Candidates unconcerned with Kole’s publicity on TV |

Candidates unconcerned with Kole’s publicity on TV

John Colson

Is it fair when one candidate for a political position has his own regularly scheduled television show, and the others who are running for the same position enjoy no such exposure?

Apparently it is, at least in terms of Aspen politics.

Aspen’s community-access TV station has no plans to remove the Andrew Kole Show from its schedule while he runs for a City Council seat, nor does Kole plan to step down from the show.

And while some local citizens have privately expressed worries about the show, Kole and his opponents do not share those concerns.

“Why would I?” responded Kole when asked if he feels he should give up the show during the campaign. “It’s my job.”

Kole, who recently switched from radio to television when his former employer dropped his show, is on Grassroots Television Channel 12 up to 20 times a week, including rebroadcasts of a show that is taped five days a week.

He solicits sponsorships for his show, similar to advertising sold for commercial television, and turns most of the revenues over to the station.

According to Kole, his show brings in about $1,500 per week in sponsorships from local businesses. He predicted the show will pull in as much as $75,000 or more this year, and that he’ll turn over $40,000 or $50,000 of that to the station.

“So, it’s not free,” Kole said of his television show. “I pay for it.”

Plus, he said, “It’s not a place where I go and campaign every day.”

The Andrew Kole Show is talk television, featuring Kole interviewing whomever he can get to be on the show. And these days that ranges from other political candidates to local teenage athletes to writers of letters to the editor critical of Kole and his show.

Since declaring his candidacy for a seat, Kole has extended invitations to the others running for the council, including the four candidates for the mayor’s job and the four vying for two council seats.

“He has been told that he can’t campaign actively on his show,” said Grassroots Executive Director Damian Panetta. “We take the position that he should not be taken off the air.”

Panetta said Kole also has been instructed to stay away from talking about city election issues except when he has another council or mayoral candidate on the show.

And, Panetta said, “I’m trying to make additional air time available to candidates on issues” in a forum where viewers can call in with questions.

Only incumbent Terry Paulson has flatly turned down Kole’s invitation to go on the air, because, as Paulson said this week, “I thought it would be kind of weird for one council candidate to interview another council candidate.”

Still, Paulson continued, he has no concerns about Kole’s apparent advantage in the race, noting with a chuckle, “I have an advantage, too, because I’m an incumbent councilman.”

In general, Paulson concluded, “Everybody has to make a living.”

The same basic sentiments were expressed by the two other candidates for council – local builder Tim Semrau and ski instructor Pepper Gomes – who both said they do not feel Kole’s role as a talk show host is a problem.

“I don’t care,” said Semrau. “It’s his job, and it’s his show. As long as he opens his show up to all other views and different candidates … perhaps if he agrees to vacate for 10 minutes so that people can express their own viewpoints, it would be really fair.”

And Gomes said he is looking forward to being on the show.

“It’s always fun,” he said. “Who doesn’t like being on TV? Especially with someone like Andrew, [who] you can sit there and banter with.”

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