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Big News at First Tennessee

The Memphis-based parent company of First Tennessee announced two big pieces of news Monday morning.

First, the company is repaying its entire obligation under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, an emergency program the government created in 2008 to rescue the financial system.

First Horizon got $866 million in new capital via TARP. The company is repaying that by issuing new stock and through a debt offering.

Also Monday, the company announced its plan in 2011 to renew paying out dividends in cash, as opposed to more stock.

This is a big moment for the state’s largest locally-based bank.

Read more in Tuesday’s Daily News.

More on Cotton

The cover story in the current issue of The Memphis News is all about cotton.

One of the major recent developments in the industry, which has historically been a big one in Memphis, is that Memphis-based world cotton titan Dunavant Enterprises has gotten of the business by selling its cotton operation to Allenberg Cotton Co.

Here’s an interesting historical tidbit:

Patrick Moynihan, the brother of Bank of America’s CEO, is currently a missionary in Haiti. Before that, in the 1990s, he worked in Memphis as a trader for Allenberg.

He told The Daily News he had a spiritual awakening of sorts driving one day on Sam Cooper Boulevard.

One thing led to another, and he traded a life of ease in Memphis for mission work in Haiti.

Wharton Endorses Obama Compromise on Bush Tax Cuts

Memphis Mayor AC Wharton Jr. thinks President Obama got the best deal he could get by agreeing to an extension of the Bush tax cuts for all income levels, in return for things like an unemployment benefit extension that was due to expire soon.

From the Mayor:

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Memphis Mayor Backs Middle Class Tax Cut Framework

OFFICE OF MAYOR A C WHARTON, JR.
CITY OF MEMPHIS
Memphis City Hall
125 North Main Street, Suite 700
Memphis, Tennessee

December 8, 2010

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR A C WHARTON, JR.

“I want to applaud President Obama and his efforts in championing the cause for millions of Americans through the extension of tax cuts for the middle class and the sorely needed extension of unemployment benefits. The President’s willingness to change strategies by compromising on the matter of extending tax cuts to the wealthy in order to Preserve middle class tax cuts and sustain unemployment benefits was the right thing to do. In fact, I believe his decision represents the pragmatism local officials must consistently employ to make any real progress as we face the individuals our decisions impact daily.

Being on the ground also allows us to see the constant flow of despair that has replaced the bi-weekly paychecks for men and women who have lost their jobs and much of their confidence. Beyond the economic impact, I believe that this extension of benefits and tax cuts together will be a real morale booster for struggling families as the economy continues to rebound.”

On Duncan Williams

In Friday’s Daily News, I’ve got a feature on Duncan Williams, whose firm is growing like gangbusters. Duncan also has emerged into a vocal civic champion, supporting an array of local causes.

Click the picture for a video clip of Duncan outlining who he is and what he’s about.

The Pursuit Of Music: 30 Years Later

If you didn’t see the PBS documentary or the Rolling Stone cover or any of the other reminders, the occasional John Lennon tune on the radio during morning drive today would have been the tipoff that 30 years has passed since he was shot and killed in New York City.

I worked in radio for 22 years before getting into print. On Dec. 8, 1980, I was with WLYX, FM 89, a radio station at what was then Southwestern at Memphis. We were on the fourth floor of the gymnasium and I wasn’t on the air but in the production room doing what I normally did in those days – listening to everything new on vinyl that I could get my hands on. We had all of it that we could handle and more.

Next to me in the other studio, Clay Yager was on air doing his weekly jazz show. I was popping in and out to grab a few albums at a time from the station’s massive record library that occupied one entire room across the hall and the back wall of the on air studio.

For some reason, I took a break and decided to flip on the ABC radio network to see what was happening. We were an ABC radio affiliate and so in the studio, I could bring up the network line and hear all of their newscasts, not just the one we aired at 15 past the hour every hour. We also had a cue channel where a behind the scenes ABC voice would tell you what the lead story was coming up or if there was something unexpected coming up. Today we would call it breaking news. Then it was a bulletin.

There was nothing on the network feed at the time, so I brought up the cue channel just in time to hear the alternating tones indicating a bulletin was about to go on the air and the person on the other end speaking over the tones was saying John Lennon had been shot. I got Clay’s attention by waving my hands but I think he was already hearing the same thing. And then the voice repeating the gist of what was about to go on the air changed and said he was dead and repeated it again with a mix of directness and surprise. It’s hard to describe 30 years later.

It was 1980 and while we thought information moved fast it was pretty slow compared to now. I wrote up a longer take on it that incorporated much of what I had read in the recent interviews Lennon had done to promote his new record and his return to music.

It was basically all from memory and when it came to The Beatles, those in my age group, had total recall about the most inane bits of knowledge about the band. I remember during one of those breaks summarizing what had happened and what we knew from the wire service reports for those just making it in from the evening out.

Three decades later my thoughts tend to be about more than the event. They are about the way we were and how different we are all this time later.

Today, music is more companion than leader – more intimate than anthemic. We tend to identify with it on a more intimate basis, I think.

Even a band as big as U2 is conscious about not appearing to take itself too seriously on a continuous basis.

And as someone who probably lost some of his hearing to its pursuit, we don’t follow music as closely as we did way back then. We like more distance – more perspective.

I have to confess, I wasn’t a big fan of the Double Fantasy album that came out just before Lennon was shot – didn’t dislike it, just didn’t hear anything that grabbed me the first or second time around.

Much of it was personal, but if John Lennon was anything he was someone who reflected his times as well as influenced them. That was the big message he had as he turned 40. The two ways that he had an impact on millions of other lives may have reached a comfortable balance for him at about this time 30 years ago.

Dansette

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