I. Today, Alaska's preeminent liberal or progressive media commentator, Shannyn Moore, did something nobody in Alaska history had done before.
She guest hosted one of the top talk radio programs in the country for three hours - the Thom Hartmann Show. It was an important milestone. From a lot of checking I did today, I can't find a single instance of somebody currently working in right-wing Alaska talk radio who could make anything remotely approaching a similar claim.
That's a milestone.
More important, though, was how much grace, humor and knowledge Moore put into those three hours. Those of us who have come to appreciate her wit and apt sarcasm were not let down.
During the 100 minutes of the show I was able to catch (half of that time, while I was driving from Wasilla to Anchorage to go to work), she interviewed Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas about his brand new book, American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin, and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right; queried Alaska Sen. Mark Begich about today's passage of the small business tax relief bill; helped debrief Alaska U.S. Senate Democratic Party candidate Scott McAdams on his first debate with teabagger Joe Miller in Juneau, Alaska; and listened to journalist and author Dahr Jamail summarize what he has been learning, as he reports on the continuing (may I say CONTINUING!) Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill tragedy.
The show was as good as American talk radio gets, far better than 95% of it.
II. Over the years, when discussing role models with young women who are interested in broadcast journalism, one name crops up more than any other, that of National Public Radio interview host, Terry Gross. Her program, Fresh Air, has probably inspired thousands of young women (and men) to want to be a better interviewer. Terry has a way of asking questions to her subjects that make them feel at home, comfortable and quite willing to share, to tell a story.
Over the past 14 months, I've now heard from four young women at UAA, that Shannyn's on-air presence inspires them, makes them want to do that well in journalism. Listening to Moore today, especially with Moulitsas, she was approaching Gross' level of being able to draw a subject out positively, in a way that got Kos to open up more than he had expected, and then being glad he had. And like Terry Gross, Shannyn Moore doesn't just rely on her personality to achieve this rarity. She prepares to a level that has amazed me since I became familiar with her programs during the Spring 2007 Anchorage Municipal elections.
Any politician willing to be interviewed by Moore should be more prepared for questions than at any other forum in the state. It is a tribute that people from the Democratic Party side of the street, like Ethan Berkowitz, Mark Begich or many other figures, who have been totally blown out by Moore's knowledge of arcane issues, rave about her, even after the skewerings.
I suppose that comes mostly from the general realization, as GOP power brokers like Bob Lynn have acknowledged to me, that Shannyn cares about ideas far, far more than your average, typical or even prominent media figure. Unlike many media personalities who host fora that engage "both sides," Moore, especially in her weekly KYES TV series, Moore Up North, goes out of her way to seek guests whose views are distinctly different than hers, yet treats them with a kind of respect almost any other interviewer in Alaska wouldn't understand, let alone consider.
Even with Shannyn's sense of fair play, she has a way of bringing out any dishonesty in the viewpoints of one being interviewed.
Joe Miller would probably rather forego getting any more benefits for himself or his family from the Federal Government than submit to spending 30 minutes on air with Shannyn Moore.
Here's a link to the Thom Hartmann Show podacsts.