Graham Media Group’s NBC affiliate WDIV-TV Detroit launched citizen engagement project “Your Soapbox” as part of its “Decision 2018” election coverage. Through the “Your Soapbox” roadshow, WDIV will travel across the region to encourage voter participation and hear about issues that are important to viewers. Voter turnout in 2014 in state elections was less than 50 percent in many counties around Detroit. The station also hosted several “4 Minute Debates” at the recent non-partisan Mackinac Policy Conference.
“Everyone should vote their own interests and we, as a non-partisan news organization, need to not only report the stories that are interesting but the policy decisions big and small that affect our viewers,” said General Manager Marla Dutz.
Salem Media’s KRLA-AM Los Angeles hosted a crowd of 650 people at its “Ask the Candidate” forum on May 24 at the Nixon Presidential Library. Each of the 32 political candidates in attendance was given a table, where they distributed campaign information to attendees on the various races in which they were participating. Morning show hosts Jennifer Horn and Brian Whitman directed the on-stage program, giving candidates an additional platform. Salem aims to “directly connect listeners with local politicians, giving them a voice in the process!
Scripps’ ABC affiliate WMAR-TV Baltimore aired and streamed the “Your Voice, Your Vote” Democratic gubernatorial debate in primetime on June 13. All Democratic candidates were invited to participate in the 90-minute program. Candidates discussed local law enforcement, health care and national politics.
“This program is yet another example of WMAR’s daily mission to provide Maryland with essential journalism, meaningful storytelling and authentic connections with our coverage and with new specials like this debate,” said Vice President and General Manager Bill Hooper.
The foundations of the Nebraska Association of Broadcasters and the Nebraska Press Association split the cost of the campaign creative and social media elements for the “Think F1rst” campaign, which will run July 4 – September 30 on radio and television stations throughout the state. The “Think F1rst” campaign is designed to encourage all Nebraskans to think about the First Amendment and will help educate citizens about the five freedoms it guarantees.
Nexstar Media Group is producing and hosting the three-part “Tennessee Governor Debate Series.” ABC affiliate WATN-TV Memphis and the Greater Memphis Chamber produced the first live debate, held April 18, with a focus on business and infrastructure. It aired on Nexstar’s WATN-TV Memphis, ABC affiliate WKRN-TV Nashville, ABC affiliate WATE-TV Knoxville, CBS affiliate WJHL-TV Johnson City, Fox affiliate WJKT-TV Jackson and Fox affiliate WZDX-TV Huntsville. It also aired on Sinclair’s ABC affiliate WTVC-TV Chattanooga, plus radio stations and Spanish language television stations across Tennessee.
Part two of the “Tennessee Governor Debate Series,” held June 20 in Nashville, will focus on legislative and crime issues. The third debate on July 20 in Knoxville will focus on education and health care.
“The Tennessee Governor Debate Series is a unique opportunity for local voters to hear directly from the candidates on the issues that matter most to them before heading to the polls this summer,” said Nexstar President Tim Busch.
Fox-owned WTVT Tampa, Fla., hosted a debate between all four leading Democratic candidates for Florida governor. The debate took place at the station’s studio in Tampa on April 18 and was broadcast at 6:30 p.m. The debate covered topics important to the Tampa community, such as school safety, crime, mental health services and hurricane preparedness. Watch the debate here.
Hosted by Mark Wilson and Kelly Ring, and moderated by Craig Patrick, the participants of the hour-long debate included Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and businessman Chris King.
Hearst’s CBS affiliate KCCI-TV, together with The Des Moines Register, sponsored two live televised debates in the Democratic primary races for Iowa governor and the 3rd Congressional District. Both debates were broadcast on KCCI-TV and live-streamed on the Register’s and KCCI’s websites and mobile apps on May 30 and 31, 6:30-8 p.m.
Nexstar’s NBC affiliate WOOD-TV Grand Rapids, Mich., hosted and broadcast a debate on May 9 between candidates in the GOP gubernatorial primary. Graham Media’s NBC affiliate WDIV-TV Detroit hosted and broadcast a debate on June 28, also featuring GOP gubernatorial primary candidates.
Three debates between GOP candidates in the Indiana Senate race aired on broadcast stations throughout the state:
CBS Television Stations’ WFOR-TV Miami hosted statewide Florida Gubernatorial debates. The Republican and Democratic primary debates will be held August 1 and 2 at 7 p.m. The one-hour debates broadcast statewide through a consortium of TV stations in Florida’s 10 major media markets.
“These high-profile events will attract a significant and diverse viewership,” said Vice President and General Manager Adam Levy. “Our commitment is to produce an excellent exchange among the candidates in both the Republican and Democratic primaries."
Hearst’s ABC affiliate WPBF-TV Tequesta, Fla., produced debates between the Democratic and Republican nominees for Florida governor and U.S. Senate, organized by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association. Debates were held for October 23 and 24 at 7 p.m. and were carried across all of Florida's 10 media markets.
Raycom’s CBS affiliate WTOL-TV Toldeo, Ohio, produced the first Ohio Democratic Gubernatorial Debate of 2018 live on March 7. Candidates Joe Schiavoni, Justice Bill O’Neill, Richard Cordray and Dennis Kucinich discussed the economy, school safety and the opioid crisis.
Hearst’s ABC affiliate WTAE-TV Pittsburgh partnered with The League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh to host a live debate in the race for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District on March 3. The hour-long debate aired commercial-free and also streamed live, featuring special election candidates Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone, “Pittsburghers deserve to see the clearest picture of who will represent us in Congress,” said WTAE President and General Manager Charles W. Wolfertz III. “We are honored to give viewers a chance to see each candidate’s vision for important issues such as tax overhaul, infrastructure, gun safety legislation and national security.”
Hearst Television is significantly expanding and updating its pledge to devote extensive television and digital news coverage of election discourse throughout 26 television markets.
Under the group-wide “Commitment 2018” banner, Hearst Television stations have pledged to provide analysis on all their media platforms of a defined major issue each month leading up to Election Day. Hearst stations are addressing topics such as health care, immigration, infrastructure and gun rights. Hearst also added investigative resources at its Washington, D.C., bureau as part of its efforts to track the positions and truth-checking the messages of politicians and candidates.
“Commitment 2018” includes more than 50 multiplatform events, including debates, issues-focused specials, and town halls. Hearst will also extended digital coverage of the issues to its recently launched Stitch platform.
NBC-owned WMAQ-TV and Telemundo-owned WSNS-TV Chicago partnered with the Union League Club of Chicago and the Chicago Urban League to host the first televised 2018 Illinois Democratic Gubernatorial Forum on January 23. Both stations aired and streamed the hour-long forum live, with WSNS also providing Spanish-language captioning. “Our main priority is to keep our Spanish-speaking viewers informed about news that affects their lives,” said WSNS Vice President of News Diana Maldonado. “The broadcast of this gubernatorial forum is certainly part of our commitment to the community we serve.”
Montana Television Network (MTN) held a live debate on April 27 between candidates running to fill former Rep. Ryan Zinke’s U.S. House seat. Zinke was tapped by the Trump Administration to serve as Interior Secretary. The debate featured Democrat Rob Quist, Republican Greg Gianforte and Libertarian Mark Wicks. The debate was streamed on all MTN station websites.
Univision announced the nationwide expansion of the radio magazine show, “En Boca de León” (In León’s Mouth) hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist León Krauze. The one-hour program airs live weekdays at 7 p.m. and features conversations with callers on politics, current events, pop culture and sports. “En Boca de León” will air on KTNQ-AM Los Angeles, WADO-AM New York, WQBA-AM Miami, WRTO-AM Chicago, KFLC-AM Dallas, KLAT-AM Houston, KCOR-AM San Antonio, KLSQ-AM Las Vegas and KGBT-AM McAllen, Texas Democrat Rob Quist, Republican Greg Gianforte and Libertarian Mark Wicks. The debate was streamed on all MTN station websites.
Cordillera Communications’ ABC affiliate Lafayette, La. aired and streamed a prime-time debate on December 8 between Republican Scott A. Angelle and Republican Clay Higgins, the candidates in the December 10th runoff for Louisiana’s Third Congressional District Seat. Voters could submit questions, in text or video form, by posting them on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #KATCDebate.
The Illinois Broadcasters Association and Radio Broadcasters of Chicagoland spearheaded a 30-minute commercial-free “roadblock” for more than 40 radio stations to air “Chicago Radio Town Hall Meeting” featuring Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. Listeners submitted questions in advance online and via social media with the hashtag #ChicagoRadio. The program was the result of a year’s worth of planning. “I recently asked the leaders of Chicago-area radio stations to utilize their powerful platforms and tremendous reach to motivate Chicagoans to take a more active role in making our city stronger,” Emanuel said. “They answered the call with this unique broadcast opportunity.”
“Radio stations have a unique ability to create a meaningful conversation because of the intimate relationship the medium has with its audience,” said Univsion Chicago General Manager Doug Levy. “I am proud that we are leading the dialogue about how to solve some of our biggest problems and take full advantage of some of our greatest strengths.”
Dennis Lyle, president and CEO of the IBA, said in a statement: “The fact the most popular radio stations in Chicago are willing to set aside regular programming and commercial inventory to air this 30-minute conversation with the mayor is a prime example of local broadcasters doing what they do best — serving the needs of their listeners within their communities of license.”