WPRO Providence hosting PM drive debates


With the Rhode Island primaries less than a month away, Citadel Broadcasting’s News outlet WPRO 630 is presenting five debates, one each day of the week, from 8/16/10 through 8/20/10. They will air during the Buddy Cianci Show between 5PM-6PM each day. News Director Bill Haberman, reporter Steve Klamkin, and investigative reporter Jim Hummel are among those scheduled to moderate.

The Monday 8/16 match-up brings together two Democratic candidates for secretary of state; Tuesday 8/17 will provide a forum for two Republicans running for governor; Wednesday 8/18 will feature three or four Democrats seeking to represent Rhode Island’s First Congressional District in Washington DC; four Democrats running for mayor of Providence will spar on Thursday 8/19; and two Democrats angling for lieutenant governor will meet on Friday 8/19.

RBR-TVBR observation: This is localism at its best, and a fabulous way to serve the public interest. We wish this sort of programming was put on the air frequently, in all size markets and for offices all the way down to town council.

There is a right-sized race for every station out there. Get some mics, a moderator with knowledge of the local issues and go to town. It could even pay for itself — there may be local businesses out there that would love to be associated with this sort of programming. And it’s the kind of programming that can lead to free promotion for your own station, as other news outlets in your market are forced to cover the news-making event.

Ultimately, however, producing this type of programming may be preventive medicine. The more such programming broadcasters can point to with pride, the less chance that Congress will finally make a successful play for free air time, and the less incentive the FCC will have to impose onerous new localism regulation.