Issues come back to bite 

Looking over the Metro Times’ early issues creates many impressions … one of which is that, for all the changes that we’ve gone through, the region’s issues remain the same. The cover of the first MT from 1980 reads “Last Hired, First Fired” for a story on layoffs of African-American and female officers from the Detroit Police Department. That cover made a statement that this new publication intended to make a difference in this city, that it was willing to take on sensitive issues such as affirmative-action rollbacks under the Young administration. It said that this was going to be more than just another entertainment booster that many weekly alternatives were. Sure, we’ve got art, but we take our news just as seriously.

Affirmative action was a tough issue in 1980 — and it still is. The University of Michigan faces a day in court to defend its affirmative action policies. Other issues are still with us. One early headline, “WDET at the Crossroads,” examines a plan by former underground radio station WABX-FM (99.5) to trade with public radio WDET-FM (101.9) for its more desirable dial position at great financial gain to WDET owner Wayne State University. The same idea was recently floated: WSU should sell its bandwidth and move to the less desirable spot on the dial occupied by WDTR-FM (90.9). Another déjà vu story was on gentrification of the Woodbridge neighborhood. It’s been a slow train coming because gentrification of Woodbridge and other areas is still news.

Arts and entertainment were part of the mix. There’s a story on the lack of support for the New Wave scene and bands such as the Algebra Mothers (A-Moms), Retro and the Mutants. Reggae star Jimmy Cliff appeared on the cover, as did activist-folkie Holly Near. A tribute to Joe Louis after his death looked at his toughest opponent — racism.

Eastern Market, the local folk scene, even the Detroit Tigers (with up-and-coming heroes Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker) garnered coverage in that first year. Even a short teaser on the cover for a Busboys show at Bookies gave me a nostalgic flush. I was at that show when the Busboys were one of the hottest acts around. Which is all to say that for many, the Metro Times is a diary of some killer moments in our lives. We like that.

Bigger numbers

Aargh! This is what happens when wordsmiths get involved with numbers. In last week’s editor’s note I wrote that we have more than 200,000 weekly readers. That wasn’t quite accurate. The MT readership, according to Media Audit, is 335,600 each week. On a monthly basis 594,800 different people read the MT. What threw me was the fact that of those monthly readers, 211,100 do not read a daily newspaper.

More by Larry Gabriel

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