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For the ninth Convention running, it will be Wally Podrazik – with bullhorn in hand – leading the media though this first glimpse inside the home of the Democratic National Convention.Along with Jackson's speech, I'll throw some other moments that I was in the hall for: The overnight repainting of the podium from blue to Jimmy Carter's campaign color of Green before his speech; Ted Kennedy's speech in 1980; Gary Hart's speech in 1984; Mike Dukakis' entrance into the hall to Neil Diamond's "[Coming to] America", and the Clinton walk from Macy's to Madison Square Garden on New York in 1992. Great pageantry, although not always ultimately succeeding in November.
When Wally isn’t doing media logistics for the DNCC, he is busy writing books. In fact, he’s written ten books over the years, including “Watching TV: Six Decades of American Television” (a season by season story of TV). Wally, a Chicago native, also has written extensively on the greatest band of all time, The Beatles.
Q: We’ve got to ask: What drives you to keep coming back?
A: I love the role the convention plays in the process. This is the launching pad, the beginning of the final run to Election Day. And working with the media organizations is particularly satisfying. Every four years there have been leaps in technology that they’re eager to show off. More important, this is an event that brings out some of the best in journalists. Even as they gripe about preordained outcomes, they’re still here because THEY recognize this as an important event.
Q: Of the nine Conventions you’ve worked for, is it possible to identify a favorite Convention moment?
A: When the speakers connect with the crowd, it’s magic. President Clinton. Rev. Jackson. I can still picture the face of a young woman during the acceptance speech of Geraldine Ferraro as the vice presidential nominee (1984, San Francisco). I happened to look over and saw a joyful tear in her eye. For her, this was more than a speech, it was a moment of great pride, hope, and excitement. After all the business of the logistics of a convention, what ultimately matters is providing a stage, a platform, an opportunity, that allows people to feel invested and a part of our democratic process. It’s a terrific feeling.