Season of politics energizes

Published 2:17 pm Friday, October 28, 2011

I love this season.
“The opening of the cider mills?” You might ask.
“The tawny, afternoon light that lingers over russet and bronzed leaves?” “The nostalgic scent of woodsmoke and tailgating at Clemson?”
“If you turn 999 upside down, you’ll see the devil is in the details!”
“If you won’t support these students who are here through no fault of their own, than you don’t have a heart!”
Campaign season, that’s what I love.
Regardless of political party, I rarely miss a debate. It’s positively gladiatorial and I can indulge to my heart’s content.
It wasn’t always that way.
Every few days during the election cycle when I was hosting my daily radio show, the phone would ring immediately after I signed off.
“Pam,” my program director would begin, truly doing his best to be measured and diplomatic. “Don’t forget that your show is an ‘entertainment talk show’ not a political one. When you do your news segment, make sure you don’t dwell on the politics.”
“But Neal,” I countered. “I’ve got to break up the comedy with a little substance or I’ll go crazy. This is an historic election- we’ve got our first African American nominee and North Carolina may be a swing state!”
“Yes, I understand all that.” he replied crisply. “But the focus groups say they like it when you’re just being funny, plain and simple. They don’t want to hear about politics.”
“The focus groups also said one of the best shows I ever did was when I held Bonnie up to the mic and let her bite bubble wrap for 10 minutes. You’re basing business decisions on these people?”
“Regardless, no more politics, please.”
Funny how life sometimes comes around full-circle.
Neal was, a little later, obliged to attend a radio convention in Austin, Texas, and while leaning against the bar in a particular watering hole with other industry executives, he overheard a producer from CNN, directly behind him, speaking loudly above the din of the bar into his cell phone:
“I tell you I’ve been trying for hours to get someone in radio to balance that report but there is not a single left-leaning radio host anywhere in the Carolinas!”
Wheeling around, Neal, in what could only be explained as an acute onset of multiple personality disorder, informed this producer that he, actually, had a left-leaning political animal of a radio host and got me booked for five appearances on “American Morning” as N.C. was now in hot contention to ooze from red to blue.
“Are you running a fever?” I asked incredulously as he telephoned to breathlessly give me the contact information.
A few days later, after applying spackle beneath my under-eye circles as I faced the cameras at 6 a.m to give my opinion on what might be changing the political tide in North Carolina, I said, “Well, you do have a wave of residents who have moved here from traditionally left-leaning states and you also have a tremendous amount of discontent concerning the economy, Iraq and the escalating cost of health care.”
“What are your listeners saying?” Kiran Chetry asked from her anchor chair into my earpiece.
“My listeners are saying that nearly half of them are diehard conservatives but a slightly larger number are going to vote against Elizabeth Dole and perhaps for Obama.”
“Is there anything in particular they feel strongly about?”
“Yep.” I replied. “Bubblewrap.”
A slight hesitation.
“We’ll be right back.”
My phone rang just as I was taking out my earpiece. Calling to Paul I said,
“Tell Neal I’m not here.”

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