Political Season

Apr 1, 2016

If you haven’t noticed, we are in the middle of a Presidential campaign.

To put it mildly, even if you are the best radio station in the Northeast and maybe in America, this season brings with it a series of challenges. You not only have to deliver information, you are also responsible for making sense out of the information that you are disseminating. To that end, every weekday from nine to ten, the Roundtable panel presents a series of often contrasting views and puts the information we get on the news into perspective.

Rosemary Armao and Libby Post are two regulars who are defenders and promoters of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. As for me, I have a theory that we, as journalists, have the responsibility of telling people where we are coming from politically. That way, when I talk about Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or the myriad Republican candidates, you will know where I stand.

WAMC never endorses any candidate for a political office so when I say that I will vote, or in the case of this Massachusetts resident, that I DID vote for Bernie, the listeners can judge for themselves whether I am being fair.

But it isn’t only the people who are on the panel who count -- it is also the hundreds of people who email us every morning to give their views. Some of them are hysterically funny, others not so much. That way, the radio station becomes truly interactive.

It doesn’t stop there. Every Tuesday at 2:00, we do a Vox Pop and offer our listeners the opportunity to call in with their views on all things political. Then there is the listener’s comment line, 1-800-695-9170, which is played by Brian Shields every Friday between 12:30 and 1:00 PM.

My job on the Roundtable panel is to read the emails that are coming in. Since I am doing this on the fly it is not always so easy. Sometimes I’ll start reading a letter and gulp because I see something that violates our “civility at all cost” rule. Or as happened not that long ago, someone wrote a letter and at the very bottom wrote, “Anonymous” when I had already used their first name. Yikes!

The spirit of WAMC is that all sides should be heard and the more we hear from you, the better. On occasion I will hear from someone who will say, “The next time I hear commentary from Herb London will be the last time I listen to WAMC. If he continues with his right wing pap I will never donate to the radio station again.” There is no mention of all the commentary from all those who hold different views than Herb London. There are some people who feel the same way about the Roundtable panel. “I heard Rosemary and Libby extolling Hillary Clinton. Why are all you people for Hillary?” All that tells me is that the person isn’t listening because it isn’t true. A few people have called me and said, “I don’t ever want a conservative commentator on my station; those people have Fox.” That is just not what we want here at a station that really IS fair and balanced.

So please put yourself in our place here at the station. Trust me, we try to do what is right. Recently we preempted a program to broadcast an address by the President of the United States. We heard from people that we shouldn't have played it because they missed their program for something that could have been summed up on the news. But that’s just the point --we want you to hear it for yourself. Once when Prairie Home Companion was on we opted to take NPR’s reporting of an early primary. Some folks were very upset. They didn’t want to be inconvenienced. I got one email that was so offensive in its greeting that I was tempted to call the lawyer who wrote it and let him have it. I didn’t do it because that is just what the man was looking for.

As Linda Ellerbee has often said, “And so it goes.” Bless you all for understanding what this is all about.