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A Very Round Table

We came up with the concept for the morning Roundtable panel from 9 to 10 AM because we thought a provocative discussion about the day’s events would be a great bridge between Morning Edition and the Roundtable proper. It turns out that the program, with its rotating panel of four people, is now one of the leading shows on WAMC. We look through the headlines and talk about whatever may be going on. Maybe it’s something that Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton did the day before. It could be a discussion of race relations in the United States. Sometimes the discussions get, shall we say, heated.

We always offer our listeners the opportunity to e-mail the station with their own views. Unfortunately, I have to read them on the fly as they come in and I confess that there are days when I start to read a letter and realize mid-sentence that I should never begun.

I love the fact that the listeners can be involved. But we only have an hour and we can’t get to every letter. That has, on occasion, led to some very unhappy people asking why we have purposely rejected their e-mail. Most people get it but there are some who refuse to think that we are not purposely picking on them.

Many of the letters are very clever but some are way too long. Even though we tell everybody that we have a 140 character limit, we occasionally hear from someone complaining that we censored their letter. Many of the letters express disagreement with individual panelists. I think that it’s fair to say that those people who favor Hillary Clinton will also love Rosemary Armao and Libby Post. Those with conservative views will be big Rich Honen fans and those who are uber-liberal will complain ad nauseam about Rich’s conservative views. When Ray Graf is on he always raises interesting points but as a newsman he likes to keep you guessing as to his views. I love the diversity of the panel and judging by the fact that so many people object to what particular people say, I figure the balance of the show turns out to be just about right. Rosemary Armao is our lightening rod. Just when you think you’ve got her down pat, she fools you. She is fearless.

She says what she thinks and inevitably there are times when she really takes it on the chin. Her credentials are impeccable. Let’s remember that she’s the head of the Journalism program at the University at Albany. She’s edited newspapers and written columns and loves to take on the high and mighty. She is often called on to teach journalists in emerging democracies and in many cases, her stories about her experiences will make your hair stand on end.

Libby Post is a lobbyist and has an inside perspective on the way in which things get done in government. She is clearly an advocate for LBGTQ community and for feminist perspectives.

Rich Honen is a top attorney and identifies himself as a conservative. I look forward to the times he’s on and to all the calls for his removal from the panel. All too often, it’s my liberal allies who put out the call to get rid of him. I always gently chide them on their hypocrisy. I point out that our job is to give all sides.

Mike Spain is the Associate Editor at the Albany Times Union. He is both thoughtful and bright and everyone loves him.

The very intellectual Barbara Smith is a great member of the panel. She has great insight about what it’s like to grow up Black in America.

As for Joe Donahue and me, well, we’re just wallpaper. I love the way Joe sets up the various topics and sends them out the night before.

We’re thankful for all our listeners.

Dr. Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the University at Albany. He hosts the weekly Capitol Connection series, heard on public radio stations around New York. The program, for almost 12 years, highlighted interviews with Governor Mario Cuomo and now continues with conversations with state political leaders. Dr. Chartock also appears each week on The Media Project and The Roundtable and offers commentary on Morning Edition, weekdays at 7:40 a.m.