LISTEN: KQED’s New Listener Politics Conversation ‘Eye to Eye’

Gary Wettstein, Terry Shames, and Michael Wagner with 'Eye to Eye' host Brian Watt.

Gary Wettstein, Terry Shames, and Michael Wagner with 'Eye to Eye' host Brian Watt. (Guy Marzorati/KQED)

Since the election, many KQED listeners and readers have expressed concerns about our divided political climate, and the lack of civil political dialogue in their day-to-day lives.

So we decided to create a space where these kinds of encounters can happen, without anyone being shouted down or feeling like they need to clam up. In short, we want to get folks talking face to face, even if they don’t see eye to eye.

We convened our first “Eye to Eye” panel on the morning after President Obama’s farewell speech, and just a few hours after then President-elect Donald Trump’s first news conference. We talked with our guests about how political discussions play out in their own lives, and asked the panelists about views on the other end of the political spectrum they’d like to better understand.

Our first panel’s guests spanned a political and geographic spectrum from within the Bay Area.

Terry Shames comes to our studios from Berkeley, “with all that implies,” she adds. “I’m a wild-eyed liberal and always have been.”

Terry is originally from Texas, and she still talks politics with family members in the Lone Star State who have views that span the political spectrum.

“We have lots of conversations with lots of arm waving and shouting and screaming,” says Shames. “But we love each other in the end and that’s what counts.”

Michael Wagner, a Republican from Palo Alto, gets to hear differing viewpoints a little closer to home.

“My wife is a liberal Democrat and all our mutual friends are liberal Democrats,” he says. “There is no discussion, it’s a huge argument that usually stems from her saying ‘Donald Trump is a racist,’ Donald Trump is a bad guy,’ ‘Donald Trump is evil.'”

Gary Wettstein describes himself as a “blue-collar Democrat.” He joins the panel from Vallejo, where he says he gets to hear a variety of political perspectives at his work.

“We’ve been having some heated discussions, but we end up being to joke at the end and we don’t carry any grudges,” he says. “But they’ve been very interesting since the election has taken place.”

How to Participate

If you would like to participate in a similar political conversation at KQED, call us at 415-870-EYE2 (3932) or email us at

LISTEN: KQED’s New Listener Politics Conversation ‘Eye to Eye’ 6 February,2017Guy Marzorati

  • Nancy

    The latest edition to “Eye to Eye”: This is a great idea, but I was frustrated by this evening’s (Feb. 12) broadcast. Your guest LInda was allowed to monopolize the discussion with her views on politics, society, and liberals. As I understood, this is not the point of the program. The moderator allowed her to go on and on while Greg and Luz had little opportunity to comment. Luz was particularly sensitive to what the others were saying, which I think is the point of the program. But she was given so little air time. She is a listener, one of the best qualities of trying to understand the other person’s point of view, but was not afforded an adequate voice. Please establish some ground rules and make it clear to guests, that they are there for a specific purpose: to listen to each other – not to take over with their opinions.

  • It was nice that finally there was some balance on KQED since the election, not just jibes against Trump. KQED is getting seriously one-sided, which is sad because it takes away from the station’s credibility.

  • Mia James

    I have to commend KQED on trying this idea and last night was a good example of people talking past each other and not having a deep understanding of issues. “Linda” was one of the most arrogant people I have ever heard on KQED. Quick to say that Washington DC has been in chaos and everybody should “just give Trump a chance” and she justifies this by saying that she did not vote for him and is therefore “neutral”. Not in my opinion. First of all, what does she mean by chaos, obstructionism by Congressional Republicans? Let’s just call racism what it is. When you have Senate leaders vowing to make Obama a one-term president, trying to thwart his progressive programs, that is not chaos, that is obstructionism. Obama is a highly ethical person and never had a black mark against his character. And we have quite a different person in the presidency now. And one of the panelists, the gentleman, admits he only listens to small chunks of different programs while he is driving around but quarrels with balance. How would he know? Thankfully there was a reasonable person on the program, who tried to frame the issues as “we are all in this together” but Linda just kept coming back to Reagan-era welfare fraud stories that were not true now and are not true now. And then she went on and on about “generational poverty”. Well, duh. Has she ever visited the south (and I don’t mean LA, I mean the states of Mississippi or Alabama)? and seen the decades long repression of the vote, poor schools, lack of access to electricity and proper plumbing and lots of other discriminatory government actions against the black population. I suggest that “Linda” read some books and open her eyes. I have been there: I have seen the South and I understand generational poverty.
    Thank you to KQED. I heard a great interview with one of the Bannon-clones yesterday. It was obviously taped ahead of time, so that every time the presidential assistant, whose name I believe is Simon Gorka (I may not have the spelling right as I have only heard him on the radio) made an outrageous false statement, there was a pause while the interviewer gave us the truth. All of the persons who work in the Trump administration should be interviewed long in advance so their statements can be fact-checked. By the way, I have family in Bowling Green, Kentucky and there never was a massacre there (maybe in colonial times) that was perpetrated and/or carried out by Muslims.


Guy Marzorati

Guy Marzorati is a reporter and producer for KQED News, the California Report and KQED’s California Politics and Government Desk. Guy joined KQED in 2013. He grew up in New York and graduated from Santa Clara University. Email:

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