Pageant officials' decision to revise the talent competition stirred controversy. Miss Georgia, Danica Tisdale, was a 2004 preliminary talent winner.
Less talent, platform addition hurt program
By Patrice Stewart
DAILY Staff Writer
email@example.com · 340-2446
Stan Bradford has been in the audience at most Miss America pageants for the past 30 years and helped many contestants prepare, but he's concerned about its future.
He's glad to see the pageant trying to get back to its glory days, "but I'm afraid it's on its last leg, just like the Junior Miss program," said the Huntsville man who is cafeteria manager for Solutia in Decatur.
"I'll be interested to see how the ratings will be for Saturday night's show," said Bradford, who is concerned that many people don't have cable access to Country Music Television, which will air it.
Bradford yearns for the days when "the girls used to walk out in different colored evening gowns and introduce themselves and their states. Then they got on with the show," with the top 10 competing in talent and evening gown.
"When you thought of the Miss America program, you thought of a pretty, all-American girl-next-door type who could speak and sing a song," said Bradford. "But I feel like they got away from showing the talent and went to a game-type show. People told me they weren't watching anymore because it didn't have talent."
Bradford, 63, has advised dozens of young women headed to local, state and Miss America pageants on what to wear and what to say during the judges' interview. For about 20 years, he sold pageant-type swimsuits to contestants who wanted to stand out in that well-known part of the competition.
He believes the Miss America show began losing ratings in the early 1990s, when changes were made, such as emphasizing social service platforms.
"Adding the community service aspect was the biggest change ever, and a lot of girls didn't compete after that," said Bradford. "I worked with girls from Vermont and other New England states, and they didn't do platforms up there."
Viewership continued to decline in the early 2000s, he said, as a casualwear division was added while fewer contestants were televised performing their talent (only the top two in 2004).
"I believe in this program and hate to see it lose its credibility," he said. "So many girls have become doctors and lawyers and couldn't have gone without that scholarship money."
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