When it comes to learning about governmental issues, host Jim Blow offers all the information a viewer could ask for on his CTN program, Conversations.
And, he says Ann Arbor is a perfect community in which to provide the information because its residents covet the governmental knowledge.
“The primary goal for Conversations is to provide information to the citizens of Ann Arbor concerning the operations and issues related to the city, county, state, and in some cases federal government,” Blow said. “Ann Arbor is a very informed community and many want the background on what is going on. Conversationshelps provide this background.”
All CTN programming – including Conversations – is available on Comcast local-access channels 16, 17,18 and 19 and AT&T 99. Also, CTN is available on YouTube channel ctnannarbor.
Blow is a perfect fit for Conversations. As a former Ann Arbor City Council Member himself (1982-86), he knows the ins and outs of city government. And, he’s not short on experience when it comes to hosting. He has been in theConversations host chair since the show began in 1990, so he understands how to bring the needed information to his viewers.
“I have been with the show from the start,” he said. “The idea began with City Clerk Winifred Northcross… I was asked along with George Wahr Sallade to co-moderate a local issues show, originally titled At Council on each show along with representatives of the media.
“We focused on issues and topics being discussed by Council. George and I co-hosted the show until George passed away in 1997.”
Today, guests for Conversations are lined up by CTN staffer Rob Cross, who informs Blow who the guests will be 2 to 4 weeks before the taping so Blow has time to prepare.
“My preparation is to keep informed of what is going on in and around Ann Arbor,” Blow said. “The guests are from the area, so they are interested in sharing what they are doing and what is important to their responsibility.”
Blow says his favorite shows are the ones where it is clear the guest is passionate about the topic, or his or her responsibility to the community.
“U.S. Representative John Dingell was always an interesting interview,” he said. “I also find interviews with newly elected city officials to be interesting. They often are excited about serving their constituents and committed to what drove them to run for office.”
Conversations is strictly an informational program. There are no features, frills or fluff.
“Because the show has evolved into primarily a news or information format, we have not had many purely feature shows,” he said. “We focus more on updating the viewers on what is going on at City Hall, the County and other levels. We will have representatives from these groups on a regular rotation.
“Each year or so, we try to have the City and County administrators, Police Chief, Sheriff, School Superintendent and department heads from the city.”
The key to a good interview, Blow says, is to have a subject who wants to share what they are doing, and understands how this is important to the public. This can be anything from fixing the roads to recycling to the city budget.
Blow is the host of the show, which requires a lot of talking. But he says listening is just as important.
“The key to drawing the most out of interview subjects is listening,” he said. “Most all guests have much they want to share. When given the opportunity to talk they will often give extended responses. Politicians and government leaders are not shy when it comes to talking.”
Blow doesn’t hesitate to praise the job CTN does in the community.
“The professionalism, commitment and passion of those who work at CTN make it successful,” he said. “The success and pride in CTN is also the result of a commitment from City government and administrations since the 1970s. Their recognition of Ann Arbor’s commitment to community involvement and knowledge has helped keep the funding for facilities and programming going.”
For more information, and to find times for Conversations and other CTN programs, go to www.a2gov.org/ctn.