Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bill Press in Kent

I pried myself out of bed to catch the first hour of the Bill Press show's remote from Mike's Place in Kent. I hadn't heard the show before, being an irrepressible All Things Considered fan, but came away pleased with the event.

On the bill today were Rep. Tim Ryan and Senate candidate Sherrod Brown, both by phone. Live at the site they had Paul Schrader, founder of Families of Fallen for Change, an anti-war group spearheaded by families of Iraq war casualties. Paul's son was killed in the war. Also, the apparently usual Bill Press bits -- Outside the Beltway, a chance for regular folk to sound off on the topic of the day, a couple different kinds of "news you haven't heard" type segments and a good bit of talk.

The turnout was fairly impressive -- at least 30-40 people at the time I left with more filing in. And these were not brie-eating, Chardonnay-sipping liberal elites, either. By and large the folks there were the regular folks you see at a diner -- professionals in suits on their way to work to be sure, but also plenty of working guys in flannel shirts and trucker hats, men and women in street close and a smattering of campaign reps.

As for Mike’s Place itself, well if you have seen one Dutch Pantry converted into a diner with a Medieval/Star Wars/Route 66 theme, you’ve seen them all. And yes, that is a near full-sized model of an X-wing fighter in front, next to the Air America canopy.

Bill Press announced he was in Ohio because it is a bellweather state, blah blah. He mentioned the races for Governor and Senator, but he also said that the Minimum Wage issue and the dueling smoking issues have gotten attention outside the state.

He was also here because the show has orgins here. At one point he had Kevin Kennedy, the General Manager of 1350 on to tell the tale. As they were getting Radio Free Ohio up and running, they were looking around for a drivetime show. Without saying it, they apparently were looking for an alternative to whatever Air America was putting out at the time. It's not clear how guys from Akron got through to Bill Press, but they put a call in and he agreed to start a show with 1350 as the first station syndicating it. Now he's one of the the name liberal talkers and it all started here.

As a result, he has quite a fan base. In fact, his fan club, Friends of Bill, started here and is also taking off. They were distributing fliers at the event:

I know, but they try.

Anyway, the show itself. The most dire consequence of the Kerry Kerfuffle was ruining liberal talk radio for three days and counting, and today’s show was no exception. That was the topic for the Donahuesque, stick-mic-in-the-audience segment which I’m happy to have missed, and generally he spent way too long on it.

The interview with Tim Ryan soars above all other segments. In it Ryan reiterated the usual briefly, but mostly concentrates on the prospect of Nancy Pelosi’s leadership in a Democratic House. Until now I have been saying that securing oversight on this administration is so important that it’s worth giving rise to Speaker Pelosi. He spoke in particular about her 1oo Hours/6 for '06" agenda.

Having listened to Rep. Ryan – who I respect immensely – speak glowingly of her, I feel much better about elevating her. I still worry about the Newt Gingrich effect – discovering that an effective back-bencher and an effective leader require different and incompatible skill sets. Of course, one could question just how effective a back-bencher she has been, so maybe it all works out.

As to the other segments, Paul Schrader was moving an, it should be noted, more moderate and responsible than Cindy Sheehan. Sherrod Brown was Sherrod Brown. Press posts podcasts of the show, though today's is not up yet. The Tim Ryan interview starts about one segment into the second (7:00) hour.


Village Green said...

I listen to this show every morning, not being an NPR sort of listener. For the most part, I enjoy Bill's schtick, but will never understand why he didn't "get" the humor in Colbert's White House Correspondents' Dinner performance.