Barack Obama's Radio Days

October 27, 2008

I came into work this morning to find the radio program I once produced, Odyssey, on the front page of Drudge. Over the weekend, someone posted audio clips on YouTube from a 2001 program we produced with Sen. Barack Obama as a guest. While we are happy to have our work in the spotlight, we want to provide full context for these remarks. Odyssey was an hour long talk show with a very conversational tone, and Obama, then a State Senator and Senior Lecturer at the U of C Law School, appeared a number of times and spoke at length on a variety of topics (we have been highlighting a number of these clips this fall here on the blog - examples, here, here and here). In the interest of full disclosure, here are links to all of the Obama appearances from the program. These lead to an archived Odyssey website with Real Audio links, so forgive the 2001 aesthetic and audio quality. We hope to get mp3s up later today. The Court and Civil Rights Jan 18, 2001 The YouTube audio is found in this show CourtandCivilRights (http://audio.wbez.org/Odyssey/CourtandCivilRights.mp3) Slavery and the Constitution Sept 6, 2001 SlaveryAndTheConstitution (http://audio.wbez.org/Odyssey/SlaveryAndTheConstitution1.mp3) The Right to Vote Feb 27, 2001 RightToVote (http://audio.wbez.org/Odyssey/RightToVote.mp3 We had some trouble converting the end of this show. We'll get the complete mp3 up later today) Redistricting Apr 23, 2001 Redistricting (http://audio.wbez.org/Odyssey/Redistricting.mp3) Update: Our political reporter Ben Calhoun has a report on the controversy. Update 2: In the comments, Program Director Steve Edwards responded to a question about why Chicago Public Radio has not requested the YouTube clip be taken down due to its use of copyrighted material.
Some of you have inquired as to why we didn't request a takedown notice for the YouTube video. Here's the deal: As an organization we strive to be an impeccable source of independent, unbiased news and information. While our audio content in this case was excerpted and repackaged in way that wasn't in keeping with our own editorial standards, the source audio was available to others on the web and its use in this case was within generally acceptable fair use provisions. Thus, we didn't have any clear legal claim to intervene one way or the other. And more importantly, to do so would have been tantamount to intervening on behalf of the Obama campaign. To take actions that could be construed as helping either campaign (Obama's or McCain's) is contrary to our own standards of reporting in an unbiased and independent manner. Instead, we believed the best approach was simply to make available the original source of the audio - in its entirety - for others to listen to themselves and to decide what Senator Obama said and meant.