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The Anatomy Of A Live Gubernatorial Debate

news-8Thought it might be fun for you to see behind the scenes of what it takes to put on a live, one-hour gubernatorial debate.

So take a look. A communications trailer where the show will be directed and switched, satellite truck, news cars and a ton of manpower and man hours, or woman hours as the case may be.

Tons of cables for five cameras to be set up at the historic 1926 Garde Arts Center in New London, Connecticut.

Lots of prep for the moderator, the League of Women Voters, the two media panelists, WTNH-TV’s, political correspondent Mark Davis, and the Day of New London‘s, Paul Choniere. The most pressure is of course on the three republican gubernatorial candidates which in this case were Lieutenant Governor, Michael Fedele, Greenwich businessman, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Tom Foley, and Oz Griebel, a former bank executive and leader of the Metro-Hartford Alliance.

For two days the theater was being prepped so there were also folks on board at the Garde, making sure the lighting was just right for the candidates and for live television.

Lots of changes too at the last minute and questions like “can the candidates see the timers so they know how long they’ve talked of their allotted 16 minutes.?” “What about the two-minute closing statements, how will that be timed”?

Also, “where should the candidate’s supporters in the crowd sit so they can see their “guy?”

The theater seats 1,450 people, so there has to be security too.

After all the work, the idea is to make this look easy on the air and seamless for the viewer as if all had been rehearsed time and time again, which of course isn’t the case at all.

In the end you just wing it and expect the unexpected.

As moderator, I’m asked to put on my school-marm best and to control the candidates and the audience. The most crucial part of a show like this is the back-timing. You have to get off the air on time and you have to make sure that the candidates get those full  two minutes for closing statements. That can, and is ,nerve wracking, the pressure is on to be fair and on top of your game at all times.

As a post script here, I think it came off pretty well. All were respectful, though one of the candidates had some props, papers he held up which is really against the rules.

Some sparks did fly, so that ends up being a better show and there was one small outburst, just applause from the audience, to which I remember saying “please refrain.”

Other than that, kudos for everyone who made this happen. In the end this is the system working, the people get to see their candidates under the gun.

I just hope all take the privilege of being able to vote seriously and actually take time to go do that.

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