John McCain isn't the only presidential candidate willing to take time out of his busy schedule to appear on a Colorado radio station. Today, Barack Obama got in the game, too, albeit at a very different spot on the dial. Whereas McCain guested on KOA/850 AM on October 10 and KHOW/630 AM on October 17, Obama chose to gab with Larry Ulibarri, Kendall B and Kathie Johnson J, the morning team on KS-107.5, during the 7 a.m. hour. And to put it mildly, they were thrilled. At one point, Ulibarri notes, "I said, 'I, Larry Ulibarri, don't usually endorse candidates -- but oh, thank God you're running!'"
According to Kendall B, Obama's Colorado office "contacted us a few weeks ago, saying an interview could be a possibility. Then they told us he would be available to talk to us, and we've been working behind the scenes since Friday to get it done." Confirmation came midday yesterday, shortly before word surfaced that Obama would be leaving the campaign trail later this week to visit his grandmother, who's seriously ill. "We thought it might be a little in doubt then," Kendall B concedes, "but he kept to the schedule."
Did he ever. The morning crew was offered seven minutes with the candidate, and Kendall B says, "It was right to the second." The time went by so fast that they didn't get the chance to find out where Obama was during the interview. Hours later, they still had no idea.
The conversation itself was light and fluffy by design. "Our show is based on entertainment value," Kendall B points out. "That's why we're number one in our demographic, 18-34, in this book. So we weren't going to be CNN or MSNBC and ask really hard-hitting questions."
As a result, Obama got a chance to talk about things like his Invesco Field acceptance speech back in August: He said he was so caught up in making sure that he didn't trip as he walked on the stage that he wasn't able to enjoy it as much as he would have liked as it was happening, but watching recordings of it has made him appreciate how fortunate he was to be part of such an event. He also stressed the importance of voting, and Kathie J was impressed by how specifically he understood the local regulations. "He knew all of the Colorado laws -- how long you have to do the early voting, when you have to turn in your mail-in ballot," she says.
Adds Ulibarri, "He was great. Just like you see in his speeches, everything was well thought-out, and he took his time -- very comfortable. We were the ones who were a nervous mess."
At this point, the interview isn't available on the KS-107.5 website. Program director John E. Kage says staffers are concerned about violating equal-time rules if they post it right away -- something that's probably not an issue but reflects how new such matters are to the folks at the station. Everyone wants to be as fair as possible, with Ulibarri pointing out that his UliTube web feature includes material that satirizes both sides. So they've reached out to the McCain campaign in the hope of getting either the Republican candidate himself or running mate Sarah Palin to appear in the coming weeks.
If one of them agrees, will Ulibarri declare, "I, Larry Ulibarri, don't usually endorse candidates -- but oh, thank God you're running!" Without skipping a beat, Ulibarri says, "I've studied acting..." -- Michael Roberts