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(News) British media avoid Indiana because of swine flu

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The BBC international call-in show World Have Your Say, which was recently added to the expanded news lineup on 90.1 WFYI at 1 p.m. weekdays, planned to visit Indiana for the last three days of this week, hosting live public conversations with in Kokomo Wednesday and in Indianapolis Thursday and Friday. That is, until the swine flu hit.

As you'll hear in the video below, the show was in Mexico City yesterday, where they had intended to talk about the drug trade with a live audience numbering 30. Instead, the show was conducted with far fewer guests (only four at a time), most of whom were wearing masks. And, of course, the topic was the swine flu, with some discussion about the 6.0 earthquake that struck just moments before the show went on the air.

(Listening to the show, I was reminded of Orson Welles' radio adaptation of War of the Worlds, which was infamous for terrorizing thousands of listeners who thought that Martians were indeed invading the Earth, fooled by the faux-documentary structure of the broadcast - which was jettisoned for a first-person, last-man-on-earth monologue later in the radio play, but those who were already panicked weren't listening too closely for signs of artifice. During those last moments when the Martians marched through New York City, killing off the populace with poison gas, one intrepid reporter, poised atop a roof where he can look down upon the creeping cloud, narrates the end of mankind as we know it.

On Monday, the swine flu had struck Mexico City, BBC presenter Ros Atkins reporting that there was only a trickle street traffic in a famously congested city. And while the earthquake hadn't done any damage in Mexico City, it had certainly shaken those gathered on the rooftop for the show - maybe it was the odd choice of broadcasting the show from the rooftop of an office building, apparently made well in advance of the visit, that prompted me to think of that Welles radio play. I at least got the feeling that I was listening to a talk show recorded in a much more dangerous setting that the hyperbolically-sealed bunker in which Limbaugh resides.)

Regardless, much of the team that broadcasts World Have Your Say won't make it to Indiana. As Atkins explains in the video embedded below, he didn't want to have to explain to Kokomo or Indianapolis residents that he had just been to Mexico City, and then answer all health-related questions that would follow. I imagine I'd feel uncomfortable if someone interviewed me while wearing a blue surgical mask.

But, as Atkins also says, broadcasts will continue from Indiana. Other show personnel are already in Indiana, and will handle live hosting duties. One show representative has already started blogging from Kokomo (and if you take a look at the comments posted to one of her entries, you'll note that someone dubiously takes her to task for the way in which she presents the town).

The blog: http://worldhaveyoursay.wordpress.com/

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