Radioman ‘Woody’ talks politics at Northeastern

By Mike Devine

New Hampshire’s Robert “Woody” Woodland, known as the “Greatest Straight Man in Radio” for his talk show eloquence, spoke to students Wednesday about his career as a radio host and the excitement behind the New Hampshire primary.

“The thing about New Hampshire is big numbers always come out to vote in the primary, and the laid back atmosphere gives lesser-known candidates an opportunity to get noticed,” he said.

Woodland, who is an ordained Presbyterian minister, has interviewed almost every presidential candidate who has visited New Hampshire since moving to the state in 1979.

As for the 2008 presidential race, Woodland said he is most interested in meeting New York Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton.

“I was watching a speech she gave on C-SPAN not long ago, and I thought she actually came across as being personable,” he said at the event.

The Merrimack Restaurant in Manchester, N.H., is his favorite spot for meeting presidential candidates, he said. He has also met Carole King, former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile, and the late ABC News anchor Peter Jennings at the restaurant.

Woodland shared many anecdotes from past presidential campaigns, including a limousine ride with Ronald Reagan in 1979, and an interview with Walter Cronkite at his home on Martha’s Vineyard.

Aside from the political aspect of his career, Woodland expressed his hesitation to the deregulation of radio.

“Fewer and fewer people own more of the media, and I don’t think that’s a good thing,” he said.

Woodland was directly affected by deregulation when his radio show on WGIR was canceled to make room for a syndicated program. He said this has become common practice, as large corporations like Clear Channel are eliminating local programming to cut costs.

He now hosts a morning talk show, “The Woody Woodland Show,” which broadcasts on WSMN-Nashua, and last year was voted New Hampshire’s “Best Talk Show” by the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters.

Prior to entering the world of talk radio, Woodland was a public address announcer at the University of Miami in Ohio, where he studied radio and television.

The audience, which consisted primarily of communications majors, asked Woodland his opinions on whether talk radio is fair and his advice for students considering entering the radio world.

He said his greatest advice to students was “to study something else in addition to communications” and to become an expert of knowledge in at least one topic.

Senior communications major Grace Yang said she enjoyed Woodland’s accounts of past experiences, because “firsthand personal testimonies of the radio world” were uncommon for her to hear.

“I thought it was interesting how he talked about social networking, and I was impressed with his stance on ethics,” said Eric Maleck senior communications major.

In the world of radio, social networking is propelled by interviews, which connect with people they may not have otherwise met, Woodland said. In regards to ethics, Woodland said he always strives to be as fair as possible.

“We live in a democratic society, and even though you may not agree with someone’s point of view, it is important to acknowledge that we are all entitled to our own views,” he said.

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