15 years, four governors and change

by Tom Campbell, executive producer and moderator of NC SPIN

September 16, 2013

NC SPIN is approaching a milestone, our 15th year of broadcasting balanced debate for the Old North State. I’ll never forget that first show. We were all wondering if we would have enough to talk about for more than six months, but here we are 778 shows later. We have covered four governors and spoken to many changes in our state.

The genesis of NC SPIN came when I mentioned to John Hood that I wanted to start a TV show that dealt entirely on North Carolina issues, similar to the PBS show, The McLaughlin Group. John’s first job out of journalism school was as an intern with Fred Barnes, one of the panelists on that show and he offered to help in formulating the format and production details he had learned. He also expressed interest in appearing on the show. I told him that he could represent the right but we needed an equally persuasive panelist from the left. Almost simultaneously we both thought of Chris Fitzsimon and the three of us had lunch at a Raleigh restaurant and penciled out the concept on a napkin that day.

Perhaps the biggest change in this period has been one of attitudes. When we first started NC SPIN in 1998, there was an overall belief that while we had problems they were fixable and we had confidence that those we elected and appointed were working on our behalf to fix them. But as the cost of running state government increased and the problems grew larger people grew more frustrated, because instead of working together to resolve our issues our leaders grew more partisan and more adversarial.

Looking back at those early shows (I still had hair, but it was turning gray) we’ve grown and hopefully gotten better at presenting relevant issues and more meaningful debate. We’ve been fortunate to have had some of the brightest political minds in North Carolina as panelists and blessed with a loyal base of viewers and listeners. We appreciate the positive comments we constantly hear from people that we are offering honest and balanced discussion on the issues affecting our state. We also listen to the criticisms, even the mean-spirited and obviously partisan ones.

NC SPIN is the only independently produced talk show in our state, the longest running program of its kind in North Carolina history. Recently we have greatly expanded our web presence and social networking and video streaming on YouTube in an effort to give people more opportunity to voice their opinions and have been gratified that more than 25,000 per week check in to ncspin.com, NC SPIN on Facebook or on Twitter @ncspintweets.

Frequently we hear people from other states wonder how they could duplicate these efforts in their own state, recognizing that better-informed people can indeed make better decisions. It would be dishonest to say it has been easy. We constantly struggle to get TV and radio stations to air the program, especially at times viewers will watch, and while more than 100,000 people per week tune in, it is difficult finding businesses or organizations willing to provide the financial underwriting needed to produce and distribute television and radio programs to our network of stations across the state.

There are many behind the scenes you don’t see, including our wonderful production crew, led by director Clarence Williams, floor managers Tim King, Al Robinson and audio/graphics operator Allison King. Most have been with the show since its inception. And Matt Corey has been just as faithful in editing, uploading and helping with the production. We cannot fail to praise our office manager, Cynthia Whitaker, or Richard Campbell, who, as president of our company, has brought fresh ideas and energy to us all.

NC SPIN is a labor of love, one we continue because we genuinely believe we are raising the level of public issue discussion and helping to inform people.

To kickoff our 16th year of NC SPIN, we are honored to have a one-on-one interview with Governor Pat McCrory. Pat appeared on NC SPIN several times as a panelist and was kind enough to grant us a similar interview as he was sworn in to be governor. We wanted the governor to be able to speak directly to our audience about the first eight months of his administration.

Tune in this week to watch and help us celebrate 15 years of NC SPIN.