DAN YORKE – T.F. Green name debate shows just how provincial we are

DAN YORKE – T.F. Green name debate shows just how provincial we are

I remember it like yesterday.

About 35 years ago, I was living and working in western Massachusetts and had just started dating my wife. We were attending her family’s annual summer reunion. I was sitting at a picnic struggling to pay attention to her grandmother, who was regaling the few who were within earshot of her great experiences “in the city” some decades ago. When done, she sighed heavily and said, “Oh, how I would love to go back there. I so enjoy the city.”

Time to score points. This Flushing-born tri-state boyfriend jumps right in.

“Nana, I know New York like the back of my hand. I’d be happy to take you there anytime you want to go.”

Puzzled, she asked, “Why?” I said, obviously, “Well you just said you love the city and I was born there and know it very well. Really, I’ll take you down anytime you want, it’s only a couple hours’ drive.”

“New York? I have no interest in going to New York.”

Defeated, I admitted confusion.

She flatly responded.

“I was talking about Springfield.”

Now, understand, Nana lived in Agawam. Her front door was just 5 miles from downtown.

A once-in-a-lifetime funny moment.

Fast forward to 21 years ago.

We were moving to Rhode Island and at the end of a long day of house shopping across the state, we popped into an East Greenwich pharmacy to cure the headache, and while on the check-out line, two guys were catching up.

“Hey man, what you been up to?”

“Not much. Got to go up to Providence for a contract job. I hate going all the way up there.”

“Providence? Man, I hate that place. Haven’t been up there in 20 years.”

OK, so it’s not 5 miles, maybe it’s 15.

But the difference in the second story was striking. Clearly those guys had a palpable disdain for the capital city.

For two decades on the radio, I’ve heard it over and over again. This time, the subject is the airport.

A new renaming bill from the Rhode Island Airport Corporation proposes “Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport.”

Convinced that the city is the more recognizable destination, state Rep. Charlene Lima last week countered with “Providence/Warwick T.F. Green International Airport.”

(I think I convinced her to cut out Warwick and go with “Providence T.F. Green Airport.”)

The competing correct contention is that “Providence” is the most recognized location. All other top airports in the country are named for the metro city of service.

It’s not even an argument.

But I am certain that this marketing idea to rename the airport for Rhode Island is in part a ruse to hide the truth that in this tiny state, we are damagingly provincial.

Notwithstanding the restaurants, the fun of a Friar game or a summer night’s Waterfire, there is a complicated dynamic of ill will and social economic bias for Providence.

Who are we trying to influence with this name change? If we are saying to the world, “Hey come fly here” for convenience or fun, then Providence is the clear name choice. The pilots and the fliers already know it by code as “PVD,” and the current website is PVDAirport.com

It seems we are saying, “Hey, we have internal problems and we don’t really like our capital city” and in order to feel better, we are selling a state name that too many don’t know and some people think is Long Island.

The two guys at the pharmacy will be satisfied.

But I bet Nana would know the right choice.

Dan Yorke is the PM Drive Host on 99.7/AM 630 WPRO, Dan Yorke State of Mind weekends on MyRITV/Fox Providence and owns communications/crisis consulting firm DYCOMM LLC.


We are gradually losing our identity and it is unfortunate. For example, we used to get simple license plates with two letters and three numbers; many of us still have our initials or our parents initials. Now, they are a mix of letters and numbers like our neighbors to the north and come in a variety of designs. Lincoln Downs became Twin River and now they want to change it Bally's or Harrah's or something that makes it sound like it is in Vegas. Sadly, panhandlers are on every corner, like you see down south. If D.C. ever becomes a state, we will no longer be the smallest. Remember, Pluto is no longer a planet.

This is not a real issue. No one selects their vacation destination by airport, I fail to see how changing the name generates travel. Leave it as is respect RI heroes.

If we have to change it maybe
Patriots Airport - draw on football fans

Quahog Airport - draw on family guy viewers and sea food lovers

Providence plantations airport - this one is tongue in cheek

With all the issues that need to be resolved in this state why are these elected officials wasting time on the name of a airport ? Time better spent getting the economy going .