I still remember the first "official" letter I ever wrote. I was 12.
It was to the BMG Music Club, a long-defunct company. Folks my age will no doubt remember this club as the one which sent you eight tapes for just 1 cent.
The catch? Valued club members were sent monthly cards promoting the Selection of the Month. If you wanted this red-hot selection, it was simple. Do nothing and it would be mailed to you automatically.
But, if you didn't want the Selection of the Month, you had to mail back the card in order to stop it. It was a monthly source of aggravation.
As you'd expect, I eventually forgot to send back the card and was mailed a Selection of the Month which I hated. It was a Culture Club tape with Boy George on the cover.
Since I didn't want this tape, my parents, in their wisdom, suggested I write BMG and tell them about my silly oversight of not mailing in the monthly card. They had visions of some BMG executive crying over my letter and agreeing to let me return the tape without charge.
Long story short, I eventually received a return letter from BMG which essentially said, "Ha, ha, ha. Stop your pouting and pay up, kid!"
My first official letter comes to mind after I was stopped by a pal Wednesday at USA Gym and asked why I don't publish more Letters to the Editor. My response was because I don't receive very many.
In fact, there are routinely long stretches, sometimes as long as a month, where I don't receive a single Letter to the Editor. Not one. This makes it difficult to publish one.
From my perch, I love the Letters to the Editor section. If I had enough letters, I would publish one every single edition.
Hearing from readers and getting their insight is welcome feedback. I constantly write my thoughts in the paper. I'm always eager to hear what someone else has to say. It helps the newspaper be a community bulletin board, which I think it should be.
In newspaper seminars I've attended, speakers have talked about how the Letters to the Editor section is among the most popular in the newspaper. Readers enjoy hearing from other readers, these newspaper experts say, and I agree completely.
The inherent problem I encounter is we here at the Standard have not been blessed with an abundance of letter writers over the years. If I were to estimate, I'd say five or six people write 90 percent of all our letters.
This is something I'd love to change and that's why I'm closing this week's column with the following message of encouragement.
Take a few minutes and write a Letter to the Editor. I'm sure you have opinions clanging around inside your head so put those thoughts to paper and let your voice be heard.
I still remember my letter to BMG many years ago. It didn't work in getting my money back, but it was nice to be heard.
The best part is you don't even have to leave your house or pay postage. Email your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.