‘Democracy Now!’ " live in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

‘Democracy Now!’ " live in Aspen

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” Democracy Now host Amy Goodman broadcasts live to the nation every morning. But minutes before she was scheduled to go on via satellite from the GrassRoots TV studio in Aspen at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, it didn’t look good.

One guest was late, Goodman dropped her cell phone connecting her to the New York studio where the show is produced, and a local crew was busy sorting out last-minute details of lighting and camera angles.

“Can someone talk to me in New York?” Goodman said, a hint of panic in her voice, and a producer rushed to have show guests shuttled to the studio by taxi.

But once there was quiet on the set and the light went on above the TelePrompTer, Goodman launched into her daily report, and the show marked the first national TV transmission from GrassRoots.

“It was pandemonium up to the last minute, but everything went well,” said John Masters, executive director of GrassRoots, which will also play host to the nationally syndicated show Thursday.

Democracy Now is a daily, independent, one-hour news show hosted by Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.

Goodman is in Aspen as part of the Ideas Festival at The Aspen Institute, and her visit is part of a nationwide tour. She has been broadcasting from stations across the county, including the Free Speech TV station in Denver on Tuesday, before Wednesday’s satellite broadcast from Aspen.

“To be at GrassRoots TV is such a privilege,” Goodman said after the show. “This is the place for people in the community to make their own media. And we support the power of community-run media to have their voices heard globally.”

Supported solely by viewer contributions, according to the program’s website, “Democracy Now!” can be seen on the web, on local public access TV stations, on public broadcasting and satellite TV as well as more than 700 radio stations ranging from National Public Radio affiliates to small community and college stations.

Locally, the one-hour show airs twice-daily on GrassRoots TV 12, as well as on Carbondale public radio station KDNK.

Goodman also has a nationally syndicated column that appears in the Aspen Daily News, and she said there is a “critical mass” of Aspen support.

Wednesday’s broadcast included reports about Barack Obama’s recent pledge to fund religious groups doing community outreach, Pentagon spying on the Iraqi military, and stories about Guantanamo Bay torture techniques.

“Don’t talk in sound bytes; you have plenty of time to talk,” Goodman told Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, a global security organization focused on nuclear weapons. He spoke with Goodman on the 40th anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Goodman also interviewed actor and playwright Anna Deavere Smith about the role of art in a time of war, as well as Rev. Jim Wallis, who talked about Obama’s plan to fund religious groups.

Democracy Now producers paid GrassRoots the standard $125 studio rental fee, Masters said, and local contributions covered the production costs of two days of live broadcasting.

“I just watch the show all the time,” said longtime Aspen resident Andy Hanson, who was one of only a few locals at Wednesday’s broadcast. “It was awesome to see it live.”

Hanson said “Democracy Now!” is his alternative to watching network and cable TV coverage.

“It’s an important show to me because main-stream media is so wrong so often,” Hanson said.

Katy Carson, 18, who plans to attend film school in the fall, manned one of three cameras on Wednesday’s shoot and said she was nervous she’d slip up during the shoot.

“I learned you need to be really quiet,” she said.

Goodman also sat on a media panel discussing the presidential candidates at the Hotel Jerome on Tuesday evening.

“It’s very important not to focus on individuals but to talk about movements because that’s what’s going to save us,” Goodman said, adding that the stakes are high in the upcoming election.

“It’s about saving the planet,” she said.

And only by grassroots efforts and making oneself heard can people make change.

“What is going to hold their feet to the fire is all of you,” she told Tuesday’s audience.


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