State Employee Grant Program

“…in the public interest” 2005


I.  Executive Summary
II.The Research
III. Bringing Candidates and Voters Together
IV. Elective Offices/Issues Provided Free Time
V. Candidates Provided Free Time

A Report on Service to our Communities from
the Broadcasters of Washington state - June 2005


Local Media is Talking About Local Races. “If you turn on a television…you’re going to see political ads and the debates are getting covered.” [Stuart Rothenburg, publisher, The Rothenberg Political Report, as quoted by Jim Rutenberg in the October 24, 2002 New York Times]. Television and radio make it possible for all citizens to meet face to face with the key figures in national controversies and local community problems; to hear the arguments first-hand; and, to weigh the candidates and their views on the issues. Questions of foreign policy, economics, law enforcement, the environment, war and peace are examined in formal debates, campaign speeches, news conferences, free time given to candidates in special station programming segments, all brought to the voters by local radio and television stations.

80 Years of Political Coverage. Washington radio and television stations have a long history of service in public affairs and political broadcasting. A Seattle station was one of the twenty-seven founders of the first national political broadcast network, which provided coverage of the Coolidge campaign of 1924! Local political broadcasts began even earlier.

Wire-to-Wire/Border-to-Border Coverage. The 2004 elections produced some of the most hotly contested, closest, most intriguing campaigns in memory. With one of the largest voter turnouts ever, more than 82%, Washington voters were vigorously engaged from campaign kick-off to election night returns. Local radio and television stations serving Washington’s communities covered the election from the day the first candidates announced their campaigns through the Primary to the wee hours of General Election night. Of course, the story did not end on Election Night, and local stations have continued to inform their communities of each twist and turn in the Washington gubernatorial election.

Voters Say: “Job Well Done!” "Americans strongly believe that local broadcasters are doing a good job covering elections, and those findings have remained remarkably consistent since we begin asking that question four years ago," said Bill Dalbec, Senior Research Executive with Wirthlin Worldwide who conducted the study. "By wide margins, Americans are telling us that they value broadcast election coverage.” 9 out of 10 Americans think broadcasters supplied either the right amount or too much coverage of the 2004 elections (42% “just right; 47% “too much”). 48% said that local broadcast coverage was the most helpful spotlight on the campaign in terms of picking a candidate to support, against 24% who picked cable news and 9% who picked newspapers. The poll of 1,001 Americans, commissioned by the National Association of Broadcasters, was conducted between October 22nd and 25th with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%.

Wide Variety of Campaigns Covered. Washington broadcasters provided free time for dozens candidates running for elective offices ranging from President to County Commissioner, United States Senator to Fire Commissioner; from Public Utility District Commissioner to United States Representative; from County Prosecutor to Governor; from State Senator to Superior Court Judge; from Attorney General to State Representative; from Superintendent of Public Instruction to State Supreme Court Justice; and, from statewide Initiatives and a Referendum to local bond levies. Candidates representing major parties, minor parties and heretofore-unknown parties appeared, as did partisans for and against statewide Initiatives and local ballot measures, alike.

In Their Own Words. Candidates took to the air talking directly to voters, in their own words, in debates, live interviews, newscast coverage, taped responses to citizen and reporter questions, and open line voter call-in programs. Many stations added links to their web site to further assist voters in gathering additional information about candidates and the election.

Free Time, Freely Given. All of the airtime for the appearances described in this report was provided to the candidates free of charge. Free time, freely given, a part of each station’s obligation to serve the public interest of its community. In every manner, way, shape and form, local broadcasters in Washington went above and beyond the call of duty during the 2004 election cycle, serving the interests of their communities, bringing voters and candidates together.

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When the 2004 election cycle began, WSAB asked selected stations to keep track of the free, on-air appearances by candidates for public office. In compiling this information, we asked the stations to exclude all paid advertising, either by the candidate’s campaign committee or independent expenditures that addressed a candidate or issues related to a candidate. Using this methodology, WSAB was able to focus on the appearances by the candidates in which they were able to direct information about their views on the issues directly to voters, or in which the voters were able to interact directly with the candidates, without the positioning and filtering of a paid advertising campaign.

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What follows is a description of typical programs on radio and television stations throughout Washington that WSAB discovered in its sampling of stations’ efforts to serve the public interest in the critical area of civic education. Some samples are from big market TV and radio stations, other examples highlight the kinds of efforts that are found in small markets. Our compilation is by no means complete. Time and space limitations prevent an exhaustive accounting.

Debates & Community Forums

In a debate, not only can voters discover the positions of the candidates on issues that are important to them, but they get a glimpse of how each candidate reacts under pressure. Washington TV and radio stations broadcast debates between candidates for offices from President to United States Representative to County Commissioner.

KAPP-TV/KVEW-TV, Yakima/Tri-Cities. On October 15th, KAPP-TV, Yakima and sister station KVEW-TV, Tri-Cities, broadcast a debate between Senator Patty Murray and Representative George Nethercutt as the lead-in the stations’ prime time programming.

KGMI, Bellingham. KGMI broadcast all of the presidential and vice-presidential debates. In addition, the station produced and co-sponsored the community’s Candidate Forum featuring debates between candidates for the 40th Legislative District. KGMI dedicated an entire evening’s programming to broadcast the Forum live from 7 to 10 p.m.

KVI, Seattle. Fisher Broadcasting’s KVI-AM, Seattle broadcast debates covering many candidates and issues. The station broadcast all of the presidential debates and the vice-presidential debate. In addition, KVI broadcast a pre-primary debate between five of the candidates for the open 8th Congressional District seat on August 19th. Before the general election, KVI put together and broadcast debates between proponents and opponents of Initiatives 872, 884, 892 and the Seattle Monorail Initiative. In addition, the station broadcast a debate between the candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Terry Bergeson and Judith Billings.

KMAS, Shelton. Radio station KMAS, Shelton, broadcast both primary and general election debates between candidates for Mason County Commissioner. The primary election debate took place on August 30th and was a live one-hour broadcast. On September 30th, KMAS broadcast a general election debate between Mason County Commissioner candidates for the first hour and between candidates for 35th District State Representative during the second hour. KMAS posted summaries of all of the debates on its web site as an additional tool for its listeners to educate themselves about the election.

KIMA-TV, Yakima – Fisher Broadcasting. KIMA-TV produced a Candidate Forum/Debate on October 19th featuring all of the candidates for 3 positions on the Yakima County Commission. It was a live, one-hour program with questioning from television and newspaper reporters and questions supplied by viewers via e-mail.

KELA, Centralia. The station broadcast the first and third presidential debates and the vice-presidential debate.

The KXLY Broadcast Group (Radio & TV), Spokane: KXLY-TV produced and co-sponsored one-hour debates between U. S. Senator Patty Murray and opponent George Nethercutt on October 15th. On October 23rd, the station produced and co-sponsored a debate between 5th Congressional District opponents Cathy McMorris and Donald Barbieri. These debates were simulcast on KXLY Radio, as well. KXLY-TV and Radio also broadcast all three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate, plus a debate between gubernatorial campaign opponents Christine Gregoire and Dino Rossi.

KNDO-TV/KNDU-TV, Yakima/Tri-Cities. KNDO-TV, Yakima, had lined up a gubernatorial debate scheduled for June 23rd in conjunction with Boys’ State being held in Ellensburg. Unfortunately, one of the candidates could not appear and the debate fell through. The station did produce a debate between the candidates for the 4th Congressional District.

KGY, Olympia. KGY partnered with the local newspaper to produce “Building Communities,” a debate on Initiative 892. The station provided a moderator for the debate, which was held as an open town meeting, and broadcast the entire, ninety-minute debate live on October 5th.

KOZI-AM/FM, Chelan. KOZI broadcast an entire series of debates focusing on local election races, in addition to the presidential and vice-presidential debates. Each debate lasted approximately twenty minutes. Throughout the entire series, the debates featured candidates for Chelan County Public Utility District Commissioner; Okanogan County Commissioner; two positions on the Chelan County Commission; and, both State Representative seats in the 12th Legislative District.

KOMO-TV, Seattle. KOMO-TV, Seattle broadcast all of the presidential debates and the vice-presidential debate.

KIT Radio, Yakima. KIT Radio in Yakima broadcast the live debate between 4th Congressional District incumbent Doc Hastings and Democratic candidate Sandy Matheson on October 20th, just in time for absentee voters in the general election.

KREM-TV, Spokane. KREM-TV, Spokane, broadcast a number of debates during the primary election campaign. On August 22nd, KREM-TV broadcast a Republican primary debate and on the Saturday prior to the primary election, the station broadcast a debate between Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Ron Sims in prime time. During the general election campaign, KREM-TV broadcast all of the presidential debates and the vice presidential debate, as well. The station broadcast general election debates between candidates for the 5th Congressional District, United States Senate and Governor.

KIMA-TV, Yakima/KEPR-TV, Tri-Cities – Fisher Broadcasting. Fisher Broadcasting’s stations in the Yakima/Tri-Cities Market produced and broadcast a live debate between the candidates for Governor on October 12th. The station produced the debate at the historic Capitol Theater in Yakima and solicited viewer questions via e-mail for responses by the candidates. The debate was shared with Yakima’s public TV station, KYVE-TV, and simulcast on that station. A taped copy of the debate was given to TVW for broadcast on its system, as well.

KPQ, Wenatchee. KPQ provided extensive coverage of the 2004 election through debates. The station created a special brand, “Representing America” that featured debates of statewide election races, local races and ballot issues. In August, KPQ broadcast a debate between candidates for the Douglas County Commission. Prior to the primary election, the station broadcast debates for Chelan County Public Utility District candidates; and, the statewide Initiative regarding changes in the primary election process. In anticipation of the general election, KPQ broadcast debates between candidates for United States Senate, Governor, State Attorney General and the 4th District Congressional seat. Local debates between candidates for the Douglas County Commission and the Chelan County Commission were also broadcast. In addition, KPQ broadcast debates prior to the general election on Initiatives 884 and 892. On October 12th, KPQ broadcast a two-hour local Candidates Forum and on Octoer 21st the two-hour congressional Candidate Forum, live.

Special Candidate Access Programs

Many stations put together a package of opportunities for candidates to appear in their own words, unfiltered by advertising techniques, newscast time constraints, debate rules, or other limiting factors. Just the candidate, pure and simple. And free.

“Dinner With the Candidates.” KHQ-TV in Spokane and sister stations KNDO-TV, Yakima and KNDU-TV, Tri-Cities brought the candidates for Governor into the homes of viewers. Literally. The stations produced and broadcast a half-hour special in which the Democratic candidate Christine Gregoire and Republican candidate Dino Rossi went to a viewer’s home and had dinner with the family. Each candidate dined with the family on a different evening; the host family decided what questions to ask the candidates on their own; no reporters were present; and, the station taped the dinner conversation and produced a half-hour program that was broadcast on all three stations. In Spokane, KHQ-TV also did a “Dinner with the Candidates” involving the candidates for Washington’s 5th Congressional District seat, Cathy McMorris and Donald Barbieri.

“Race for Congress, Spokane.” KAYU-TV, Spokane produced half-hour specials for both the primary and general election that featured candidates for the 5th Congressional District. Each candidate recorded a nine-minute segment and the shows were produced from those pre-recorded segments. “Race for Congress” broadcast before the primary election aired at 6:30 p.m. as the lead program into the Fox Television Network prime time lineup. It was rebroadcast on the Sunday prior to the primary election in primetime. For the general election, the program featured all four candidates for the United States Senate. These programs were broadcast twice in prime time, in both cases immediately following baseball play-off games. Had these four prime time, half-hour programs been used for commercial programming, the value to the station would have been in excess of $10,000.

KING-TV & KONG-TV, Seattle/KREM-TV, Spokane – Belo Corporation “It’s Your Time.” Since 1996, Belo Corporation, owner of KING-TV and KONG-TV in Seattle and KREM-TV and KSKN-TV in Spokane, as well as Northwest Cable News, has offered federal candidates free airtime through their program “It’s Your Time.” Each candidate is given four minutes in which he or she has the opportunity to respond to the question: “Why should the voters cast their vote for you?” None of the responses is edited; each is broadcast just the way the candidate recorded it. The 4-minute segments are compiled into a full-length program that is broadcast twice on each station in the two weeks prior to the election. The one-minute segment is broadcast within the 12 Noon and 6:30 p. m. newscasts daily beginning approximately three weeks prior to the election.

“It’s Your Time, Spokane.” In Spokane, Belo Corporation’s KREM-TV broadcast candidates’ statements as part of Belo’s “It’s Your Time” project. KREM 2’s “It’s Your Time” segments provided candidates with four-minute segments to answer the question “Why should the voters cast their vote for you?” Candidates for the 4th and 5th Congressional District, United States Senate and Washington Governor participated. In addition, because KREM 2’s coverage area includes all of Northern Idaho, “It’s Your Time” included the candidates in the Idaho U. S. Senate race and Idaho’s 1st Congressional District. In addition to broadcasting the individual segments, they were combined into a 40-minute program that was broadcast just prior to the general election. KREM-TV also provided the programming to Spokane’s public television station, KSPS-TV, which generated additional exposure for the candidates.

“Election 2004 Spotlight.” In Bellingham, KGMI, the city’s news and information station, created a special feature called “Election 2004 Spotlight.” A different Spotlight was broadcast each day during the weeks of October 18th and 25th. Each Spotlight was two minutes long and was broadcast twice during the morning drive-time newscast and the afternoon drive-time newscast. “Election 2004 Spotlight” featured a mix of candidates ranging from candidates for the State Senate Seat in the 40th Legislative District and candidates for the State House of Representatives from both the 40th and 42nd Legislative Districts, to candidates for the 2nd Congressional District, Washington Governor, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, U. S. Senate and Superior Court Judge. KGMI also included in its “Election 2004 Spotlight” series features on city and county property tax propositions.

“Race for Congress, Yakima & Tri-Cities.” KFFX-TV, Fox 11 in Tri-Cities and KCYU-TV, in Yakima, produced and aired four half-hour specials “The Race for Congress” & “The Race for the U. S. Senate .” For the primary election, KFFX-TV produced the program from nine-minute presentations composed and taped by the candidates for the 4th Congressional District. That program was broadcast as the lead-in to the Fox Network’s Sunday night prime time programming on September 5th and then it was shown again, in prime time on the Sunday immediately prior to the primary election. For the general election, KFFX-TV featured the candidates for United States Senate. All four candidates took advantage of this opportunity and the program was made up of 7-minute segments. This program was broadcast twice in prime time. The first airing was immediately following Game 4 of the American League Championship Series and the rebroadcast occurred immediately following Game 2 of the World Series.

KXLY Broadcast Group, Spokane: “Free Talk.” KXLY-TV, Spokane offered its “Free Talk opportunities to 12 statewide and regional candidates between October 6th and 29th. Each candidate was offered three minutes which were broadcast during the station’s newscasts at 6:40 p.m.

“Straight Talk, Seattle” All of the candidates for Washington’s congressional seats in the KOMO-TV coverage area, as well as candidates for U. S. Senate and Washington Governor, were offered free time on the station’s “Straight Talk,” a program begun in 1996. “Straight Talk” provided each candidate with a 90-second segment, during which the candidate could to address voters during local newscasts in the six weeks leading up to the election, and explain why citizens should vote for him or her. News watchers are voters, so “Straight Talk” segments were broadcast as a part of KOMO-TV’s newscasts, thus giving candidates their target audience – free of charge. Fisher Broadcasting’s KVI-AM, KOMO-AM, and KPLZ-FM (Star 101.5), Seattle, broadcast the same “Straight Talk” segments that aired on KOMO-TV.

“Straight Talk, Yakima.” Fisher Broadcasting’s Yakima TV station, KIMA-TV, provided free time to Central Washington candidates for Congress from the 4th District, as well as both major party candidates for U. S. Senate. KIMA-TV didn’t forget about the State Legislature and broadcast “Straight Talk” segments featuring candidates in the 13th, 14th and 15th Legislative District House and Senate races. Candidates for Governor, Yakima and Kittitas County Commissioner and Superior Court judge were provided “Straight Talk” time, as well. These messages were broadcast during the station’s newscasts; provided free of charge and were produced at the station if the candidate needed that kind of assistance.

“You Decide 2004.” KCPQ-TV, Seattle, branded its special, free time election programming “You Decide 2004.” In the critical weeks leading up to the general election, KCPQ-TV broadcast three in-depth programs “Saving Our Schools,” “Taking the Initiative,” and “The Final Countdown.” Included in these programs were interviews with candidates for Governor, U. S. Senate, Superintendent of Public Instruction, the 8th Congressional District, Statewide Initiatives 872, 884, 892, and Referendum 55, as well as, local ballot measures for Seattle, King County and Tacoma.

“Candidate Access 2004.” Seattle’s KIRO-TV produced and broadcast a 90-minute program that presented the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian candidates each of Western Washington’s seven congressional races. KIRO 7 Special: Candidates for Congress,” hosted by KIRO-TV’s Senior Political Reporter, Essex Porter, aired from 2:30 p. m. to 4:00 p.m. on the Sunday prior to the election. Each candidate’s segment ran five-minutes, was pre-taped and broadcast unedited during the special program.

Holding the Candidates Accountable: “Ad Watch.” Some stations did in-depth analysis of candidates’ claims and promises. Many did this in the context of their news coverage of specific campaign appearances. KPQ Radio in Wenatchee devoted time to helping its listeners understand the claims made in campaign advertising. KING-TV, Seattle, news reporter Robert Mak produced and hosted that station’s “Ad Watch” designed to provide viewers with facts that could help them sort through the claims made in selected political ads aired prior to the General Election. KREM-TV in Spokane broadcast “Ad Watch” features on September 3rd and 28th and on October 21st and 28th.

Small Market Radio Brings Campaigns Home

Radio stations in smaller communities were highly active in bringing candidates and issues into their listeners’ lives. More than any other business, small market radio stations are a basic part of the fabric of the community.

“The Dick Pust Morning Show on KGY, Olympia.” Every morning, every day of the week, KGY-AM morning host, Dick Pust, invites a guest to be the focus of a 15-minute interview in prime morning drive time. During campaign season, Dick interviews candidates for local, state and federal offices. During the 2004 campaign, for twenty days, Dick devoted an entire 15-minute interview to three different Legislative District House and Senate races, two Congressional Districts, and Thurston County Superior Court.

“The Roundhouse.” KOHO Radio in Leavenworth carries a railroad theme throughout the station. The station broadcasts a 15-minute interview program, “The Roundhouse” every morning at 8 o’clock, which features business, political, civic and opinion leaders of interest to KOHO’s listeners. During the time leading up to both the primary and general elections, KOHO devoted “The Roundhouse” to candidate/issue-centered discourse nearly every day. Chelan County PUD Commissioner candidates were interviewed, as well as, candidates for Chelan County Commissioner, State House of Representatives; 4th Congressional District; and, Chelan County Superior Court Judge.

“Let’s Talk About It,” KELA, Centralia-Chehalis. Without local radio’s dedication to bringing candidates and voters together, the only alternative for candidates to get their messages out in many communities is the Letters to the Editor column in the local newspaper. KELA-AM in Centralia’s continuing program “Let’s Talk About It’ provides the perfect way for the station to bring candidates and voters together. The program airs live every day from 8:30 to 9 in the morning, focusing on one candidate for the full program. The show is moderated by an in-studio host and listeners are encouraged to call in questions for the candidate. During the 2004 election campaign, “Let’s Talk About It” featured all of the candidates for Lewis County Commissioner, as well as, a discussion of Initiative 892 relating to slot machines.

KIT Radio, Yakima. KIT in Yakima reached out to bring live interviews and caller questions to the candidates in many races. Candidates that participated included all of the candidates for Yakima County Commissioner, every one of the candidates for the 14th State Legislative District, U. S. Senate Candidates George Nethercutt and Reed Davis, and gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi.

“Live 99.” KXRO-AM, Aberdeen’s “Live 99” program focused on the elections in Grays Harbor County. The show’s host interviewed candidates for two County Commissioner District positions for a full hour each.

“On Line with Butch Bare,” KBSN, Moses Lake. From September until the November general election, KBSN’s twice weekly public affairs program “On Line with Butch Bare” was geared up almost entirely for political candidates and issues. The hour-long program featured host Butch Bare interviewing the candidates and also provided an opportunity for listeners to call-in and ask their own questions. Over the course of the campaign period, the program featured interviews with candidates, such as, Commissioner of PUD #2; Grant County Superior Court Judge; and, Grant County Commissioner, Districts #1 and #2. The program also provided listeners with in-depth information about statewide ballot measures and the proposed Grant County Fire District #3 Building Bond issue. In addition, the Grant County Auditor was featured on the program to explain how the new primary election voting process would work.

Mount Vernon Town Meetings Live on KAPS, Mount Vernon. KAPS and KBRC, Mount Vernon partnered with the League of Women Voters of Skagit County to host a live, two and one-half hour broadcast of their community’s series of candidate town forums. The events were broadcast live throughout the campaign season for on both KAPS and sister station KBRC. The stations’ News Departments provided the moderators for the forums, which featured candidates for Skagit County Commissioner, State Representative and State Senator.

KVSN, AM 1340. For the first time ever, KVSN, Tumwater, provided listeners with interviews of local candidates in races right in the listeners’ back yards. Prior to both the primary and general election, the station broadcast a total of 22 interviews lasting 15 minutes each with candidates for State Representative from the 22nd and 35th Legislative Districts; for State Senate from the 20th Legislative District; for Thurston County Superior Court; Thurston County Commissioner; and, Governor.

KXLE, Ellensburg. KXLE conducted on-air interviews with candidates such as Bruce Coe who was running for County Commissioner; Dale Hubbard and Jane’a Holmquist, candidates in the 13th Legislative District. The station also broadcast and interview with Under Sheriff Clayton Myers on the ballot measure to build a new county jail.

“Mason County This Week.” KMAS, Shelton, regularly broadcasts a feature interview program called “Mason County This Week.” The station used its program to do in-depth interviews election officials on the new primary election process, and with congressional candidate Norm Dicks.

KQQQ, Pullman. 18 interviews were conducted by the KQQQ news team during the high-listener period of morning drive-time newscasts in the months of September and October. Each candidate was featured in the morning newscast with four different stories on their “day.”


It would be hard to find a station that did not cover the candidates, their positions and campaigns in their newscasts. Even music intensive stations delivering country and western, oldies, rock, or the myriad other music forms available today, include campaign coverage in their regular newscasts. Here’s how some Washington broadcasters used their prime news vehicle, the regularly scheduled newscast, to inform voters.

Hours and Hours of News Coverage. In addition to special, free airtime programming, KIMA-TV, Yakima, devoted more than eight hours of newscast time to candidates and their positions on the issues during the campaign. That was only newscast time and in addition to the other airtime that candidates were given.

Clear Channel Communications, Spokane. KQNT Radio, Spokane, news anchor Angela Monson produced and broadcast three special candidate interview programs on the three weekends prior to the general election. She interviewed Republican and Democratic candidates for the 5th Congressional District on two consecutive programs and, immediately prior to the election, her program featured the Spokane City Street Bond.

KOMO 1000 News. KOMO Radio was able to secure and broadcast interviews with all major statewide candidates and all ballot issues during the election campaign period.

Serving Hispanic Voters. In the Yakima Valley, Moon Broadcastsing’s three stations carried interviews of Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, Attorney General Candidate Rob McKenna and U. S. Senate candidate George Nethercutt, prior to both the primary and general elections. Teresa Heinz Kerry was interviewed on the stations’ newscasts, as well, when she visited the Yakima Valley. Moon Broadcasting’s Spanish language stations translated the interviews into Spanish for their listeners.

“6 Questions.” KHQ-TV, Spokane features a regular segment in its newscasts in which it poses “6 Questions” to government, civic or business leaders in the community. During the election campaign, KHQ-TV produced three special “6 Questions” segments featuring the candidates for Washington Governor, U. S. Senate and the 5th Congressional District. Each segment of this special “6 Questions” feature ran about 5-minutes long and was broadcast during KHQ-TV’s 5 o’clock newscast.

KAPP-TV/KVEW-TV Candidates Interviews. During the election campaign, in Yakima and Tri-Cities, KAPP-TV and its sister station KVEW-TV, devoted more than 230 segments in its newscasts to candidate interviews. Candidates interviewed included: Dino Rossi, Christine Gregoire, Patty Murray, George Nethercutt, Doc Hastings, Sandy Matheson, Jim Johnson (Supreme Court); candidates for Washington Attorney General and Secretary of State; candidates for the 8th and 14th Legislative District House and Senate seats; spokespersons for ballot measures ranging from Initiatives 872, 884, 892 and Referendum 55 to the Yakima and Kittitas County sale tax increase measures., and the Richland Fire Bond; Benton County Commissioner candidates; candidates for the 4th Congressional District.

KVI, Seattle. KVI may be thought of as a “conservative” talk radio station, but ever mindful of its obligation to serve the public interest, KVI broadcast interviews with a wide range of candidates, including, Michael Badnarik and Michael Peroutka, the respective Libertarian and Constitution candidates for President, as well as Dave Ross, Democratic candidate for the 8th Congressional District and Deborah Senn, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General.

KXLY-TV, Spokane “Make It Count.” As a part of KXLY-TV’s “Make It Count” campaign, the station broadcast many one-on-one interviews with candidates during the election season. Before the primary election, the station broadcast live, in-studio, two and one-half minute interviews by the station’s new anchors with all of the candidates for Washington’s 5th Congressional District. Leading up to the general election, the station’s news anchors did three-minute live, in-studio interviews with candidates for two Spokane County Commissioner positions, Governor, the 5th Congressional District and U. S. Senate.

Clear Channel Communications’ Tri-Cities. Their four stations created a special interview to assist listeners in navigating the maze of the new primary election system. The stations all carried a half-hour interview with Benton County Auditor Bobbie Gagner in the heavily listened to morning drive time period.

KREM-TV, Spokane, also made great efforts to educate the public about the new primary election process, interviewing Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton on the station’s Noon newscast for a one-on-one explanation of what the voters could expect. Prior to the general election, the station also provided news interviews with both candidates for the 5th Congressional District seat.

KAYU-TV, Spokane, provided its viewers with a news interview with Deborah Senn, candidate for Attorney General in its 10 o’clock newscast that ran more than three minutes.

Who’s Coming to Town? Often, stories in newscasts about upcoming local campaign visits by candidates might seem to be little more than promotional announcements for a candidate’s appearance. But those news stories, heralding the local appearance of a candidate, serve to notify listeners and viewers of yet another way in which they can inform themselves and make better election decisions.

Get Out the Vote

Washington radio and TV stations in virtually every community shoulder the responsibility of getting out the vote. Broadcasters have combined forces with local organizations, such as the League of Women Voters, to mount organized campaigns to increase voter registration and turnout. Most stations frequently remind voters to be sure to vote in the days leading up to the election. These reminders are nearly constant during Election Day. KAPS and KBRC in Mount Vernon ran their reminder announcements more than 50 times on each station leading up to the election.

KAYU-TV, Spokane developed its own “Let Your Voice Be Heard” campaign which presented Spokane area viewers with Public Service Announcements urging voters to turn out. Overall, KAYU-TV’s campaign was broadcast a remarkable 513 times, for a total value, if they had been paid commercial announcements, of more than $43,000. KREM-TV, Spokane, customized its station identification announcements, using its most familiar and credible faces, its news anchors, to remind people to vote. KHQ-TV, Spokane, conducted three voter registration drives throughout the election period. KXLY-TV’s morning show “Good Morning Northwest,” conducted an on-line voter registration campaign which netted 100 newly registered voters in just a four-hour period.

Spanish language listeners were not left out of “Get Out the Vote” campaigns. KMNA and sister stations KLES and KZXR in the Yakima Valley worked with the Yakima County Auditor to relay information on registering to vote in both Spanish and English. The stations aired PSAs aimed at registering new voters; and, the stations served as a location for listeners to pick up voter registration forms. All three stations included county elections personnel at station events where more than 20,000 people attended. In all, the three stations contributing more than $25,000 in air time to this community service campaign.

Every time a station reports on projected voter turnout, listeners and viewers are reminded of the time remaining for the polls to be open and are urged to cast their ballot. KGY, Olympia’s reminders were nearly constant on election day. KVSN, Tumwater broadcast two to three “Get Out The Vote” messages every day in both morning and afternoon drive time. In addition, the network with which KVSN is affiliated ran large numbers of similar messages. KORD and sister stations KOLW, KEYW and KXRX all broadcast a 60-day “Get Out and Vote” campaign. Each station has a different audience composition and the campaign was designed to motivate each of those different audiences, with announcements running four times every day.

KELA, Centralia/Chehalis involved the Lewis County Auditor for messages that encouraged residents to register to vote and, later, to be sure to vote. Many stations also work with community groups to publicize ways for people to get to the polls if they need help. KOMO Radio in Seattle ran Get Out the Vote announcements, every hour, 24 hours a day for the entire week leading up to election day. KTWB-TV, Seattle, produced Public Service Announcements for “VoteRunLead.Org” using the cooperative efforts of the WB Network and their talent. The station broadcast these PSA’s more than 300 times in the run-up to the election.

KBSN and sister station KDRM in Moses Lake ran “Get Out the Vote” Public Service Announcements more than 15 times per week, every week, from August through General Election Day in November. KCYU-TV, Yakima, produced and broadcast its own PSA campaign to encourage voters to turn out, running more than 160 announcements leading up to the election.

Secretary of State Primary Voter Education Campaign

2004 marked the end of the blanket primary election system in Washington. Washington radio and television stations went above and beyond the call of duty to educate voters about the new primary election system. Secretary of State Sam Reed’s office produced announcements that provided information about how the primary election was going to take place. Even though it was a paid commercial campaign, KAYU-TV, Spokane, ran an extra 87 announcements and a banner on its web site, at no charge. If those extra announcements had been paid advertising, the value would have been nearly $5,000. KFFX-TV in the Tri-Cities and KCYU-TV, Yakima, ran an extra 27 announcements at no charge.

Legal Notice of State Ballot Measures

Nearly every commercial radio station in Washington participated in the 2004 Secretary of State Legal Notice Advertising of State Measures Program. In the clatter and din of candidate campaigns, some lesser-known, but vitally important issues might be overlooked, except for Washington broadcasters’ commitment to serve the public interest through their participation in the Legal Notice of State Ballot Measures Program. Although the Secretary of State can afford to buy only a small amount of commercial ad time to publicize proposed statewide ballot measures (as required by the State Constitution and state statute), Washington radio stations are committed to running additional spots, at no charge, to increase awareness of these critical measures. These announcements, which are broadcast during the two weeks immediately preceding the November election, also remind citizens to review their Voters Pamphlet, to study it carefully and thoroughly before voting. Spanish-speaking voters are not forgotten; the spots are broadcast in both Spanish and English.

Expanding the Reach of Broadcasters’ Efforts

Web Sites. The Internet has become the research engine for political issues in America. Broadcasters have embraced this new tool as another way to serve the public interest of their communities. Use of a station’s web site expands the station’s coverage of campaigns with a level of detail that reporters cannot include, and viewers do not want, in a regular newscast report. However, viewers can regularly log onto stations’ web sites and follow links when they have more time to investigate these issues on their own, or when they want a specific piece of information about a candidate or a candidate’s position on an issue.
    Streaming. Stations all across Washington are streaming their signals on the Internet. Just click and listen. During the campaign season, coverage is now available in both audio and video files streaming live, and in some cases, archived for later review from many radio and TV stations in Washington. Belo Corporation’s Washington stations, KING-TV and KONG-TV, Seattle and KREM-TV, Spokane posted all of the material from their “It’s Your Time” series on their web sites.
    Links. The Internet has also allowed stations to provide listeners and viewers with direct links to candidates’ web sites, voter information, government sites regarding elections, voter registration and election returns. During their newscasts or other campaign related programming, radio and television stations in small communities and large markets throughout Washington encourage citizens avail themselves of this outstanding opportunity.
    Interactivity. Many stations that produced or carried debates encouraged viewers and listeners to submit questions, in real time, through the station’s web site, as did KREM-TV, Spokane.
    Voter Information. The Clear Channel stations in the Tri-Cities posted an election voter guide on the web site of their stations that included voting locations and updates on voting, as well as polling and election results.
     KAPP-TV, Yakima and KVEW-TV, Tri-Cities designed a special, separate section of their web sites called “Make It Count,” which was a one-stop location for all pre-election information, and where election results were posted. This portion of their web sites contained links to political party web sites, as well as the official election web sites of the Secretary of State in both Washington and Oregon, the official sites of all the counties in the stations’ viewing area and the web sites for the League of Women Voters.
     KIMA-TV’s “Campaign 2004” section of its web site included special sections linking viewers to stories on the campaign that the station had broadcast and archived for better, continued access. One page contained a complete election calendar and another carried links to the Secretary of State’s official voter web site, the League of Women Voters’ site, Project Vote Smart and the county elections web sites of Yakima, Kittitas, Benton and Grant Counties, as well as links to the major political parties.
     KXLY Radio/TV in Spokane extended its “Make It Count” theme to its web site content for the election, as well. It was important to provide educational material to inform voters of their responsibilities and KXLY-TV created an “Elections 101” section of their web site, which provided general information for first time voters and links to the official Secretary of State election web sites for both Washington and Idaho.

Coverage for Two States: Spokane Stations Do Double Duty. Spokane broadcasters provide the primary radio and television service, not only to their Spokane listeners and viewers, but to all of Northern Idaho, as well. Stations there routinely offer free airtime to candidates for local, state and federal offices, and ballot measure campaigns in both Washington and Idaho. This year, in addition to their coverage of Washington campaigns, Spokane broadcasters provided free airtime for candidates in the Idaho gubernatorial race, the race for one of Idaho’s United States Senate seats and for Idaho’s 1st Congressional District seat.

The Networks. Local broadcasters bring the experience, insight and resources of the national broadcast network news organizations into our living rooms. No local station can match the on-going resources for coverage that the networks have. But by bringing network reporting to local audiences, hometown broadcasters are also delivering in yet another way on their commitment to serve the pubic interest.

Regional Cable News Channels. Belo Broadcasting’s Northwest Cable News Channel, carried throughout Washington, Idaho and Oregon, extends the reach of Belo’s Seattle and Spokane stations, and allows its news organization to present more in-depth coverage of campaign issues and events. Viewers throughout the region benefit from the resource sharing between Northwest Cable News and Belo’s free, over-the-air stations, KING-TV and KONG-TV, Seattle and KREM-TV and KSKN-TV, Spokane. In addition, the combination of these stations and Northwest Cable News can carry debates broadcast by the Belo TV stations, either live or on a tape delay basis, offering Northwest viewers additional opportunities to hear candidates’ views on issues. Cross-promotion of these repeat showings ensures that viewers do not miss out on an important campaign replay.

Lose A Little On Each Sale; Make It Up In Volume. Candidates, their committees and their supporters spent record amounts on paid advertising during the 2004 election cycle. There were more contested races, even for the Washington State Supreme Court. There were more candidates, as the Libertarians and the Green Party fielded candidates in nearly every Washington congressional race, and the U. S. Senate race. Several minor party candidates qualified for the November ballot in many races. For broadcasters, the campaign season began on Christmas Eve, 2004, because of the Presidential caucuses, and was the longest in memory, if not in history.

Despite the eye-popping number of dollars spent on political campaigns, if anybody got rich from political advertising, it certainly was not radio and television stations. Every candidate spot runs at a huge discount from the price that a normal commercial advertiser would pay for that same spot, called Lowest Unit Charge (LUC). Many stations are normally "sold out," i.e., they are able to sell all of the spot airtime they have available to regular commercial advertisers at rates higher than the candidate rate. Every LUC candidate spot replaces a full rate spot, and costs the broadcaster the difference.

Sometimes It’s Tough To Get Candidates on the Air

Any requirement that radio and television stations broadcast a minimum amount of “candidate-centered discourse’ will carry with it an obligation for candidates, as well as broadcasters. Broadcasters can only provide as much exposure on their stations as candidates are willing to accept. If stations had to meet such a requirement, the refusal of a candidate to appear on a station’s newscast for an interview or participate in special free time programming such as “It’s Your Time,” or “Straight Talk” could place the station in jeopardy of violating the minimum requirement of “candidate-centered discourse.” Unfortunately, during the 2004 campaign, many candidates were unable to accept station invitations to participate in their “candidate-centered discourse” programming.

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Leroy Allison, Grant County PUD Commissioner
Gary Andrews, Thurston County Superior Court Judge
Mike Armstrong, 12th Legislative District State Representative
Ron Averill, Lewis County Commissioner

Michael Badnarik, President
Robin Bailey, 42nd Legislative District State Representative
Brian Baird, Washington 3rd Congressional District
Ron Baker, Grant County PUD Commissioner
Don Barbieri, Washington 5th Congressional District
Gerald Baron, 40th Legislative District State Senator
Scott Barricklow, Thurston County Commissioner
Herb Baze, Mason County Commissioner
Heidi Behrens-Benedict, Washington 8th Congressional District
Monte Benham, 8th Legislative District State Representative
Brad Benson, 6th Legislative District State Senator
Bob Benze, 35th Legislative District State Representative
Terry Bergeson, Superintendent of Public Instruction
Judith Billings, Superintendent of Public Instruction
Lee Blackwell, Grant County PUD Commissioner
Gene Blomberg, Yakima County Commissioner
Judith Boekholder, Yakima County Commissioner
Chuck Bojarski, 20th Legislative District State Senator
David Bowen, Kittitas County Commissioner
Ann Burgman, 22nd Legislative District State Representative
Bill Burke, Spokane County Commissioner
George W. Bush, President

Carol Cassady, Washington 7th Congressional District
Mike Cassidy, Chelan County Commissioner
Dick Cheney, Vice President
Doug Cloud, Washington 6th Congressional District
Dawn Courtney, Washington 3rd Congressional District
Teddy Chow, Grant County Superior Court Judge
Jim Clements, 14th Legislative District State Representative
Bruce Coe, Kittitas County Commissioner
Howard Collins, Kittitas County Commissioner

Cary Condotta, 12th Legislative District State Representative
Ann Congdon, Chelan County PUD Commissioner
Mike Conley, Grant County PUD Commissioner
Bill Cowles, Chelan County PUD Commissioner
Alan Crankovitch, Kittitas County Commissioner
Mike Crapo, Idaho U. S. Senate
Cheryl Crist, Washington 3rd Congressional District
Shawn Cross, Washington 5th Congressional District
Tom Crowson, Washington 3rd Congressional District

Reed Davis, Washington U. S. Senate
Alex Deccio, 14th Legislative District State Senator
Norm Dicks, Washington 6th Congressional District
Jim Doran, Okanogan County Commissioner
Juanita Doyon, Superintendent of Public Instruction

Randy Eastwood, Washington 1st Congressional District
John Edwards, Vice President
Bill Eikmeyer, 35th Legislative District State Representative
Doug Erickson, 42nd Legislative District State Representative
Luke Esser, Washington 8th Congressional District
Matt Ewers, Spokane County Commissioner

Tom Flint, Grant County PUD Commissioner
Rebecca Francik, 16th Legislative District State Senator

Ron Gamache, Yakima County Commissioner
Paul George, Yakima County Commissioner
Clarence Gipson, 14th Legislative District State Representative
Blaine Gibson, Yakima County Superior Court Judge
John Givens, Benton County Commissioner
Dave Gordon, 22nd Legislative District State Representative
Ron Grafton, Lewis County Commissioner
C. Mark Green, Washington 9th Congressional District
Bruce Guthrie, Washington 2nd Congressional District

Kathy Haigh, 35th Legislative District State Representative
Larry Haler, 8th Legislative District State Representative
Kathryn Hanford-Wiley, Grant County PUD Commissioner
Greg Hansen, Grant County PUD Commissioner
Tom Hargreaves, Spokane County Commissioner
Doc Hastings, Washington 4th Congressional District
Buell Hawkins, Chelan County Commissioner
Bill Hinkle, 13th Legislative District State Representative
Don Hinman, 14th Legislative District State Representative
John Hobberlin, 42nd Legislative District State Representative
Margaret Holm, 22nd Legislative District State Representative
Jane’a Holmquist, 13th Legislative District State Representative
James Holschen, Jr., 3rd Legislative District State Representative
Don “Bud” Hover, Okanogan County Commissioner
Dale Hubbard, 13th Legislative District State Representative

Constance Ibsen, Mason County Commissioner
Jay Inslee, Washington 1st Congressional District

Werner Janssen, Chelan County PUD Commissioner
Eric Johnson, Lewis County Commissioner
Jim Johnson, Washington Supreme Court
Wes Johnson, Mason County Commissioner

Dane Keane, Douglas County Commissioner
Michael Kepcha, 15th Legislative District State Representative
John Kerry, President

Barbara Lampert, Spokane County Commissioner
Rick Larsen, Washington 2nd Congressional District
Rhonda Larson, 22nd Legislative District State Representative
Earl Lee, Yakima County Commissioner
Mike Leita, Yakima County Commissioner
Frank Leuck, Thurston County Commissioner
Kelli Linville, 42nd Legislative District State Representative
Paul Lord, Washington 9th Congressional District

Ken Manke, Douglas County Commissioner
Craig Mason, Washington 4th Congressional District
Sandy Matheson, Washington 4th Congressional District
Jim McDermott, Washington 7th Congressional District
Rob McKenna, Attorney General
Cathy McMorris, Washington 5th Congressional District
Todd Mielke, Spokane County Commissioner
J. Mills, Washington U. S. Senate
Charles Moore, Washington 1st Congressional District
Jim Morrison, 14th Legislative District State Representative
Stan Morse, Chelan County Superior Court Judge
Brian Murray, 6th Legislative District State Senator
Patty Murray, Washington U. S. Senate

Randy Neatherlin, Mason County Commissioner
George Nethercutt, Washington U. S. Senate
Dan Newhouse, 15th Legislative District State Representative
Dennis Nicholson, Chelan County PUD Commissioner

Diane Oberquell, Thurston County Commissioner
Claude Oliver, Benton County Commissioner
Butch Otter, Idaho 1st Congressional District

Vicki Lee Ann Parker, Thurston County Superior Court Judge
Steve Peterson, Spokane County Commissioner
Michael Peroutka, President
John Peuberth, Lewis County Commissioner
Bill Pilkey, Thurston County Commissioner
Jim Powers, Thurston County Superior Court Judge
Naomi Preston, Idaho 1st Congressional District

Sam Reed, Secretary of State
Dave Reichert (R), Washington 8th Congressional District
Mark Richard, Spokane County Commissioner
Lynda Ring-Erickson, Mason County Commissioner
Nadine Romero, 22nd Legislative District State Representative
Dave Ross (D), Washington 8th Congressional District
Dino Rossi (R), Governor

Bryan Sayrs, Spokane County Commissioner
Randy Scott, 22nd Legislative District State Representative
Deborah Senn (D), Attorney General
Mac Setter, Whatcom County Superior Court Judge
Larry Sheahan, Washington 5th Congressional District
Tim Sheldon, Mason County Commissioner
Mark Sidran, Attorney General
Thelma Simon, Kittitas County Commissioner
Ron Sims, Governor
Suzanne Sinclair, Washington 2nd Congressional District
Leni Skarin, 14th Legislative District State Senator
Mary Skinner, 14th Legislative District State Representative
Joseph Sloan, Thurston County Superior Court Judge
Chip Small, Chelan County Superior Court Judge
Tim Smead, Grant County PUD Commissioner
Adam Smith, Washington 9th Congressional District
Todd Smith, 12th Legislative District State Representative

Chuck Snyder, Whatcom County Superior Court Judge
Harriet Spanel, 40th Legislative District State Senator
Evan Sperline, Grant County Superior Court Judge
Joel Staloch, 22nd Legislative District State Representative
Dave Stephens, 3rd Legislative District State Representative
David Stephens, Grant County PUD Commissioner
Richard Stevens, Grant County PUD Commissioner
Bob Stritzel, Chelan County Commissioner
Sandra Swanson, Yakima County Commissioner
Dan Swecker, 20th Legislative District State Senator

Chris Tait, Yakima County Superior Court Judge
Diane Tebelius, Washington 8th Congressional District
Joel Tfefeg, Chelan County PUD Commissioner

Greg Walden, Oregon 2nd Congressional District
Jim Wall, Chelan County PDU Commissioner
Erv Wandler, Yakima County Commissioner
Ron Walter, Chelan County Commissioner
Chris Wickham, Thurston County Superior Court Judge
Patrick Wicklund, 13th Legislative District State Representative
Brendan Williams, 22nd Legislative District State Representative
Larry Williamson, Grant County PUD Commissioner
Mark Wilson, Washington U. S. Senate
Linda Wolverton, Spokane County Commissioner
Richard Wright, Washington 4th Congressional District

Tony Zinman, 12th Legislative District State Representative

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