CT Senior Writer Tim Stafford is used to telephoning prominent people. But Tim’s experience interviewing big shots did not prepare him for his encounter with media gadfly Donald Wildmon: “Usually when I call the eminent,” says Tim, “it takes two days to get through the layers of staff to talk to the person. But I was talking to Donald Wildmon less than 20 seconds after someone answered the phone. And within 5 minutes, he was spilling out his feelings about the personal losses he has sustained in his battles with the media.”

CT’s editors did not decide to profile Wildmon just because he has had a nationwide impact, but because we kept hearing how utterly genuine he is. Tim’s three-days’ observation of Wildmon in his Tupelo home and headquarters confirmed that impression. “No guile, no hypocrisy,” Tim tells us. “He says exactly what he thinks.”

Tim was also impressed with Tupelo, one of Mississippi’s most progressive cities. A decades-old sign in Tupelo’s downtown says it all: “First TVA City.” Among the first to benefit from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s rural electrification projects, it has maintained its forward-looking attitude.

But Tupelo also takes pride in its past. A small park boasts the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Did Tim make his pilgrimage to the small, neatly kept two-room house? “Of course,” he says. “I’m a child of the sixties. I had to see Elvis’s birthplace. But I didn’t spot him at the gas station.”

Of course. The King was, we hear, sighted that day at a taco stand in Del Rio, Texas.

DAVID NEFF, Managing Editor

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