Young Alumnus Creates and Hosts Syndicated Radio Show
Midweek Politics with David Pakman, produced by David Pakman '06 (communication and economics) and Louis Motamedi, hit the radio airwaves in August 2005 via WXOJ-Valley Free Radio in Northampton, Massachusetts. And now the show is on a roll. Recently syndicated on the Pacifica Radio Network, it airs on multiple stations nationwide. You can catch it on alternate Wednesdays locally at 7 pm on 103.3FM, and every week on ten other Pacifica radio stations, including Radio Free Moscow in Moscow, Idaho.
The show has featured gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, the mayor of Northampton, and Walid Shoebat, a "reformed Palestinian terrorist," according to Pakman. These days it isn't unusual for people to contact Pakman and his coproducer about being on the show—among them, Michael Shea, director of Red State, and Bill Scher, author of Wait! Don't Move to Canada!
Pakman, a native of Argentina, moved to the Northampton, Massachusetts, area as a child. “I got interested in radio because of Howard Stern, of all people,” he says. “I was always interested in the idea of a public platform like he had while on regular radio. He could simply voice his opinion freely, and people would listen. I assume any radio host with a large audience could have had the same effect, but for me Howard was the one I happened to listen to. The politics part came from my time at UMass Amherst. In many communication courses, discussion of the then-upcoming 2004 elections began. I pursued them with an election-prediction website, heartheissues.com, that tracked polls leading up to the 2004 presidential election.” That website is still active.
Pakman came up with the idea for Midweek Politics when he was an intern at the Media Education Foundation. A flier from Valley Free Radio announced that it was seeking people to host shows, so he submitted a proposal. "They called me back," Pakman recalls, noting that they told him "everybody can have a show, just come to training." The first show involved "just me talking, basically reading information." But soon, he started bringing in clips from the news and conducting interviews."
And all this before he even graduated last spring! “My experience at UMass Amherst was great,” Pakman says. “I had actually been accepted by Northeastern and had even gone to orientation there, but then I changed my mind at the last minute. Besides liking the area, my mom had received her PhD at UMass Amherst. She only had good things to say about it. I felt a certain closeness to the school, having been around it since age 5, being a fan of the sports teams, and so on. I haven’t ever regretted that choice.”
Pakman started off moving toward a management degree, but then realized he was much more interested in media studies and economics. “I am very happy with the foundation those majors gave me,” he says, noting that he is now working on an MBA at Bentley, “I chose to pursue an MBA, instead of an MA in communication, because the consensus was that this degree would provide the most benefit for my situation.” And while Pakman is pretty sure that his future lies in this field, he isn’t positive that it will necessarily be in radio or even in a politically related area, though at this point Pakman rules out nothing.
Midweek Politics carries both live and recorded interviews, listener call-ins, clips from television and radio programs related to politics and current events, and specially produced segments, including "man on the street" interviews, recorded phone calls to political organizations or officials, and more. Guests have included elected public officials, political candidates, members of the military, think tanks and university political clubs, and film producers, among others. The show's website is MidWeekPolitics.com. The post-election show can be heard on MP3.
An article by Mary Cary, Daily Hampshire Gazette (November 14, 2006) provided information for this story.
November 16, 2006