At the White House Radio Day

At the White House Radio Day today, two topics dominated the interviews between Administration officials and radio talk-show hosts from around the country: The war in Iraq and the November elections. Given the times and terrorism, that’s to be expected.

But the third most talked-about topic, at least in this blogger’s experience and to his surprise, was energy: Ethanol, coal, access to energy resources on public land …a full range of energy-related topics of intense interest to manufacturers.

Thanks to the kindness of our friend Scott Hennen, host of WDAY AM radio’s “Hot Talk” morning program in Fargo, North Dakota, we got to spend 10 long and fascinating hours in the tent set up outside the North Portico of the White House. Duties: Duct taping cables, fetching, taking digital photos, sound checks and other producer-like tasks.

Scott was one of 30 or so radio talk show hosts invited to White House Radio Day, a semi-regular event designed to reach out beyond the usual suspects of the Beltway media to speak directly to listeners in places like Seattle, Detroit, Nashville, and smaller markets like Greensboro, N.C.; Sedalia, Mo.; and Fargo. As is usual in the nexus between White House politics and radio talk, most hosts were conservatives, including national talkers like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck (his Tuesday’s audio is archived here) and Neal Boortz (Boortz’s website features photos from the day. )

By putting all that broadcast personality power in one tent, the White House is able to efficiently schedule multiple interviews with Cabinet members and other officials, reinforcing the Administration’s message during a critical, pre-election period.

Efficient? Scott interviewed: EPA Administrator Steven Johnson; HHS Secretary Leavitt; USDA Secretary Mike Johanns (who was in Minnesota, actually); Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne; Deputy OMB Director Clay Johnson; Deputy Secretary of Energy Clay Sell; Commerce Secretary Carlos Guttierrez; Trade Representative Susan Schwab; Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Jay Hein; and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. (Sure we’re missing somebody.)

And Vice President Richard B. Cheney. In his West Wing office. It was an honor. (Transcript here.)

Rockstars, i.e., the guests with charisma and/or clout everyone wanted to talk to: Tony Snow, Secretary Rumsfeld, Karl Rove — for a sinister Machiavellian figure, he sure seems like a nice guy — and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

There’s an awful lot to report here, and we’ll eschew coverage of the overtly political and war-related discussions. But look for a few more manufacturing-related observations from White House Radio Day on the blog over the next day or two.

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