Thursday, June 26, 2008

Convention "Podium Guy" Retires

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

There's a lot of institutional knowledge when it comes to running the Democratic Convention: People who work or volunteer for the convention every 4 years, regardless of who the candidate is. We've written in the past about Director of Media Operations Wally Podrazik, who's on his ninth convention.

Another key organizer who also started in 1976 is retiring:

Since 1976, one Democrat has been a ubiquitous and calming presence for every politician and activist who ever spoke at the national convention. Michael Berman, now the president of the Duberstein Group, Inc. and a longtime Democratic activist and patron, was a volunteer. It became a specialty of his, something he would take the time to do every four years. He was the podium guy, developing and managing the schedule. In 1988, he built the first media liaison team designed to help broadcasters get the kind of guests they needed for prime time. In '92, '96, '00 and '04, Berman reprised his role as chief scheduler. "After a while, everyone kind of listened to me because I had been around so long," he says.
In May of 2007, Berman said he informed convention chief of staff Leah Daughtry that he would not accept her invitation to join the show this year.

"This all occurred long before we had any idea who the nominee would be," Berman said. "In politics like life, it is important to know when it is time for someone else to have their turn."

Berman is a friend of the Clinton's, so there was some concern that the Obama team had forced him out, but that was clearly not the case, with his notice to Daughtry over a year ago. With Matt Nugen running Obama's convention operations, you would expect very little friction as the DNCC and the Obama team combine forces to plan the convention.