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The US election on 5 live Drive

Friday 26 October 2012, 14:48

Jim Connolly Jim Connolly

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney participate in second Presidential Debate Over the past few weeks I have been planning a trip across the USA for Drive. The plan is to look at three big election issues in three appropriate states.

 

First stop El Paso. We are there to look at immigration as an election issue. It’s a subject that always features in elections here and arguably parties that ignore it, or are seen to, do so at their peril. The same can be said for the US, where fears that Mexican drug cartels are using the Texan border as a route into the country combine with worries that jobs are going to illegal immigrants ahead of unemployed Americans. It's a highly contentious issue.

 

We are due to meet police, the immigrant labourers and the people who use them and also someone who has in the past taken matters into his own hands to keep the border secure. It should make for a great listen on Monday’s Drive.

 

After the show we will fly to Detroit to discuss the economy in the spiritual home of the US car industry. If anything says America, it’s its love of cars. Detroit in its heyday was a city of nearly two million people - now it’s just over 700,000, and that's predicted to fall to around half a million. Its population sums up much of the city’s history. Once booming, when American cars ruled the world, now it’s struggling. It’s a big election issue because the President bailed out the city’s car industry.

 

We’ll be taking a tour of the crumbling city and asking if the money has worked, not only for Detroit but for the US economy generally. We’ve got some great guests lined up here for Wednesday including economists who have worked in the car industry all their working life and the controversial local Mayor. No trip to Detroit would be complete without a quick tour around the Motown Museum so that's also on the cards.

 

We'll leave the car city in, appropriately, a car. We'll drive to the swing state of Ohio and its capital, Columbus. Looking at morality issues and seeing how topics like abortion and gay marriage play out in a state which has voted for the President since the 1960s. The area has been bombarded with campaign teams and its TV and radio viewers blitzed with constant TV ads. I’ll be keen to know if they are fed up with it and long for the day when commercials return to fast food and cars, rather than policies and scare stories. That’s all next Friday on Drive.

 

It’s going to be a long trip, with some American-size journeys, and some fast turnarounds and no doubt one or two manic moments. The planning has been hard work as I’ve found that American guests fall into two categories. On one hand you have those that fill the stereotype and can’t do enough to help: “thanks for reaching out and have nice day”. On the other you have the polar opposites who are clearly very busy in the run up to the election and want to say no, and would, if only the word was not part of the American vocabulary.

 

However if all this sounds like complaining, it really isn’t. I wouldn’t dare as this is a trip of a lifetime that all my colleagues would love. So I’ll shut up and just say listen next week when hopefully we’ll make the US election about the people and the characters that you wouldn’t get elsewhere. I’d like to say that we’ll be supersizing the election but I’m really not that cheesy.

 

Jim Connolly is a senior producer at BBC Radio 5 live. 5 live Drive is on Monday-Friday between 4pm and 7pm.

Comments

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  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1.

    Never mind the election more relevant is how many of the 5live crew are going on this ' jolly ' at licence payers expense and how much is it costing ? The BBC already has enough correspondents in the US without sending any more out there.No austerity at 5live then ?Really you do need to do more to keep your house in order.Any chance of a blog on the recent very poor 5live Rajar figures ?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 2.

    Lesley Ashmall seems to be going as she presents an advert for her intended input on a trailer currently being repeated.

    Personally, I enjoyed Rhod Sharp's pieces last time the elections were held. I actually thought it was a waste of great radio not to use them during the day (as with many of his interviews on his travels) yet they were not repeated. So I think 5Live has missed a trick not using someone who is already there, living the American life, and in touch with the elections every single day.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 3.

    This guys blog sounds like he's about to go off on some holiday instead of doing a job of actual work.The BBC 's reputation is bad enough what with the reporting of recent revelations and this kind of gloating does nothing to help restore any faith in this organisation.Personally I will rely of Rhod Sharp to get a proper view of whats going on in the election simply because he is out there already and is already knowledgeable of the situation.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 4.

    Firstly, thank you for "putting your head above the parapet" with this blog. It seems obvious and is of interest that the US election warrants additional resources to those routinely deployed in the US.

    It is a shame all blog comments get hijacked, but I suppose in the absence of the controller putting his head above the parapet with an honest assessment of the RAJARS/strategy for a station in decline it is bound to happen. You are failed by your superior I'm afraid.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 5.

    is marvellous that we take soooooooooo much interest in the U.S. politics and forget ours,time that we put our future first i.e. scotland wanting to leave ,wales with language problems -we can not speak english properly -our leaders are determent to make us speak welsh ,lets have a choice on this folly !

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 6.

    The subjects they are going to discuss are important to the US electorate, who are insanely inward looking unless it is to do with their national security. However, a trick has been missed to link this series with what matters most to the rest of the world, and to be honest what I am worrying about is a Romney finger on the old War button.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 7.

    Carrie, I too am concerned about the "Romney finger". As we saw with Bush/Blair this has major implications for the UK. We can debate devolution as well of course!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 8.

    It will be interesting to get different point of view on the election, a British visitor's view, and for that reason I look forward to reading and hearing more from this 'letter from America'.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 9.

    This guys having a laugh surely? He's not even a presenter.
    I agree that the election perspective should be Rhod's domain. Are they planning to send Campbell / Bacon / Derbyshire out to present programmes from the inevitable cafe or bar to add 'colour'?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 10.

    Bacon did the Obama Inauguration. I expect he would like a quick trip across for the actual election.

    I cannot fault Rhod for giving the best perspectives of a journalist who is both resident yet not an American citizen. His reports are always interesting and easy to listen to, whereas I am afraid Lesley talks too loudly for me.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 11.

    With so many jingles and trailers on 5live its beginning to sound like Radio One with loads of sport and sports chat and with what little news you can actually get , thrown in for good measure.No wonder 5live had to incorporate 5live Sports Extras Rajar audience figures to help boost the listeners numbers and make them sound somewhere respectable as this controller fails over act on the decline of this dumbed down tabloid radio station.Its not really working is it ?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 12.

    There seems no point, other than a jolly for the normally Bromley based reporter and her chums, in visting the US when the BBC have hundreds of permanent staff there, and report on the usual cliches - the border illegals, Detroit decline, Iowa on a knife edge... Yep, and Bacon on election night - coz he wants to!

    It might be better for the management to consider why during a home Olympics/Paralympics, Wimbledon, Ryder cup etc. the station lost listeners yet again. No other station could have achieved that. And their answer to this recurring anamoly is trails, jingles, plugs every few seconds. On saturday morning you could hear the crowd cheering as a list of a dozen upcoming events were read out: "Coming up, racing from Doncaster..." There's a paradox here: the more you insist people do something (listen) the less likely they will. But I imagine that is lost on this management as much else.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 13.

    Five Live seems to be drifting into a dream world in that however much folks criticise they either close down that avenue of comment or simply ignore the opinions of the most important people - the listeners. I see AVK has been seconded to another gravy train in the Beeb for a few months and Tim Davey has moved on as well. Must be hoped that people replacing them have some radical ideas to oust some of the cosy presenters (Derbyshire / Campbell / Bacon) and some of the downright poor one's - Murray, Nolan, Savage etc the list is becoming endless.

    It won't happen of course. The problem is in the Beeb no one is accountable as in a commercial operation. If they are, could someone tell us how?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 14.

    26th Oct. A thoughtful insight from Jim Connolly into the US election.

 

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