My colleague Sherin and I, along with Sherin’s friend Susan, drove up to Manchester tonight to try and participate in some of the Primary Night fun. We headed for the so-called “Center of New Hampshire,” which is not, despite its name, in the centre of New Hampshire, but is rather the large Holiday Inn convention centre in Manchester where the media is concentrated, and where John Kerry held his Primary Night rally.
We arrived just after 7:00 p.m. (the last polls close at 8:00 p.m.), and wandered around drinking it all in. Media were everywhere — BBC, ABC, Comcast, and CSPAN had studios well in evidence, and there were vast curtained off areas behind which who knows what media deeds were being done.
Eventually we found our way to the Kerry rally, and because of our early arrival I was able to partake of the free vegetables and dip on offer (the only free food of my entire Primary experience). Inside the main ballroom Kerry supporters milled about looking happy and content, and an ever-growing collection of TV crews — I counted 50 tripods by the time we left — pointed at the stage from the back of the room. In the corner a large-screen TV projected the local TV station’s coverage, which resulted in odd parallaxes where a reporter doing a stand-up from the media area would, in turn, be projected on the TV screen in the corner. 3D house of TV horrors.
Next we wandered over to the on-location studios of 96.9 FM Talk, a Boston-area talk-only radio station. Starting at 8:00 p.m., the station’s signature hosts Jay Severin, Margery Eagan and Jim Braude held a special primary-night broadcast. We ambled in and sat down and watched a couple of acts (they are all very talented talk-radio personalities, and it was interesting to see them work as a team). During a break Sherin and Susan went up to the broadcast table and snagged a T-shirt signed by Jay.
By the end of the second act of the radio show, it was clear that Kerry had won the night, and so we headed back to the Kerry rally in the ballroom, which by this time was jam-packed with people. One interesting aspect of all of the events I attended is that there is very strict screening at the door — not for guns, drugs, or alcohol, but rather for hidden signs that might be used to deflect or distract TV coverage from the candidate.
The place was so packed that we lasted only 10 minutes before we had to escape for air.
A little more wandering — including a surprise encounter with Margery Eagan in the hall — and we headed back off into the New Hampshire night.