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Alterna-Talk Shows Take on the Old Guard

Two self-styled interviewers are ready for their close-ups, as both “Roske on Politics” and “The Open Mind” take to the D.C. airwaves to freshen up the political conversation.  

One-time House hopeful Brent Roske in late 2014 went all-in on covering campaigns, ditching sunny Southern California for snowy Des Moines to move closer to the electoral action. His prescient change in latitude now appears to be paying off in spades: The “Chasing the Hill” vet has garnered an Emmy nomination for his video chats with visiting candidates and others . The show has been so well received, in fact, that Roske’s brand of up-close-and-personal discussions will pop up on a local NBC affiliate this fall. Roske told HOH the show is scheduled to air on WHAG in Hagerstown, Md., beginning on Oct. 11, and that it’ll slide into the slot immediately following “Meet the Press.” (“Roske on Politics” videos can be found on Roll Call’s video page .)  

Meanwhile, second-generation broadcaster Alexander Heffner is also taking control of the local airwaves, adding his show, “The Open Mind ,” to WETA’s public affairs programming.  

The first nationwide broadcast — Heffner said the show tapes in New York, which he maintains provides a “less polarized political climate” for potential guests — took place Sunday at 11 a.m. and featured former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.  

Not that Heffner is solely interested in picking politician’s brains.  

His guest list includes entertainers (musician Aloe Blacc), journalists (Alberto Ibarguen), authors (Salman Rushdie), comedians (J.B. Smoove) and anyone else Heffner believes might have something interesting to say. “The essence of it is the idea of being a refuge from the slugfest,” he said of his mission to steer clear of the poll-driven, ideologically locked shows.  

The way Heffner sees it, the show is part legacy — his grandfather Richard Heffner created the show in 1956 and conducted the signature one-on-one interviews until his death in 2013 — and part work in progress, primarily because there is still so much work to do.  

“You have to be a truth teller and forthcoming and honest … and, at the same time, still be civil,” Heffner said of the tight-wire act he faces operating in a hyper-partisan environment.  

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