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Election network goes live

Students generate election-season radio programming

Six weeks ago, John Tepperman '08, was like any other high school graduate preparing for college, buying notebooks and emptying out Bed Bath and Beyond. Then on Oct. 12, after joining the Dartmouth Election Network, a student radio group, he interviewed the former U.S. ambassador to Poland, Nick Rey, who served under President Bill Clinton.

Nikhil Gore '06
Nikhil Gore '06, News Director at Dartmouth Broadcasting, debates the issues for the Dartmouth Election Network, and often cites information from newspapers to support his arguments while on the air. (photo by Amanda Weatherman)

Tepperman said they talked about U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry's economic plan and other issues. He said he found the experience "refreshing and honest."

It's been 58 years since the network was founded, and it continues to broadcast fresh political ideas to listeners in the region while getting Dartmouth students involved in politics.

The network features a live political newscast twice a day on 99.3 WFRD-FM from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Students interview prominent political figures and debate with professors on a variety of topics. The Dartmouth Political Roundtable, where students interview political figures and then debate with each other, can be heard on 1340 WDCR-AM Tuesdays at 4 p.m. The network gears up every two years, generally running from the primary season to the election, covering general and midterm elections.

Past guests have included filmmaker Michael Moore, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and, more recently, Rep. John F. Tierney (D-Mass.), John White, former Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, Doris "Granny D" Haddock, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from New Hampshire, and Paul Hodes, Democratic nominee for New Hampshire's second congressional district, which includes Hanover.

"I found Hodes to be an honest and charismatic person," Tepperman said. "One of the great things is that he actually came over to our studio when the rest of the interviews have been by phone, and that just adds an extra something to it."

Two recent debates focused on foreign policy. For Tepperman, the most vibrant topic was North Korea. Nikhil Gore '06, News Director at Dartmouth Broadcasting, of which the network is a department, debated Bruce Gago '05, then President of Dartmouth College Republicans, and "they just went at it," he said. Gore supported bilateral as well as multilateral talks, while Gago argued that bilateral talks would undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts.

"The best topics are those where there's no clear answer," Tepperman said. "The student interviewers are not afraid to put people on the spot."

That was the case with White, the former official in the Clinton administration. Tepperman interviewed him on air earlier this term. White helped broker a disarmament accord with North Korea in which, according to the British Broadcasting Corp., the United States and other countries promised to build two nuclear power plants in North Korea.

In Tepperman's view, because the power plants haven't been finished, the United States hasn't kept its side of the bargain. He asked White why we should expect North Korea to trust us again.

"He didn't have an answer," Tepperman said. "At that point I thought to myself, I'm really glad he's not in the studio, because I would hate to see the evil stare he would give me."

According to Gore, the network has changed in recent years.

"It's evolved from an organization aimed at future journalists to one aimed at students interested in the political process," he said. "I believe that the election network provides a more valuable experience than debating around a table or in a closed forum, because you are forced to examine and articulate your views when you know people are listening."


Radio Programming

On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 2, the Dartmouth Election Network will provide updates at 10 minutes past the hour starting at 9 a.m. on 99.3 WFRD-AM. At 6 p.m. live broadcast of election news will begin and continue until all national and state elections have been decided.

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 12/17/08