WOW!!! What a night. I'm pretty happy with the coverage WDCB was able to provide for our listeners. I've always tried to cover the story that isn't getting covered by broadcasters in the region and that was my goal again last night. Even though the biggest story on the planet was happening just a few zip codes away, we focused on what was happening here in Dupage County. What happened here may not have been as ground breaking as the election of the nation's first African American President...but it was pretty unusual none-the-less. A couple years ago I did a little research and discovered that NO Democrat had ever served on the Dupage County Board until a 2000 when a single Democrat won a seat. Four years later...Dupage County Republicans reclaimed that seat. Last night, Dupage County Democrats struck back and won three of the 12 County Board seats that were on the ballot. Regardless of your political persuasion having both parties represented in local government has got to be good for the system. Now it will be interesting to see how these new County Board members are able to interact with the still firm
I was hoping to have reports last night from the Grant Park Obama rally. WDCB host Bes Nievera had a ticket and we planned to talk throughout the night...but it was apparently very difficult to get a cell signal at the event. Still Bes was among the thousands who were there when. I asked him to describe the experience and here's what he had to say:
CNN and the predictions. In the opening minutes after polls closed in Kentucky and Indiana, the votes seemed to make people instantly anxious. At the Palm restaurant in the Swissotel, badged Obama supporters and VIP guests (who were staged at the Hyatt Regency) voiced their happiness as CNN projected Vermont as an Obama-winning state, but remained mum as the see-saw votes for Indiana began to unfold. Dinner, to say the least, was consumed with a bit of voter indigestion. As we returned to our room at the Hyatt to freshen up and get ready, Obama staffers and volunteers were already on the phones, giddy after receiving early breaking news of projections that would start the swing of Electoral College votes towards Obama.
Blackberry, Blackberry, Blackberry. With each 5-10 foot dance up Michigan Avenue every 10-30 minutes, everyone was glued to their hand held communicators, reading every little bit into the race. “Pennsylvania!”, shouted one man behind us. “They’ve carried Pennsylvania!” My cousin in Cleveland texted me to say that the monitors at the Arizona Biltmore’s monitors had been turned off, and piped music was playing in the auditorium. As the line continued its slow march to the park, one Blackberry showed the NY Times’ Technicolor map of the US as it shifted colors, eyes fixated on battleground states. More cheering as miniature screens flickered with pronouncements of states from coast to coast placing their votes towards Obama. More joyous hugging.
Hugging. Lots of hugging. One woman, who after shouting odes to Ohio’s Obama moment, couldn’t contain her joy – she hugged my wife repeatedly and took shots of every living soul around our line. The hugging was rampant throughout the filed during the course of the evening. Smiles and flashing cameras…enough smiles to wraparound our planet dozens of times. Oh, and did I mention more hugs?
Do you have a ticket? People, young and old, were still trying to get closer to a man and his family now seemingly destined for their footprint of history. Many still wondering if the line we were standing in was the ticket line, and shocked at the length of it (we started at the intersection of 8th and Michigan, across from the Hilton & Towers)…and growing.
What, no frisking? Almost an hour had passed since our slow walk, and we finally made it to the Congress Boulevard Entryway, expecting to open our jackets, breakout the metal and phones. No such issues. In fact, we briskly entered with only an ID, the tickets, and a smile….along with the teeming thousands that had already made the way over to Hutchinson Field. No metal detectors, or bizarre pat downs. All good, and well managed.
Wolf Biltzer has spoken… At about 10:00, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer began the hour with the announcement that would send the crowd into hyper drive. With the words “CNN has projected that Barack Obama will be the next Pres…”, the screams, jumps for joy, applause, tears and open mouths of approval. A happy moment for everyone.
Check, Check, 1, 2 ,3 Some 30-40 minutes after Blitzer’s proclamation, and after the crowd applauded (or booed at) John McCain’s conciliatory speech and his call for the nation into unity, a voice began the count to Obama’s appearance. “This is the last sound check before (we hear from) the next President of the Unites States…Check, Check…One, Two, Three….this is the last sound check…” Now, things were really beginning to pick up. Three songs (including ‘Sweet Home Chicago’), and a video montage…Hey, there’s Oprah! The invocation, and Pledge of Alliegience. A rousing, soulful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner…Reverend (Jesse)Jackson’s tear-swelled face said it all.
Hello Chicago! They arrive and it’s wonderful. The puppy gift for the girls gets the happiest applause, but it’s the speech that causes the sweetest silence among the crowd. We’re listening, and attentively. I turn my head as Obama briefly speaks of his late grandmother and thanks his family to watch a woman shed happy tears. His message is continuous and contagious: we have much more to do. He knows that there will be bumps along the way and he knows what he’s getting himself into, and the crowd is ready to work with him for change. It is an awesome moment. Biden emerges at the end, and the applause is non-stop.
Ye Gods, Man! A Sea of Humanity! The streets are charged – Michigan Avenue from Balbo to Randolph is clogged with people. The center dividers along the Avenue have become video and photo shoot points, with throngs of people flashing away. Screams of happiness, and waves of applause decorate the midnight air. Chicago’s Mounted police patrols are smiling, State Troopers are laughing, and Secret Service are…well dressed.
One last note...I tried to find an extra copy of the Chicago Tribune and/or Chicago Sun-Times
today and they're just not available. For all the talk of the death of traditional media...here's another example of people coming back to the old stand-bys when big stories happen.