a big issue in Washington these days, is not even on the radar screen in much of the nation's heartland, according to an informal sampling of public opinion yesterday.

Beverly Adams, owner of the Dutch Diner in Tampico, Ill., former President Reagan's home town, said: "I haven't heard much about it. Nobody's talking about it." She added that she'd need to know more before offering an opinion.

Said Steve Rosenberg, owner of Superior Florists in Manhattan: "I could care less. It doesn't affect me one bit."

Michael Harrison, editor and publisher of Talkers magazine, the publication for the radio talk show industry, says there's "not a lot" of discussion about Puerto Rican statehood other than on Spanish-language stations in Miami, New York and Chicago. All three cities have large Puerto Rican populations.

"A San Juan newspaper reporter was all over my case today, insisting that talk shows must be talking about this. I told her I hate to disappoint her, but they are not," Mr. Harrison said.

"There is no prevailing giant pool of public opinion about Puerto Rican statehood among average talk show listeners or average citizens. It's an issue within the Puerto Rican community, but not outside that community," he said.

Diane Zecchin, a sales staffer with Radio WBZT-AM in West Palm Beach, Fla., said there's a "fairly large" population of Puerto Ricans in that station's market area, "because we're so close to Miami."

Nevertheless, she said, statehood for Puerto Rico has "not been a big topic" on its talk shows. In fact, Miss Zecchin said just one person - "a little old lady" - called WBZT's morning talk show yesterday and addressed the statehood issue. "She gave a negative response," Miss Zecchin said.

Mr. Harrison of Talkers magazine said "most American citizens don't know there's even a bill in Congress" to make Puerto Rico a state, "and most Americans don't even realize that Puerto Rico is not a foreign country."

Curtis Sliwa, late night talk show host on Radio WABC-AM in New York, said his listeners fall into those categories, despite the huge population of Puerto Ricans in the Big Apple. …

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