Ted Williams

PNNscholar1 - Posted on 15 January 2011

Revolutionary Worker Scholar

Ted Williams

A voice, sometimes it’s a prayer without words, sometimes a whisper. Other times its words written on the walls of your mind without the luxury of pen and paper—words that sometimes bleed onto the skin of a piece of cardboard. I saw you on youtube, holding a cardboard sign that read: I have a God given gift of voice. I’m an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please! Any help will be greatly appreciated. You spoke in a radio announcer’s voice, you smiled. The gift was still there, still flowing in your veins—the fire still there. The video, shot by a local newspaper reporter, has been seen by millions of people in this country and around the world. Your voice is beautiful. You have been called the homeless man with the golden voice. Your face is being shown all over. Your voice is written in the brown black skin of your face.

I too worked in corporate/commercial radio. You had the voice I always wanted to have. You spoke about having worked as a morning drive announcer. That was my dream. I wanted that rich voice, a voice that flowed like water over rocks. I studied broadcasting in school, practicing my enunciation and vocal delivery for hours in a room the size of a walk-in closet. But when I finally got to the microphone, I would stumble over my words with a bowlegged tongue. I wanted so badly to have that announcer’s voice--that polish with all its resonance. But when I listened to the playback, it wasn’t there. I was no Ted Williams. I was a guy with a bowlegged tongue and a voice that was given to him by the creator. I worked as an announcer in small towns like Stockton, Napa and Vallejo, California—stumbling my way through the overnight shift and the farm report. You worked morning drive at a station in Columbus, Ohio before drugs and alcohol became "a part of your life". That’s what you told that reporter on youtube. But you didn’t have to. It was written in your face.

You once spoke to thousands on their way to work, in their cars and in the everyday sequence of events known as life by way of that miracle called radio. They never saw your face. When you left the microphone to battle addiction on the streets, how many of those people you spoke to in their cars passed you by? If they only knew it was you. They didn’t know you…didn’t know your face. What was it that was written in the skin of your memory? What of your mother and children? How long had it been since you saw them? Things happen to deep in the past, words are said that are broadcast over and over in the heart and mind. You disappeared from the microphone and in the white noise silence of your absence, your calloused hands and feet walked the streets of cities abandoned by corporate machines whose voices perpetuate lies about communities of color, migrant communities and communities in struggle. You were out there surviving and thinking of your mother. The shame you carried could not be covered by a golden voice. It is in your face.

Your face is being shown on national TV, in newspapers and on blogs across the country. The homeless man with the golden voice is getting job offers from radio stations—including an offer to do voice work for the Cleveland Cavaliers and NFL films. You recently appeared on the Today Show. You had a haircut and new clothes. Your story was seen by millions. You awed the hosts with your vocal prowess. One of the hosts asked you to speak in deep tones. "How low can you go?" she asked. Then you were reunited with your mother after 20 years. She said she had prayed that you would find God and turn your life around. There you were, together. Then came the commercial break.

You’ve been given a place to live and your voice was recently heard on a commercial for Kraft Macaroni and cheese during the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl game. So much attention overnight but not really overnight; the cold nights, the moments when the only voice you heard was in the deep moans in your belly—your mother, your children--their voices. What happens when the commercials end, when the cameras are off—when the only thing you hear is your voice—your true voice, the one that is written in your face?

There are people that will surely ask why a man whose been living on the streets has 9 children. I think of the words of Boriqua poet Piri Thomas who wrote:

Our children are beauty with a right to be born/ born anew at each A.M./ like a child out of twilight flying towards sunlight/ born anew at each A.M./ At each A.M./ punto

You have survived with your voice intact, trying to keep your mind, heart and soul together. You know the fleeting nature of corporate media. Just as soon as you’re in the door, you could be tossed out without a day’s notice. Your years of media and poverty scholarship give you deep knowledge of this.

Your voice, your gift is now being heard by millions of people and the opportunities are presenting themselves. You credit God for this. You appear to have a good spirit and humble soul. There are millions whose voices are not heard—migrant peoples and homeless/landless elders and children whose lands and cultures are stripped by corporations who perpetuate lies about poor people in struggle.

POOR Magazine produces revolutionary media based on our indigenous newsmaking circle—creating and providing access to communities and people whose voices are intentionally silenced by corporate media.

We honor your struggle and your voice gives strength to our struggle of making our voices heard. We want you to know that there is a place for you—your poverty and media scholarship—at POOR Magazine in our indigenous media circle as a teacher/mentor and announcer with POOR News Network revolutionary radio (www.poormagazine.org)--where all voices are heard and honored. We hear your voice here in San Francisco rising up like fire. Punto.



© 2011



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