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What it Means to be a Panel Based Show

Throughout its nineteen year history, Colorado Inside Out has always prided itself on being a panel based show. But, what exactly does that mean? Our hosts over the years, Ken Hamblin, Peter Boyles and Raj Chohan, have certainly placed an indelible stamp on the series and are in charge of driving each discussion.

However, what most viewers may not know is that the panel is the where the buck stops when it comes to deciding issues and stories that will be discussed.

If as producer of the program, I provided a script of stories that the panel didn’t want to discuss, the show would fall flat and frankly, would be unwatchable. The show is a success because the panel, along with the host, really drive that bus.

Today was a great example of that driving ability. No viewers watching tonight will be able to tell that the entire script was changed less than five minutes before we rolled tape. Those changes made the show much better than how I originally scripted it to be, but admittedly, did make for some nervous moments as I typed out a new topic three minutes before we rolled tape.

Some weeks have events that both the panelists and I know we will talk about, well ahead of Friday. However, this week, there were many stories that were on the fence. Our script was made up of many of those stories, ideas that could carry a good conversation, or could possibly derail the discussion.

Before each show, I sit down with Raj and the panel and ask if we need to change the order of any of the topics. We sometimes change the order here or there, but usually not too many changes are mentioned. That’s usually the case.  Today was not usual.

Today, we added a topic about the immigration bill that State Senator Kent Lambert proposed that would mirror the controversial Arizona law. That wasn’t in the original script because that space was taken by a topic about Senator Udall’s new seating arrangement idea gaining more steam.

We felt as a team that we would cover the Udall idea next week, after the State of the Union speech, and the immigration bill was an important one to tackle right now. We also changed the order of the other three topics, including the very first “lightning round” topic we use during our introductions.

Producers and talent change the order of stories all of the time on shows. I don’t consider that part to be a big deal. However, to come up with a new story and to have each panelist prepared to contribute, says something very special about the talent we gather each week.

Each panelist, with great questions from Raj, was able to handle the new story with only about five minutes of notice before we started the show. No one insisted on some fetching them research or bellyached that they didn’t have the background on the issue. They simply jumped in and still provided great insight on a very important issue.

I don’t take that impressive ability for granted. It’s just one of the many reasons I love working on this show, and love working with these very talented people.

I hope you enjoy watching them.

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