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ISSUE 118 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 10/22/2004

Masters debate

By Stephanie Soucheray
News Editor

Friday, October 22, 2004

If you tune in your radio dial to KSTO on Monday and Friday afternoons this fall from 2-3 p.m. you won't hear the latest Libertine's song playing. Instead, you will be introduced to St. Olaf's first-ever political debate show, The Master Debaters.

When Will Herr `07 and Chris Wills `07 were introduced last year by a mutual friend, the two Kildahl residents felt they had a special connection. Herr, a College Democrat, and Wills, a College Republican, felt that their brand of vigorous political debate and disagreement was necessary for the St. Olaf student body to hear because of the upcoming election. Thus, the idea for a political debate show was born.

The goal of our show is to fight against apathy and ignorance during an election year, Herr said. It's fun to listen to us yell at each other, but what we really hope to do is educate our listeners about issues and candidates, Wills said.

Herr, the Kerry campaign campus liaison for the College Democrats and a political science and history major, attributes his left leanings to his childhood.

My parents were both liberals and when I became politically aware after good government and history classes in high school, I became a liberal, Herr said.

Wills, the director of chapter development for the College Republicans and a political science and economics major, found his political home on the dials of his mother's car radio.

My mom listened to a lot of Rush Limbaugh when I was growing up; that influence along with the 2000 presidential election made me see that I agree with the republican party, Wills said.

The idea for The Master Debaters came from Wills who initially thought of it earlier this fall as a show that would only run during election season. Now, with some positive feedback, the friends have thought of carrying their show into next semester.

Both Herr and Wills are quick to say that their views do not represent the parties they are endorsing or the views of St. Olaf College. Although the two seem to infuriate each other during the show, they insist that they are truly friends who, outside of KSTO's studio, get along well.

The content of the show has largely been guided, in recent weeks, by the presidential and vice presidential debates. Issues covered on last Monday's show included President Bush's No Child Left Behind education plan, the validity of Gallup polls, labor unions in America and gay marriage.

Although both Herr and Wills fall into political clichés during the course of the show, (Herr said No Child left Behind should be left behind, and Wills repeated the phrase unions hold you back!) it is evident when listening to the show that both Herr and Wills aren't lying when they say, We live for politics.

As their audience grows and Nov. 2 draws near, Herr and Wills will continue preaching over the airwaves. St. Olaf's first political debate show, thus far, has been a success.

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