Roughly 20 years ago, some banana heads thought it would be a good idea to rename or re-brand southeastern Massachusetts as SouthCoast. It was a dumb idea then and it is a dumb idea today. But wait, a whole new generation of banana heads is ready to take it one step further.

The Greater New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce shed New Bedford from its name some time ago and is currently known as the SouthCoast Chamber. The Fall River Chamber of Commerce and Industry is now the Bristol County Chamber. No more Fall River in the title.

The New Bedford and Fall River chambers for years debated a merger but could never come to terms until recently. Tonight, Governor Charlie Baker will unveil the new corporate name and identity for the integrated entity of the SouthCoast Chamber and Bristol County Chamber. In delivering the spine-tingling news, Baker is expected to call for greater regional cooperation between the two gateway cities.

Oh, wait, didn't another banana head named Dukakis already do that with his idiotic "golden triangle" campaign? Yeah, thought I remembered that. The only problem is that his team later declared the region "the end of the universe" when looking for a place to locate a high tech center.

Here is the problem that I have with all of this: New Bedford is New Bedford and Fall River is Fall River. Geographically, we are located in southeastern Massachusetts. There is no such place as SouthCoast. The whole SouthCoast idea was born as a marketing strategy for a miserably failing newspaper and a hospital chain.

When we remove the words "New Bedford" and "Fall River" from titles and geographical descriptions, we remove our identity. New Bedford and Fall River have long, proud and historic histories. Don't replace those names with catchy, gimmicky titles and don't rid the region of its true identity.

Greater New Bedford and Greater Fall River are not SouthCoast. Fight to retain our identity and individuality.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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