LET’S GET POLITICAL

By Brooke Adams, communications specialist, University Marketing and Communications 

From GOP infighting to the WikiLeaks email hacks and the rise of a viable third-party presidential candidate in Utah, there has been no shortage of political surprises this fall—which has provided perfect timing for the launch of “The Hinckley Report.”

KUED launched the weekly half-hour public affairs series in partnership with the Hinckley Institute of Politics on Sept. 30. “The Hinckley Report” is modeled after “Washington Week” on PBS, which features a roundtable of journalists discussing the issues of the week. Its goal: elevate the dialogue surrounding pressing political issues and how they relate to Utah.

The show, which airs on Fridays at 7:30 p.m., has provided a provocative take on local and national events from a rotating roster of Utah journalists and political observers. Guests have included Max Roth of Fox 13 News, Robert Gehrke of The Salt Lake Tribune, Heidi Hatch of KUTV-2 News, political commentator Frank Pignanelli, Emily Clark of KTVX ABC4, former state Sen. Steve Urquhart and Lisa Riley Roche of the Deseret News.

“We have been thrilled with the response to the show,” said host Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute and the U’s vice president for government relations. “We’ve been particularly blown away by our fantastic guests. Their knowledge, analysis and wit have made each show fun and compelling.”

KUED, he said, has been a wonderful partner. “Their behind-the-scenes work elevates each show,” Perry said.

Lisa D. Olken, KUED director of content, said ratings have doubled since the debut.

“My expectations have been surpassed,” Olken said. “‘The Hinckley Report’ is one month old and it’s really the only news and political series in this market that is thought provoking, informative, humorous and highly entertaining—and that’s a great combination to have. I think it’s not only about the knowledge and experience of the host but also the street cred of the guests—those who bring their facts, opinions and ‘aha’ moments to the table. There’s a great deal of banter and back and forth, friendly debating that goes on and so it does feel like we are elevating the discourse and dialogue in Utah.”

A yet-to-be announced all-star guest panel will dissect election results and plans are in the works for a special show focused on women in politics. From January to April, “The Hinckley Report” will focus on the Utah Legislature as well as the new Congress and presidential administration.

“I’m excited about the potential for the water cooler conversations that I hope we spark in the community,” Olken said. “Utah is at the epicenter of national politics right now and I’m thrilled that KUED and ‘The Hinckley Report’ are a playing an important role.”

“The Hinckley Report” airs on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. on KUED Channel 7. Past episodes and web extras also are available at kued.org/hinckleyreport.