Friday, August 10, 2012 at 03:42PM
Apparently Barack Obama is not the only politician who feels the need for a Teleprompter when he wants to convey a cogent thought to the electorate.
For years now, Manchester public access TV has been scheduling three minute speeches for candidates running for office.
In fact, it was my idea more than a decade ago, since I believe candidates should communicate their positions on issues to voters rather than rely on a maze of signs.
I sold the idea to station management; the tradition has been carried on, and whenever I run, I sign up for the three minute message. (Only about half the candidates even both to do the three minutes spiel).
For the first time, when I arrived at the station yesterday I was asked if I had what I wanted to say written out.
No, I usually ad lib, I explained.
You know, I was told, we are offering teleprompter service this year, and most candidates are taking advantage of it.
Really, I thought.
Yes, 80 percent have been reading from Teleprompters, I was told.
Really, I thought again.
There must be some art to using a Teleprompter. It can't be the kind of thing one just excels at at first whack, but the station manager told me candidates were doing well reading.
No thanks, I said; I'll ad lib for three minutes, as always.
I always find the ad libbing a better way to communcicate than reading. In fact, there's a real art to deliver a written speech without making it sound like one is reading.
Back when I first began in elected office, I used to write speeches and read them.
Now, I simply jot down notes of what I want to say and trust that I'll be able to find the right words to get a thought across.
No thanks, Mr. Teleprompter.
I just finished reading the biography Cronkite (not a short or easy read but a most rewarding book). What set Cronkite apart from today's talking heads was the ability to ad lib. Sure, he read a script most nights, but he could also communicate off the top of his head. Not surprisingly, he was once a sportscaster (University of Oklahoma football) as was I. It's a great training ground for ad libbing.
Bob Costas, as I've noted in another blog, was once a great ad lib sportscaster. He's been reducing to reading from a Teleprompter these days, and I assume he's better at it than the candidates appearing on Manchester TV.
The three minutes spots will start airing shortly on Channel 22 (not to be confused with Channel 23, the public access station where The Liberty Express, another mostly ad lib effort, airs Monday at 10 p.m., Thursday at 9 p.m., Sunday at 6 a.m. and noon, always available at vimeo.com/channels/libertyx).
Having moved to the dish years ago, of course, I get neither channel. It's true: I can't watch my own show without going to vimeo.