Other thoughts on the joint WTTW-WBEZ meeting

Posted by Mitchell - June 18, 2007 (entry 549)

This past week, there was something of a historic event: The first joint public meeting involving representatives of both Chicago's primary PBS and NPR affiliates: WTTW television and WBEZ FM radio. This has already been written about below. About 50 people attended this event, damned few of whom were under age 35.

The event felt to me like watching an aquarium: All you could do was watch. Sure you could throw some food into the fish tank and hope that the fish bite or notice, but that's about the extent of outsider participation. They did take questions in the form of written 4-by-6 index cards, and promised to read as many as time allowed.

Many complained about this effort as shutting down the event before it started. Perhaps so. But even given the event's strict nature, the event offered an EXCELLENT opportunity to gin things up and use a common tactic that quizbowl veterans deploy during "home game" versions of quiz games where cash is at stake. To wit: If they rig the game, you rig it right back.

The technique in question: WRITE AS MANY QUESTIONS AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN AND SUBMIT THEM ALL. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. I wound up writing three questions -- all three of them got asked. And telling moderators not to edit? Reminds me of this exchange from The Simpsons between Homer Simpson and his brain --

Homer's Brain: Use reverse psychology.
Homer: That'll never work.
Homer's Brain: Okay, don't use reverse psychology.
Homer: All right, I will.

Thom Clark, he of the Community Media Workshop and chair of the WTTW Community Advisory Board, did an exemplary job of asking pointed questions, given the restrictions of the format and the event. A pity that he, and we, didn't have people as dedicated and as smart answering them.

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