Community Media Covers the US Election In Vermont

Raising the antenna at the new Vermont station.
Election night 2008, with no television reception nor high speed internet service, I wondered where I might catch the results of this year's exciting election. On election day, I received an e-mail from a fellow DJ from Brattleboro Community Radio asking for help from any and all volunteers at 107.7-WVEW to report live coverage on election night. Instead of passively watching the news, I could be part of it and potentially part of history in the making.

A few members of the WVEW team phoned around and were able to coordinate both citizens and politicians from throughout Windham County and the state to call into our station to report live coverage.

As we waited for the outcome of the evening we joined together in lively discussion, encouraging community members to phone in and participate. We received phone calls from listeners as far as Hawaii and one audibly relieved voter from Florida. A little after 10 p.m., DJs Wayne, Rip Van Winkle and Mr. Apocalypse headed downtown for local festivities of the Brattleboro Democratic Headquarters (and beyond) that took place at the Riverview Cafe and the streets of Brattleboro. They then phoned the station to continue with their live coverage which included local community members and their perspectives on the happenings from throughout the county, state and nation.

We heard from Floyd Meese Assistant Majority Leader of the Vermont House who called in from Burlington to give us a statewide update; Anthony Pollina, Independent candidate for Governor and his campaign party called in from Montpelier; a local volunteer named Cindy who helped to organize the festivities for the local Democratic Party along with Betty Frye, Coordinator of the Brattleboro Democratic Headquarters as they began dancing up Main Street with the band Simba. During the on air conversation with Betty, at around 11:15 p.m., the computer screen began to provide an update of electoral votes, showing Obama had jumped from 220 to 324. My surprise leaped from my mouth over the phone, hit Betty's ear, and soon she was gleefully screaming those results to the crowd on Main Street.

WVEW also had late night communication with Penny Harrington, Town Clerk of Brookline who reported record voter turn out and results. DJ Rip Van Winkle went to great lengths to reach out to people from different political affiliations, including the Republican Party, unfortunately, by air time, we had not heard back from representatives from either the Douglas or McCain offices. This may have given our coverage a huge imbalance, but it was not for lack of trying.

If you listened to our broadcast, you were able to hear how a small group of community members could access local news and events. Maybe not so polished, but definitely worth a listen.

Special thanks to the efforts and enthusiasm of Aaron Ryan, Wayne Griffis, Jay, Tom Grasso, Deb Witkus and support calls and feedback from VEW's own Cam Goodwyn in making Live Election Coverage 2008 so much fun. Just one more example of what community radio can do for you.

Lori Greenberg,