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We Deliver the Goods

New World A-Coming

We Deliver the Goods

Dec 17 1944






CAST:

ANNOUNCER

JOHNNY

UNION DISPATCHER (2 lines)

BEAVER

WHITEY

ANDY

BRIDGE VOICE (1 line)

NAZI COMMANDER

NAZI GUNMAN

NEGRO SEAMAN (1 line)


and VOICES of UNION MEMBERS and SHIPS' CREWS








MUSIC: THEME 


ANNOUNCER: With the sweep and fury of the resurrection--


MUSIC: ACCENT


ANNOUNCER: --there's a "New World a-Coming"!


MUSIC: THEME FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN IN BACKGROUND


ANNOUNCER: Today, and every Sunday at this hour, WMCA, in cooperation with the City-Wide Citizen's Committee on Harlem, brings you a series of vivid programs on Negro life, based on the theme of Roi Ottley's book "New World A-Coming." Today, the dramatic story titled "We Deliver the Goods" -- featuring Charles Perry as Johnny Vincent, Negro merchant seaman in the National Maritime Union -- written, produced and directed by Mitchell Grayson.


MUSIC: UP AND OUT


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) I've been a member of the National Maritime Union since it was first organized in Nineteen Thirty-Seven. I started sailing aboard ships about eight years ago as an ordinary seaman. Today, I'm an Able Seaman. My name's Johnny Vincent, and a couple of days ago I had a birthday. I was twenty-eight. Now, a hundred and fifty years ago, the Founding Fathers of my country wrote, "All men are created equal." Well, my union believes that. And that's why, in the union hiring hall, no matter if you're black, white, Mexican, Spanish, Chinese, or just plain American, jobs are handed out democratically, with no favoritism for anyone. And no shakedowns either. 


SOUND: UNION HALL HUBBUB 


UNION DISPATCHER: (FILTER) One job open for an AB aboard an oil tanker now in Argent or North River. It's sailin' today, brothers. So step up with your registration book. The brother who's been in port the longest time since his last ship gets the job. All right, I have one registration book dated November the fourth. Here's another one dated October twenty-eighth. (OVERLAPS WITH FOLLOWING LINE) Any others ready for the job? The last date is October twenty-eighth. Anyone registered before October twenty-eighth has the job. Anyone else? Anyone else? Let's get this tanker moving, brothers. Let's deliver the goods and help lick the Nazis off this map.


JOHNNY: (OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE, NARRATES) I was in the union hall that day. I'd returned from my last voyage on October twenty-first and I was ready to ship out again. I went up to the dispatching window, showed my card. If no one had come up with a card dated earlier than mine, I'd get the job.


UNION DISPATCHER: (FILTER) All right, I've got another card. October twenty-first. The job is going. Anyone else? (NO ANSWER) That's all. The job is going, going. The job is taken. 


MUSIC: BRIDGE


SOUND: SHIP SIGNAL HORN 


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) I reported to the vessel with all my necessary papers. The ship was lying out in the North River, and it had its sailing flag flying on the mast. It was kind of a low-slung tanker with most of its hull buried deep in the water. Now, the minute I came aboard, something happened that I'd never experienced before. One loudmouth guy started to squawk. 


BEAVER: Hey! Hey, wait a minute! What are you doin' on this ship?! 


JOHNNY: I just signed on. Why? 


BEAVER: Signed on? How'd you get the job? 


JOHNNY: In the regular way. From the union. Why? 


BEAVER: The union sent you to work on this ship? 


JOHNNY: Yeah. Anything wrong with it? 


BEAVER: What's goin' on down there? Don't they have any more white men? 


JOHNNY: I don't get you, brother. 


BEAVER: Don't "brother" me! There's an all-white crew sailin' on this ship. 


JOHNNY: Are you objecting to my sailing? 


BEAVER: Objectin'? Why, listen, you. This tanker won't move out of this harbor if you're on it. There's no checkerboard crew on this ship.


WHITEY: Hey, hey, hey. What's all the row? What's up? 


BEAVER: Look, Whitey! Look what the union sent us! 


WHITEY: Now, take it easy, Beaver. What's the beef? 


BEAVER: What's the--?! Just this! I won't have this guy sharin' my foc'sle. If he sails, it means he takes the empty bunk. And that's in my foc'sle. I've never had a one o' his kind sleepin' in the same room with me. 


WHITEY: Is that what the argument's about? 


BEAVER: There's no argument! That's what I'm tellin' ya! 


WHITEY: Now, keep your shirt on, Beaver! You're makin' an awful lot out of 

nothin'. 


BEAVER: What? You want him to sail on this ship? 


WHITEY: I got nothin' against him. He's an AB. The crew's short one AB. He sails. 


BEAVER: Nothin doin', Whitey! Not while I'm on this ship! I'm from the South, and that's final!


MUSIC: BRIDGE 


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) Whitey was the union delegate aboard the ship, and this problem was outside his jurisdiction. The union patrolman would have to settle it. He's the fellow who has a regular beat on the waterfront, and it's his job to settle whatever disputes come up on vessels docked in the harbor. Patrolman Andy Walker came aboard and, after he heard Beaver's story, he looked at him with a puzzled expression. 


ANDY: How'd you get aboard this ship? Don't you know the union rules?


BEAVER: Yeah, yeah, I do. 


ANDY: Did you read 'em? 


BEAVER: I read 'em. 


ANDY: Don't you know that we don't discriminate in our union? How long you been a member? 


BEAVER: Couple o' years. 


ANDY: Let's see your book. 


BEAVER: Oh, here it is. It's all paid up, too. 


ANDY: Mm hmm. This your name? Elwood P. Beaver? 


BEAVER: Yeah. 


ANDY: Now, look here, Brother Beaver. This union fought on the picket line to win every point in its constitution. When we become members of the union, we accept the whole constitution, not parts of it. You ever read the constitution? 


BEAVER: I don't know. I guess so. 


ANDY: Yeah, well, let me read you Page Three, Section Three. Here's what it says. (READS) "It is the object of the National Maritime Union to unite in one organization -- regardless of creed, color, sex, nationality or political affiliation -- all workers eligible for membership in the maritime industry." (TO BEAVER) That's the law -- all workers -- regardless of color. Now, do you want to sail or do you want to pile off the wagon? 


BEAVER: Well, I don't know--


ANDY: Make up your mind, brother, because if you want to get off this ship you can! The whole crew can get off! Now, Brother Johnny here's gonna sail!


BEAVER: (MILDLY DEFIANT) What if I don't sail? 


ANDY: Well, you turn in your book and the union'll bring you up on charges. 


BEAVER: What charges? 


ANDY: Breakin' the laws in the constitution of the union. 


BEAVER: And then? 


ANDY: That's all, brother. You'll be thrown out. 


BEAVER: Gee, I don't know--


ANDY: Now what's your answer? Sail or pile off? 


BEAVER: (RELUCTANT) I'll sail. 


ANDY: Okay. And remember to keep your mouth shut about your phony race theories. Just do your work as you're supposed ta. Here's your book. I wish you a pleasant trip. 


MUSIC: BRIDGE 


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) A few minutes later, we sail out of the harbor to join a convoy across the Atlantic. During the day, I did a lot of thinking about Beaver. And when nighttime came, before turning in, I went down to Whitey's cabin. Whitey was an old hand at sailing, and his bunk was nicely fixed, with a portable radio on the shelf playing some waltz music. 


MUSIC: RADIO PLAYS A WALTZ  


JOHNNY: When I came in, he was lying on his bed, smoking a pipe. 


WHITEY: Oh, hiya, Johnny. Sit down. Sit down. Make yourself comfortable.


JOHNNY: Thanks, Whitey. 


WHITEY: (YAWNS, STRETCHES) Oh, boy. Pretty smooth sailin' tonight, isn't it? 


JOHNNY: Yeah, nice night. 


WHITEY: Hey, do you mind the music? 


JOHNNY: Oh, no, I like it. 


WHITEY: Oh, good. 


JOHNNY: Whitey, I came here to ask you a favor. 


WHITEY: Sure. What is it? 


JOHNNY: I, eh-- I'd like to get switched out of Beaver's foc'sle. 


WHITEY: Has he been makin' a fuss again? 


JOHNNY: Well, no. This is my own idea. We're gonna be on this trip for about sixty days. I don't like to make trouble for anybody. I like to get along with all the guys. Besides, I don't believe we can win him over by sluggin' him. Maybe by workin' on him, yeah, but not by forcing him to do something against his will. 


WHITEY: Yeah, yeah, I get ya. You wanna change bunks, huh? 


JOHNNY: Yeah, Whitey. You see, if I keep my head and show Beaver that I'm not sore at him, and maybe at the right time open up a decent conversation with him--


WHITEY: Uh huh.


JOHNNY: You know, get him to talk; show him there's no sensible reason why he should feel the way he does. Then, maybe, he might break down and lose some of his phony Mint Julep ideas. 


WHITEY: Do you think it's worth workin' on him? 


JOHNNY: Yes, I do. 


WHITEY: Well, Johnny, if you wanna -- okay. Here, you can have my bunk. I'll move into yours. And - I'll try workin' on him, too. 


MUSIC: WALTZ UP AND OUT ... FOR A QUICK TRANSITION


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) But changing sleeping quarters didn't change Beaver's attitude. Every time he'd come into the mess room, he'd sit at another table with his back toward me. On deck, he'd never say, "Hello." He'd walk past me looking sullenly the other way. One day, about a week after we'd been out at sea, I decided to have a talk with him. He was on lookout up at forward deck.


SOUND: SHIP BACKGROUND ... DECK BELLS, WIND AND WATER, ET CETERA


JOHNNY: Say, Beaver. Uh, what have you got against me anyhow? 


BEAVER: I don't have anything against ya. 


JOHNNY: You act like you do. 


BEAVER: Listen, Johnny. I was born in Virginia. We've got a certain way of livin' down there. 


JOHNNY: Yeah, I know about that. 


BEAVER: And as long as I'm doin' my job aboard this ship, nobody's got nothin' to complain about. 


JOHNNY: (PAUSE) You know, Beaver, I'm a Negro, and you're white. You hate me only because I'm a Negro, that's all. You hate all Negroes. I know; that's the way a lot of you've been taught all your life in the South. But I don't hate you, even though I have better cause for hate than you have. Listen, Beaver -- my brother was lynched by some whites in the South. 


BEAVER: Lynched? 


JOHNNY: Lynched. After the last war. He was a soldier, and he was lynched in Washington, D.C. -- the nation's capital, the heart of America's democracy. But I don't hate all white men because a few of them happen to be vicious and rotten to all the people of my race. 


BEAVER: You can feel anyway you like. That's your privilege. 


JOHNNY: We're making a long trip, Beaver. A lot could happen on this trip. 


BEAVER: Like what, for instance? 


JOHNNY: Well, this ship is part of a convoy. German submarines are searching for us in wolf packs. A torpedo could smack this ship at any time. And a whole lot of us could go under with it. 


BEAVER: What are you tryin' to prove?! 


JOHNNY: Nothing special. 


MUSIC: BRIDGE ... TO DENOTE PASSAGE OF TIME 


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) About three days later, we were sailing along quietly, nothing unusual happening. Then, suddenly a voice on the bridge 'midships yelled out. 


BRIDGE VOICE: Submarine! Torpedo! Port side! Submarine! Torpedo! Port side!


SOUND: VOICES IN CHAOS ... SIREN ... EXPLOSION 


MUSIC: BRIDGE


SOUND: VOICES IN CHAOS, IN BACKGROUND


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) It hit us. The tin fish tore into the port side with a terrific crash. A seam opened, and oil and flame gushed out. Then a belt of flame roared out of the ventilators. To my right, I saw an elderly deck hand standing motionless, frozen with fear. The flames came up and caught him and burned all the clothes off his body, even his shoes. The last I saw of him, his body was charred and black, his hair and eyebrows burned off. All the lifeboats on the port side were blown into the water. Then Whitey came running up the deck shouting to me. But it was hard to hear him. 


WHITEY: Johnny! Johnny! Are you hurt?! Are you hurt?! 


JOHNNY: (HYSTERICAL) Look at him, Whitey, he's burned! He's burned! 


WHITEY: C'mon, kid, snap out of it! Snap out of it, will ya?! 


JOHNNY: The sub -- did you see the size of it? 


WHITEY: (RAPIDLY) No. Come on, dive over! Make for the lifeboats! Hurry up! Stay clear of the hole in the ship or you'll get sucked in; now, dive! Dive, I tell ya!


JOHNNY: Stick with me, Whitey -- we'll make it! Stick with me!


WHITEY: I'm stickin' with ya! Come on, hurry up! Get over there now; come on!


MUSIC: VIOLENTLY TOPS THE SCENE ... BRIDGE ... GROWS CALM, THEN OUT


SOUND: WATER LAPS AGAINST LIFE RAFT FLOATING AT SEA 


JOHNNY: There goes the last ship of our convoy.


WHITEY: They - they didn't stop. They didn't stop to pick us up. 


JOHNNY: They couldn't. It's their job to get through. 


WHITEY: Yeah, sure. 


JOHNNY: Are you all right now? 


WHITEY: I guess so. I can't see yet. Oil's still in my eyes. Those dirty German subs. 


JOHNNY: Want some more water? 


WHITEY: No, not yet. Hey, Johnny, you see any other lifeboats nearby? 


JOHNNY: Yeah, two. Up ahead. Empty. 


BEAVER: (WAILS WORDLESSLY FOR HELP IN THE DISTANCE)


JOHNNY: Listen! 


WHITEY: What's that? 


JOHNNY: You hear somethin'? 


WHITEY: I can't see, but-- Hey, somebody's out there. 


JOHNNY: It's Beaver! I see him. 


WHITEY: Where? 


JOHNNY: Here, take these oars.  


WHITEY: Okay.


JOHNNY: All right?  


WHITEY: Yeah.


JOHNNY: Now, together. Pull! 


WHITEY: Pull!


JOHNNY: Pull!  


WHITEY: Come on. 


SOUND: OARS IN WATER


JOHNNY: Pull! Pull! Pull!


MUSIC: BRIEF BRIDGE 


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) We just made it in time. Had we lingered another few minutes it would have been too late. Beaver was exhausted when I put my hand over the side of the boat and grabbed his hand. My strength was almost gone, too. My body was aching from fatigue. My head was splitting from the strain. And it was freezing, cold and miserable. But Beaver in the bottom of the boat kept muttering. 


BEAVER: (SHIVERS) Thanks - Thanks - Thanks -


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) Then, suddenly, without warning, the submarine that sank our ship surfaced dangerously close to the bow of our life raft. 


SOUND: SUBMARINE SURFACES


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) I yelled like blazes, putting my hands out to try to keep it from ramming us. The conning tower opened and a German officer got out, followed by a seaman armed with a machine gun. The Nazi commander addressed us in very good English. 


NAZI COMMANDER: Where's your captain?! 


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) Whitey regained his sight. He took one look at the swastika on the conning tower, then spit at it. 


WHITEY: (SPITS LOUDLY)


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) The officer was looking at me when he did it. But Whitey answered him. 


NAZI COMMANDER: I said, where's your captain?! 


WHITEY: He's visitin' his sister in Brooklyn! 


NAZI COMMANDER: What's that?! What did you say?!


WHITEY: Where the hell do you think he is?! Where you put him! Take your submarine down to the bottom of the ocean and you'll find him! 


NAZI COMMANDER: What are you?! An officer of the crew?! 


WHITEY: No, I'm the union delegate. NMU! 


NAZI COMMANDER: Shoot him! 


SOUND: MACHINE GUN FIRE 


WHITEY: (SCREAMS) Ahhh! Why, you dirty--! 


NAZI COMMANDER: (BARKS A COMMAND IN GERMAN)


NAZI GUNMAN: Ja, mein kapitan! Achtung! Jawohl! 


MUSIC: BRIDGE 


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) Would you like to know what thoughts ran through my mind when those shots were fired into Whitey's body? I'll tell you. Anyone who says it's easy being a merchant seaman in this war ought to sign up for a course at Sheepshead Bay and become one. I thought of a columnist, who kept harping for a long time on all the money we were making out of the war. If this columnist really wants to know the truth, at the end of a year our salary amounts to about the same as a guy in the Army and Navy. And I thought of our mission again and again. We'll deliver the goods. That's what I thought. Deliver the goods and win the war. But all that vanished from my mind when the U-Boat disappeared, and I saw Whitey clutching his chest with both hands. Two bullets pierced his body. I guess, even he knew he was done for after that. But he hung on for two days. And then he said he wanted to talk to Beaver. 


SOUND: WIND AND WAVES ... IN BACKGROUND


WHITEY: (COUGHS, GASPS) Beaver? Beaver? 


BEAVER: Yeah, Whitey?


WHITEY: I guess I'll - I'll soon shove off.


BEAVER: Not yet, Whitey. Hold on a little longer. We'll make it, all of us 

together. 


WHITEY: No, not me, Beaver. (COUGHS) Listen, you and Johnny are gonna be all alone in the boat after ya dump me over. You can't be any closer to another guy than in a little boat and what I wanna say is if ya take the trouble-- (COUGHS) 


BEAVER: Easy, Whitey. Easy. 


WHITEY: I was sayin', if ya take the trouble to know a guy -- any guy, white or black -- then you can make up your mind whether he's okay or - or he's no good. (COUGHS) You didn't give Johnny a chance. 


BEAVER: Look, Whitey, ya ain't got much strength to talk. 


WHITEY: (SLOWLY DYING) I want to tell ya somethin' else, Beaver. You owe your life to a Negro. To Johnny Vincent. He put out his hand, a colored hand, and he took your hand, a white hand, and he pulled ya - out of the - water. (GURGLES AND EXPIRES) 


BEAVER: (TENSE) Whitey? (NO ANSWER) Whitey?! (NO ANSWER) Whitey


MUSIC: BRIDGE 


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) We kept Whitey's body with us for a day and a night, and then another day, hoping we'd be rescued. We hoped we could give him a proper burial ceremony at sea, but no rescue ships came. And so, we had to throw him overboard. We drifted for eight days, and then a squall came up and damaged our boat. It started to leak so badly that Beav and I had to stand watch, bailing out the water. Bailing it out, bailing it out. I'd just finished one watch and Beaver took over the empty can and started bailing and talking at the same time. 


SOUND: BAILING WATER


BEAVER: Think we'll pull through, Johnny?


JOHNNY: Never give up hope, Beaver. 


BEAVER: (CHUCKLES) That's odd. Just what I wanted to hear ya say. (BEAT) Johnny, I - I've been quiet. I think you know why, don't ya? 


JOHNNY: No, I can't say I do. 


BEAVER: I've been thinkin' it through, tryin' to reason the thing out, tryin' to make sense out of a bunch of stupid, prejudiced ideas. And it can't be done. How'd I ever fall for such terrible ideas about Negroes?


JOHNNY: Perhaps you - never gave yourself a chance to speak to a Negro. 


BEAVER: That's one reason, I guess. My father's to blame for that. He drummed it into me. "The white man must rule. Never give a Negro a chance or he'll step all over ya. Let 'em do things differently up North, but, down South, a Southerner will remain a Southerner."


JOHNNY: Some people have taught that way for hundreds of years. They've been educated that way. They have no other kind of teaching but that. 


BEAVER: It's wrong! It's viciously wrong. My father's to blame, and his father before him, all the way down the line. The community I lived in, the city, the state, and all the white schools in the South, teachin' us that there's one drinkin' fountain for Negroes and another one for whites. Negro walks on one side of the street, and a white man walks on the other. "White supremacy" it's called. 


JOHNNY: Hitler gives it another name -- "Nordic supremacy." But it's the same idea.


BEAVER: Yeah. Yeah, that's it. It's never been so clear to me before. Imagine how awful dumb I was not to know how wrong I was. Whitey said it. "Give yourself a chance to know a man, white or black, and then decide if he's okay or not." Seems so simple. 


JOHNNY: Beaver! Look!  


BEAVER: What? 


SOUND: BAILING BUCKET DROPS


JOHNNY: A convoy! Headed straight for our boat! 


BEAVER: Gosh, they came out o' nowhere. 


JOHNNY: Look at 'em! Those are our ships! 


SOUND: SIGNAL HORN ... DISTANT


BEAVER: They see us! They're signalin'! They see us! 


JOHNNY: We're saved, Beaver! We're saved! 


BEAVER: They'll pick us up, won't they? 


JOHNNY: Sure, they've got to! We're American seaman; they've gotta pick us up!


BEAVER: Let's wave to 'em! 


JOHNNY: (YELLS) Hey! Hey, here we are! Come and get us! Here we are! Hey! Hey! 


SOUND: SIGNAL HORN ... CLOSER


BEAVER: They're coming closer! (YELLS) Here we are! Here we are! Here! 


JOHNNY: Hey! Hey! 


BEAVER: Here we are! 


JOHNNY: Hey, fellas! 


BEAVER: (PAUSE, WEAKLY) Johnny, they - they've passed us. They're not gonna stop for us. 


JOHNNY: (YELLS, DESPERATE) Hey, fellas! Stop! Stop! We're from the NMU! The NMU! NMU!


BEAVER: Johnny -- it's no use. They're all goin' past us. 


JOHNNY: (CALMLY) Yeah. They probably can't stop. Or they think we're part of a German trick to make 'em stop. 


BEAVER: Yeah. Yeah, they're goin' through. 


JOHNNY: Take a look at that American flag on the last ship, Beaver. It's probably the last time you'll ever see that flag. 


MUSIC: BRIEF MOURNFUL BRIDGE ... THEN IN BACKGROUND, OUT AT [X]


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) Fate smiled at us only for a few seconds, then our hearts sank in complete despair. The chances of seeing another convoy were a hundred to one. But then, suddenly, we heard two blasts from a ship's fog horn--


SOUND: TWO BLASTS FROM A SIGNAL HORN 


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) --and the last vessel turned around in a hundred and eighty degree arc and steamed full speed in our direction. [X] It came alongside and picked us up.


SOUND: SHIP'S CREW CHEERS ... IN BACKGROUND


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) The crew cheered as we were lifted aboard the ship. We were saved! We were saved! 


MUSIC: BRIDGE 


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) Aboard that ship was the greatest mixed crew I'd ever seen. They had Chinese, Mexicans, South Americans, Negroes, whites, Portuguese, all American seaman. After we'd had a few hours rest, one Negro sailor came down and performed a little ceremony for us. 


NEGRO SEAMAN: Here, I've got these two top seaman emblems from a couple o' guys of the ship, a Dutchman and a Negro. They want me, as a union delegate, to pin these medals on you. We're glad you made it, brothers. Glad you made it.


JOHNNY: (NARRATES) Brothers, he said. Yes, that's what we call ourselves in the NMU. Brothers. And to prove it, Beaver, who was resting in the bed alongside mine, again offered his hand to me and said--


BEAVER: Let's shake on that, Brother Johnny. Next trip we make, how 'bout sailin' together? 


JOHNNY: And share the same room? 


BEAVER: You said it. The only way. 


JOHNNY: Okay. Together -- we'll deliver the goods. 


MUSIC: FINISH ... THEN IN BACKGROUND, OUT AT [X]


SOUND: BRIEF APPLAUSE 


ANNOUNCER: You've been listening to a dramatization entitled "We Deliver the Goods," dedicated to the merchant seamen in the National Maritime Union. Written, produced and directed by Mitchell Grayson and featuring Charles Perry as Johnny Vincent. Others in the cast included Joe Boland as Beaver, Norman Rose as Whitey, Luis Gilbert as Patrolman Brother Andy Walker, and James Fuller as the Negro Seaman. [X]


This program was based on the theme of Roi Ottley's book "New World A-Coming" with music by James Lazito, conducted by Jerry Sears. The theme song was composed by Duke Ellington.


Next week, "New World A-Coming" will bring you a special holiday program featuring outstanding leaders of the Negro community -- Channing Tobias, Lester Granger, Roy Wilkins and Langston Hughes.


If you'd like to attend a broadcast of "New World A-Coming" you may obtain tickets by addressing your request to WMCA, Sixteen Fifty-Seven Broadway, Zone Nineteen, New York City.


This was a public service broadcast of WMCA.


MUSIC: TAG, FOR A FINISH


SOUND: APPLAUSE


MUSIC: THEME ... TILL END


ANNOUNCER: This is America's leading independent station.

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