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Dartmouth Election Network

Long before the upcoming general election, students involved in the Dartmouth Election Network (D.E.N.) were actively engaged in the political process. "We began coverage of the primary in November 2003," notes Dartmouth Broadcasting news director Nikhil Gore '06. "We hosted political roundtables that included guests like state senator Burt Cohen, as well as [former Vermont governor] Howard Dean, [filmmaker] Michael Moore, and other national figures. The high profiles are possible in New Hampshire because of the focus on the first-in-the-nation primary."

Erika Sogge '08 and Joseph Malchow '08
Erika Sogge '08 and Joseph Malchow '08 (photo by Joe Mehling '69)

D.E.N. is a function of Dartmouth Broadcasting, the umbrella organization that operates the College's two student-run radio stations. WDCR-AM received a license to operate in 1953, and election coverage began several years later. Results were simulcast with sister station WFRD-FM after it debuted in 1976. Today, says Gore, students also stream coverage online for select shows. Historically, other media around the country have carried D.E.N. election-night coverage, which has garnered awards from both United Press International and the New Hampshire Associated Press.

Gore says that in addition to the roundtables, D.E.N. volunteers host and broadcast debates that feature students and faculty interested in discussing such hot-button topics as foreign policy, healthcare, and education funding. Coverage of both the primary and the general election culminates in live broadcasting on election nights, sometimes lasting into the wee hours of the morning when the final election results are tallied. Nearly two dozen students, including first-years, get involved in some capacity in those shows, which include on-the-spot interviews with politicians.

These opportunities to dig deep into current affairs are the most valuable aspect of the D.E.N. experience, according to Gore. "Engaging with a local or national leader makes the idea of democracy much more tangible," he says. "Students, including many who will be working for and advising the same leaders in just a few years, stop thinking about congressmen, senators, and others as pedestaled celebrities."

By Anita Warren

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Last Updated: 5/30/08