NPR’s ‘On Point’ records live political panel at Kent State


National Public Radio’s Tom Ashbrook, Black United Students’ President Chynna Baldwin and Kent Stater Editor-in-Chief Jimmy Miller conduct a panel at NPR’s On Point show at the Kent State KIVA. Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016.

Brooke Forrest

The National Public Radio show “On Point with Tom Ashbrook” recorded a live discussion panel of Kent State students and faculty Thursday night in the Kiva.

The radio program, presented by local NPR affiliate WKSU, covered many political topics but focused mainly on millennial opinions in this election and the challenges both leading presidential candidates face.

The event opened with introductions by local WKSU radio host Mark Pennell and Kent State President Beverly Warren.

In Warren’s opening address she expressed pleasure for having this special event at Kent State and spoke to the crowd about the university being a fitting place to have this type of program.

“Kent State University’s known the world over for being this great convener, for being a global icon for meaningful voice for so so many years that it truly is in the DNA of this community,” Warren said. “I think that what we have learned over time is that we work best when we really do come together and have challenging and difficult conversations. But we do it in a volume of really appreciating other points of view, standing up for our own point of view and all the while knowing how important it is for us to be engaged, for us to participate in the national dialogue.”

Warren then introduced “On Point” host Tom Ashbrook who spoke about how important young voters are in the key battleground state of Ohio before starting the live radio forum with his panel of Kent State students and faculty.

The panel included Chynna Baldwin, Black United Students president and junior psychology major; Hana Barkowitz, Kent State College Democrats president and junior public relations major; Jennifer Hutchinson, Kent State College Republicans president and senior political science major; Jimmy Miller, editor-in-chief of The Kent Stater and senior journalism major; and Michael Ensley, associate professor of political science at Kent State.

The panel fielded questions on student political beliefs and diversity in politics. They also discussed the importance that Ohio has in the election and what the candidates need to do to win nationally.

Much of the discussion centered on the candidates and how millennial voters feel about them. Barkowitz and Hutchinson often spoke on behalf of their political parties to address candidate driven questions.

After the event, Hutchinson said, in a phone call, “I will say I wish we would’ve focused a little bit more on specific issues facing millennials because that was really supposed to be the topic of the discussion and I feel like we really focused a lot on the candidates, which, not that that’s not important, but I really wish we could’ve delved a little bit more into things that are effecting millennials like student debt, like job security things like that.”

Despite that, Hutchinson said she really appreciated the event and the diverse panel involved, “At the end of the day I’m really glad the discussion was had but I really wish we would’ve focused a little more on those issues.”

“I thought it was great, we had such an enthusiastic audience which is always terrific and I thought that the Kent State students and professor Ensley who was on the stage were all terrific,” said host Ashbrook. “They were candid, (and) they were straightforward and thoughtful.”

Ashbrook has taken his program “On Point” on the road many times before but he said he wanted to come to Ohio because it is a battleground state and chose Kent because it is well known.

“I thought this is a chance to go to a school that people know the name of very well but they might not be up to date with what students are thinking,” Ashbrook said.

After the main panel discussion members of the audience asked Ashbrook questions, most of which dealt with politics.

Kathleen Moorman, a junior political science major and Kent State Political Science Club president, asked a question about the ability of people in different parties to discuss issues with each other.

Moorman said the main reason she came to the event was that she wanted to see how it would play out.

“I was kind of curious to see, to be honest, how they would interact with each other,” Moorman said.

Moorman said there seems like there is a lot of anger and tension in politics and in political talk on campus, but she believes the panelists did stay relatively calm.

Throughout the event Ashbrook referenced the complicated feelings of millennial voters and even quoted several Kent students he talked to earlier about their interest in third party candidates.

Moorman hoped there would be a larger conversation involving third party candidates and millennial issues but said that the “On Point” program ultimately did a good job reflecting most of the student population.

Ann VerWiebe, WKSU marketing and public relations communications specialist, said: “I think it went really well. I think that the student panelists were really well spoken and it was a great display of the quality of students we have here at Kent State. We were excited that so many young people came out to the event and really participated.”

The live event recording was streamed to Facebook Live and aired again nationally Friday during NPR On Point’s regular broadcast time.

Brooke Forrest is the student politics reporter, contact her at [email protected].