When I listened to the show on Saturday I felt the same. I realize I'm likely in the minority, but I have no problem with him doing a show on radio.
Kenney Does Radio
When news broke last week that Jason Kenney would be doing a weekly radio show on CORUS radio stations in Edmonton and Calgary called Your Province. Your Premier. I wondered what all the fuss was about.
Reaction on social media was quick and very negative. I certainly didn’t feel that way, although I understood why people were saying what they were.
I was in radio in Edmonton for 15 years and remember the days when I did a daily talk show and brought then Mayor Laurence Decore in once a month to take questions from Edmontonians. It worked fine. Nothing was off the table. I did have to control some callers when they rambled or wanted to rant, but I let them ask their questions and Decore handled them like the pro he was.
The political climate is much different and much more charged today, but how was that so different from what Kenney is doing? Let’s not forget that both the former mayors of Edmonton and Calgary, Don Iveson and Naheed Nenshi had radio shows, as did Ralph Klein when he was Premier, along with Bill Vander Zalm when he was Premier in BC.
For generations, US Presidents did a weekly radio address where they did a lengthy speech on public radio, that was widely quoted by the media.
How is this different?
Perhaps because it’s Jason Kenney doing the show?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m no fan of the Alberta Premier, but I do understand radio and the media and I’m trying to find the problem here.
Doing What Politicians Do
I listened to most of his first show on Saturday and it was much as I expected.
Kenney took calls and answered text messages from the public. That’s right in his wheelhouse. He does that pretty well. His answers are often too long, but he answers questions well in my opinion, at least compared to many other politicians.
The host was Wayne Nelson. I thought he was fine. The job of a talk show host is much like a traffic cop – keep things moving. There’s no question Nelson could have challenged Kenney’s statements a few times, but it was his first show with the Premier too, so let’s cut him some slack.
Jason Kenney was Jason Kenney. He did the same as he’s done at news conferences for the last three years as Premier. Some of his information wasn’t exactly correct, he stretched the truth at times when it suited him, took some pot shots at other levels of government, went off on tangents a few times and didn’t always stick to answering the questions.
Isn’t that what most politicians do?
If You Don't Like it, Don't Listen
I fully understand there are critics who think Kenney shouldn’t be given this platform to express his news, especially just a few weeks away from a leadership review.
I don’t see a problem with it. It was pretty similar to his Facebook Live chats. The difference was, we knew in advance he would be doing the radio show.
If CORUS thinks Kenney can bring listeners and drive advertising revenue, then the radio network is just doing what radio tries to do, which is make money.
Some critics look at it as propaganda and say at least at a news conference real reporters can keep him in line? Really? Not the news conferences I have watched for the past few years. The content was much the same on Saturday. Kenney got questions and gave the answers he wanted to give. Tell me the difference?
One thing I did take objection to was the long statements some callers made before getting to their questions. That needs to end and I’m sure they’ll tighten that up. As I’ve written before, reporters shouldn’t go on a long rant before asking their questions and I don’t think members of the public should either. It’s awkward and uncomfortable. Ask your question and wait for the answer.
Good journalists can make a statement by asking the right question. Going on a rant before asking the question isn't good journalism, in my opinion.
Here’s my bottom line and it’s the same as when I was in radio many years ago. If somebody didn’t like the way I read the news, or the content that was in it, they were fully within their rights to turn to another station or turn their radio off.
It’s the same thing today. If you don’t like what you’re hearing on 630CHED or 770CHQR, turn to another station, or turn it off and read a book, listen to a podcast or go for a walk.
If you don’t like it, don’t listen.
Image credit: CORUS radio