Friday, August 24, 2007

Near Worthington, Ohio. Campaign 2008. The WCRX-LP Editorial Collective sends its first production team to a Campaign 2008 event.


The WCRX-LP Editorial Collective has had a few discussions on the topic of covering the 2008 elections.

Discussions that were desultory. Conversations that were inconclusive. Just ideas anticipating the inexorable reality of politics.

The former Boy Scout in the Collective says “Be prepared.” The former Girl Scout comments inappositely “An ounce of prevention is worth…” and then lets the sentence expire incomplete.

What might she have been thinking?

WCRX-LP is a community radio station. Should the station even mention Campaign 2008? It is a national election and WCRX-LP is the soul of localism.

On the other hand, primaries will come in March and there might be local issues on that ballot. There also will be local offices and issues in the November general election. Campaign 2008 is not entirely national.

The Editorial Collective makes no decision and tables the issue.

And then the inexorable march of politics makes the question a practical matter.


A telephone rings at the WCRX-LP office. It is a call to the radio station from the Obama campaign organization in Ohio.

A staffer takes the call. The campaign organizer proposes that the radio station gives some coverage to a meeting at the Ohio Hispanic Coalition.

The meeting is a presentation on immigration legal matters and also voter registrations.

The Obama campaign has been given the chance to show a campaign video before and after the meeting.

The WCRX-LP staffer proposes to learn if WCRX-LP will give some coverage to the event or to just add it to a community calendar.

After making this proposal the staffer has some second thoughts because the event is not obviously related to the Bexley community. He calls some of the Bexley Public Radio Foundation board members who refer him to the Editorial Collective.

The staffer calls some of the members of the Editorial Collective. After some discussion, the Editorial Collective members give the staffer loose reigns, very loose reigns.

The opportunity will be used as a training exercise to figure out how to create the boundary on partisan programming that the FCC requires.


The following are the notes that the staffer provided to the Editorial Collective:

The Ohio Hispanic Coalition, was hosting a citizenship and voting event at its conference room at 6161 Busch Boulevard. The location is north of SR 161, just west of the Continent shopping center and apartment complex.

Obama Now Ohio was scheduled to show a campaign DVD before and after the citizenship and voting presentations.

WCRX-LP was invited to cover the event (or events) by DD who is the director of Obana Now Ohio campaign organization.

DD had been referred to WCRX-LP by BL. BL has provided advice to WCRX-LP from time to time on programming, staffing, finance and organizational matters.

When DD first contacted me, she assumed that WCRX-LP was part of Simply Living. I briefly described the time-share agreement and how Simply Living and Bexley Public Radio Foundation are separate operations that cooperate from time to time.

Also in our first discussion, I explained to DD that WCRX-LP is a start-up station with a small audience. I also explained that the WCRX-LP license limits the station's ability to broadcast partisan campaign programming. I also explained that the evening broadcast time slot was allocated to Simply Living and that I would contact Simply Living about co-producing a live broadcast with that group.

DD was agreeable to these limitations and also to the possibility of a co-produced live broadcast by Simply Living and Bexley Public Radio Foundation.

I contacted MW and EB, both of Simply Living, and proposed a co-production. MB was agreeable to a co-production subject to the availability of EB to provide the technical work. Unfortunately, EB had prior commitments.

I told MW and DD that WCRX-LP was still interested in recording the event for later broadcast. MW expressed continued interest in the possibility of a co-production.

I also proposed the production to RA to consider as an MC opportunity for him. He said he was booked solid for that day but if he got work done quicker and opened up some time he would try to make the event. I also offered some post-production editing work to RA.

To free up some WCRX-LP broadcast time, I contacted LE. LE is on disability leave but has been calling in short broadcasts from her home on Tuesdays and Thursday. She said that it is okay to broadcast the materials during her usual time slot on Tuesday August 28 and Thursday August 30, next week.

On the day of the event(s), I prepared a quarter page handout information card offering the details for listening to the broadcasts. I called MW to learn if she wanted some reference to Simply Living as co-producer on the card. She declined.

I forgot to ask Signa Tour Studio if they wanted reference on the card for providing the recording equipment.

I called RA about attending the event as MC. He too had to decline. While he had freed up time, he forgot that he was having car repairs for a family vacation, and needed to pick up the car when the event was scheduled. RA and I agreed that he had his priorities in order. Vacation is always more important than lectures by lawyers.

David and I arrived at the Busch Boulevard location at 5:30. Dave began to set up his equipment.

Already in attendance were DD, JD, SB and PM. I think they are all volunteers for Obana Now Ohio although I didn’t confirm that information.

JV was also in attendance. I think he is executive director of Ohio Hispanic Coalition although I didn’t confirm that either.

Thereafter, immigration attorney MP-H and her husband arrived. HH, community outreach coordinator of the Franklin County Board of Elections arrived. He had an assistant whose name I did not get. HH also brought one of the new voting machines for display.

SB and DD were putting campaign materials on the conference room table. An interesting mix of materials. The usual union label “Obama 2008” sticker, campaign buttons and position papers on health care, labor and education. One position paper was in Spanish language. Also, there were handmade book marks, a new addition to campaign giveaways, and Life Saver candies, individually-wrapped and stickered with a campaign slogan.

Two additional people arrived for the event. One was a woman (probably from Chile) who had been naturalized as a U.S. citizen earlier in the day.

The event was in a windowless basement room. But the room was well-appointed. The seating was appropriately arranged for the presentation.

Some surprising omissions: No coin drop jar for donations for the campaign bumper stickers and campaign buttons. No welcome sign or direction sign in the lobby of the building or at the elevators.

Same kind of omissions in the production work for WCRX-LP. I didn’t brief DD about use of microphone and asking audience members to use the microphone when asking questions. Similarly, when I introduced myself to the attorney I didn’t give her a brief introduction to the use of the equipment.

I also should have asked for DD to provide a little information about WCRX-LP in her introduction and welcoming remarks.

Nothing unusual occurred in the citizenship presentation by attorney MP-H nor in the voting presentation of HH.

We recorded the sound of the Obama presentation so we could consider whether it was partisan and if so, not suitable for broadcast.

What is interesting is that the most of the bare text of the DVD is not partisan. It is simply a collection of policy statements on issues of public interest. Nonetheless, my recommendation is that the sound of the DVD text not be used in the broadcasts for two reasons. First, there are sound bites from unidentified individuals expressing support for the candidate. Second, the material is prepared and offered as campaign material. For these reasons, I’ve asked Dave to edit out this material before we broadcast.

I am leaving in DD and JD’s identification of themselves as involved in the Obama campaign. My judgment on this is that those are simply factual statements that describe the context of the presentations that the evening. I may reconsider this analysis after I review more material about the FCC limits.

The audience (including myself) asked many questions to the immigration attorney. I’m not certain if I should have asked the questions. Too much intrusion??? Some of my questions were just to add contextual detail to the recording, e.g. Where are the USCIS offices that serve Ohio? The answer is Cleveland and Cincinnati.

The presentations lasted about an hour longer than DD’s original estimate.

The session ended at 8:15 p.m.

Dave and I tore down the equipment, loaded it, expressed our appreciation to DD for the assignment and departed.


I called the WCRX-LP staffer for a little more detail about the campaign workers.

In response to my question he described the four individuals whom he thought were involved in the campaign. Young, energetic, aggressive. Mature, intellectual, calm but enthusiastic, well-organized. Quiet, calm, dedicated, well-organized. Smart, strong, active, sharp.

As a group, some had experience in political campaigns but not as professionals. Willing to make mistakes to learn the ropes. No one dominated the organization. All were helpful and cooperative with each other.

For the Editorial Collective, the experience will help to define what kind of attention the radio station has to give to the next election and the limitations of what we can do.

As importantly, the program will help to learn what campaign coverage is important to the WCRX-LP audience.

Contact us.
WCRX-LP Editorial Collective
Bexley Public Radio Foundation operating as
WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM, Local Power Radio
2700 E. Main St., Suite 208
Columbus, OH 43209
Voice (614) 235 2929
Fax (614) 235 3008

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