What It's All About

Jul 24, 2015

Wow, there are some days that the first hour of The Roundtable gets almost too hot to handle. As you know, we try to keep things moving, switch out the people on the panel, and read e-mails so that everyone can have a say.

Of course, there are always problems. Some people just can’t handle what one of the panelists has to say about a particular subject and even though three others on the panel hold the opposite view, the letter writer says things like, “Since you allowed her or him to say what she did, I will never again listen to or support WAMC.” Then there are a few name callers. They use words like Nazi when in fact their own inability to let others express a point of view is closer to the very model they are objecting to. It’s also incredibly frustrating when the writer claims that someone on the panel said something that, in fact, they never said. Once in a while, someone takes us to task for not addressing a particular subject, just like the rest of the news media. I always wonder just how that person heard about the subject.  When someone says that on Vox Pop, I will ask how they heard about it, since ostensibly nobody is covering it. Usually you get them cold on that one.

We have established rules so that everyone gets a chance. We ask people to write very short letters. That way we can get more letters into the queue. We all know that it is possible to get the nut of your thought into a paragraph – former President Dwight D. Eisenhower reportedly used to insist that it all be committed to a single paragraph. It can certainly be done.

So the plea here is to understand what the program is supposed to be. The first hour was designed to be a bridge between what people have just heard on the combined WAMC/NPR Morning Edition and Joe Donahue’s wonderful work on the other two hours of the show. I love hearing what everyone thinks about the Greek debt crisis or the Iran nuclear problem. We have a lot of very bright people listening to WAMC and quite frequently they offer insights that make me think. Often, people will mull over a previous story and then write a letter even though we are on to the next segment of the show.

We know it is succeeding because we get hundreds of letters saying that The Roundtableis their favorite program. People can disagree with what they have heard but they still provide affirmative feedback about the show. Naturally that makes us feel very good because that is what it’s all about.

Much of what I have said also applies to Vox Pop, especially when we are discussing political subjects on a Tuesday. I sometimes get letters asking why I don’t give people more time to express their beliefs and pet theories. Same answer -- I really do want to give everyone a chance to have their say. It’s obviously a very popular program. The whole idea is to have people give their views without monopolizing the full hour. OurMedical Monday show is very popular but some folks want more than they can possibly get. Put yourself in my place. Someone calls and says the same thing two or three times. When I hear it coming around yet another time, I figure it’s time to shut it all down.  My colleague Ray Graf does Wednesdays, Thursday and Fridays and is particularly adept at managing the calls. In each case, Ray has a guest to explain things and he is really good at keeping things moving and in motivating the guest to keep it short. So let me thank you all for your positive feedback and for all you do to move the shows along.