"People Who Matter"
By Lesli Bales-Sherrod
Maryville Daily Times
Occupation: Owner and general manager of Truth Radio, 1470 AM
Community Service: National Day of Prayer, Prayer Chain for Life
Favorite Book: The Bible
Favorite CD or Music: Presently, Bluegrass Gospel
Favorite Food: "Quality, not quantity."
Harry Grothjahn is sometimes a journalist and sometimes an activist.
His radio station, however, is "always politically incorrect," he said.
"People are in business to make money, but Im in business to make a difference," insisted Grothjahn, owner and general manager of Truth Radio, 1470 AM. "I try to demonstrate how a Christian would respond to the culture in a post-Christian area. I am trying to honestly report the facts to get to the truth because the truth is what sets men free."
Grothjahn, 60, felt convicted to leave his career as a financial planner because he was convinced that his clients were using him as "a means to lay up their treasures here instead of in Heaven." A book he read in 1989, "The Coming Battle for the Media," led him to write a marketing plan for the local radio station, which he and his wife purchased in 1995.
"It gave me the opportunity to create the always politically incorrect Truth Radio," he said. "Its local radio with a world view."
Grothjahn uses mostly satellite programming and tries to give listeners news "to balance their diet of propaganda."
"The lies are mostly told in the national media," Grothjahn noted. "Probably the biggest story that has not been allowed (in the mainstream media) is the depleted uranium that is being used by our troops in weapons in Iraq."
To that end, Grothjahn airs a show twice a day by Capt. Joyce Riley, founder of the Gulf Wars Veterans Association. Riley has made a video of government documents that explain how the government has been experimenting with radioactive elements on U.S. troops since 1948 without their permission and without them knowing the consequences, he said.
"Its just like Agent Orange during the Vietnam era," said Grothjahn, who spent six years in the Army during Vietnam. "(Veterans) are coming back with multiple health issues that are not acknowledged by the military. The Department of Defense and Veterans Administration are calling it a mystery disease, when 248,000 vets in Iraq are dying or losing their heath from what is clearly radioactive poisoning."
Grothjahn also tries to get to the truth on local issues by covering government meetings, particularly the Blount County Commission and Blount County school board, and then commenting on those meetings during his weekday morning "Trade-in Time," during which he trades listeners "the truth for the lies."
"My main concern is simply to have accountable government so that people are informed as to what the decisions being made are and why," he said. "I am able to give my listeners the issues in a user-friendly manner."
Grothjahn also gives out the names and telephone numbers of local politicians he feels are "in need of education from the people" whose money they are spending.
"Its one thing to be conservative with your own money, but it is very difficult to be conservative, apparently, with other peoples money," he said, his financial planning background shining through.
Grothjahn laments the mainstream medias lack of questioning the government.
"I dont feel that theres as much investigative reporting that needs to be done, but there is not enough competition in the news business that would force the news to do more than report what the government wants the public to know instead of what the citizen needs to know," he explained. "Theres a story I would have liked to have researched: why the countys financial statements arent on the Internet so that monthly citizens could see whos being paid for the doing the countys business. If I had had more time ... ."
Grothjahn doesnt just investigate matters for his radio show, however. He also has been known to speak out at meetings.
"When I see an issue that is going to impact the quality of life or liberty in our community that requires a change in the direction of the past performance of the County Commission or the school board, I will act," he said. "Because, you see, it is the quality of life and liberty that is being destroyed by the secular humanist philosophy of looking at decisions from a worlds view instead of a Christian view that has gotten the world and community where we are."
Grothjahn's list of accomplishments as an activist goes on and on, dating back to before he ever owned Truth Radio.
In 1986, he created the Blount County Chapter of the American Family Association and picketed video stores that were displaying adult videos with their regular material. In 1991, the group started the first Prayer Chain for Life, and in 1992, Grothjahn and his wife hosted the first National Day of Prayer Service on the courthouse steps.
But perhaps Grothjahns most notorious act was flying the American flag upside down during President Clintons impeachment. It was a gesture that led to his flags and even his flagpole being stolen.
Grothjahn said the act of distress was in response to what he viewed as a constitutional crisis: Clinton allegedly giving nuclear warhead technology to China. It was not in response to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he stressed.
"The dominant media deceives the public with this entertainment while the selling of our nuclear warhead technology to communist China went unreported," Grothjahn explained. "With a treasonous president, it was going to take something pretty outrageous to cover it up. I believe thats called wag the dog."
In addition to his personal activism, Grothjahn has introduced legislation to the County Commission. In 2003, the Commission passed Grothjahns resolution supporting the restoration of the Bill of Rights, which he felt was threatened by the Patriot Act.
"Those who came in front of the commission in an agitated state could be considered an enemy combatant and taken to the torture chambers of George W. Bush and company," Grothjahn noted.
He most recently devised a way to use the hotel/motel tax revenues to pay for the countys portion of the proposed civic arts center. The proposal will be discussed by the County Commission on Feb. 16.
"They should have a manager for the civic arts center whose salary and bonuses are subject to a successful execution of a business plan before the county authorizes the spending," Grothjahn said. "That same business-like approach should be given the fairgrounds or any business venture that would take taxpayers money."
Now Grothjahn is taking his ideas to the campaign trail with a run for Blount County mayor. He has launched campaigns for school board and state senator before, he said, "when there was no moral alternative to the status quo being presented on the ballot."
In the end, Grothjahn does not see his activism as a conflict with his job on the radio.
"I am being public and honest about my editorial position, and we all have them," he said. "If you listen to my news, you might want to filter out that I am a born-again Christian grandfather who has the spiritual condition of his familys souls and his community in focus. But I think its fulfilling an important service."