Thom Hartmann @ Ithaca College

On Friday September 25th I went to see Thom Hartmann broadcast his radio show live from Ithaca College in beautiful Ithaca NY. As always it was a masterful program. Thom is so calm and professional dealing with dropped signals, misbehaving audio, feedback screeching in his ear, in the midst of live broadcasts. Perhaps his composure is why he is also able to converse with and debate staunch conservatives like Mark Finkelstein host of “Right Angle”.

It being Friday, we were treated to “Brunch with Bernie”, a weekly conversation and question and answer segment with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) from Vermont. Always a pleasure. Sen. Sanders pulls no punches and answers all questions with clarity and useful information that invites the caller to dig deeper and take action on the issues that engage them.

There was a good crowd of enrgetic, involved middle aged folk of all walks of life, happily soaking up the energy and focus of the show. Health care was of course a major topic but so was the financial industry, the war and farm issues were on more than one person’s list of concerns. One erudite woman took Thom and other news makers to task for not being aware earlier of the racial hatred that fuels some of the opposition to Obama’s policies, and to ask them to take care in the way they express opposition to Obama so as to not use phrases and catch words that could be used by the more radical on the right as inspiration for crimes. I wish I could express myself as well as she did.

Mark Finkelstein, when asked about whether health care was a right or a privilege, answered that, as it was not in the Constitution it was not a right. He also used the “success” of the free market system in providing affordable food, as a reason to use the market to provide health care and health insurance. So Ana guesses he means we should impoverish our doctors, produce our pharmaceuticals in third world countries where regulations are less stringent , and bring in illegal immigrants to run our hospitals? Oh wait – I think that’s already happening.

One concern I had was the lack of young people at the event. Yes there were groups of students who filed in at various times to fulfill class requirements, all with open computers doing what I am not sure. Hopefully they were not Tweeting, emailing, playing games or watching American Idol on Hulu. This is Ithaca College, the Park School of Broadcasting. We need energetic, concerned and informed young people to become prepared to take over the reins from Thom Hartmann, Amy Goodman and yes even Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. We need smart, young strong voices now to keep young people interested in what’s happening to them and inspired to make a difference. I didn’t see the evidence of that at this event – hopefully that just means that I wasn’t paying enough attention.