ArtsRock panel considers the 2016 election: 'One Year & Counting'

October 16, 2017 - BACK TO ALL NEWS

Elliott Forrest promises it won't feel like a wake.


"I'm hoping to stress the entertainment value," the WQXR radio host and ArtsRock artistic director proclaims with a laugh. "I have had people who love the news and are very active who are asking, 'Is it going to be fun?' And I tell them, 'We'll have Robert Klein, and John Hockenberry, and ... me! It'll be fun."

"It" is Sunday's "One Year & Counting," a look at the world since the 2016 presidential election, the third in a trilogy of ArtsRock panel discussions to look at that pivotal race.

The first was nearly two years ago, when Donald Trump was the longest of long shots.

The second was days after the release of the bombshell "Access Hollywood" tape in which the then-candidate was heard telling Billy Bush about his treatment of women.

And now, a year after Trump's election, Forrest is back leading an ArtsRock panel discussion.

The panelists will be:

  • Comedian Robert Klein;
  • Gloria Feldt, former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of American and now co-founder and president of TAKE THE LEAD, a women's training and empowerment business;
  • John Hockenberry, the Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and anchor of "The Take Away" on WNYC and Public Radio International; and
  • Hannah Song, president of Liberty in North Korea, a group that helps refugees from North Korea.

"We'll talk on all aspects of where we are a year later and how people are feeling," Forrest says.

He'll talk with Klein about how late-night comedians are dealing with Trump, with Hockenberry about the president calling journalists "the enemy of the people," and with Feldt, a lifelong friend of Forrest's from his days growing up in west Texas, about women's issues in the age of Trump.

After introducing and talking with the panelists, Forrest will interview Song, who runs a group that helps refugees from North Korea.

Asked why there is no defined Trump supporter on the panel, Forrest says: "The honest truth is that these are the people I wanted to talk to this time."

Last year, on Oct. 8, was "One Month and Counting," with guests that included Hockenberry, commentator Nancy Giles, and Edward Cox, the son-in-law of Richard Nixon who was then the head of the New York Republican State Committee.

The timing has made for interesting ArtsRock discussions.

"Donald Trump, two years ago was part of the race, and we touched on that, but nobody really believed it would happen," Forrest says. "A year ago, on Oct. 8, it was days after the 'Access Hollywood' tape and, even though Edward Cox was a Trump supporter on our panel, it was a little crazy.

"The idea that I have a North Korean expert on Sunday's panel and we have a lot of saber-rattling, I hope nothing happens between now and then," Forrest says.

ArtsRock is nonprofit and nonpartisan and - while audience and panelists alike will be encouraged to voice their opinions - Forrest, as ArtsRock executive and artistic director and an employee of New York Public Radio's WQXR, "will attempt to be as nonpartisan as I possibly can."

"It's my job to be present. I'll have a group of questions and I'll have an arc," he says. "And we'll get to hear from Hannah, who will give us a perspective on North Korea and the people who live there."

Forrest concedes his audience will likely be left of center, but he hopes that conservatives will attend and will weigh in with their perspective on the election and its aftermath.

"I know my audience and I believe it will be fair and fun."

Forrest says Rocklanders are in tune with the news - and can be forgiven if they're a little news-weary.

"There's seemingly always a new crisis or a new way of looking at things from a political standpoint and a government standpoint and it's exhausting," he says. "I'm hoping this is a bit of catharsis and gives people a chance to laugh and think all at the same time."

For that, he's relying on the comic on the stage.

"Robert has always had something to say, about Obama and Bush. I'm very much looking forward to what he has to say."

'One Year & Counting'

What: A panel discussion one year after the 2016 presidential election, hosted by ArtsRock's Elliott Forrest.

Where: Old Nyack High School, 131 North Midland Ave., Nyack. (Use the entrance on Fifth Avenue.)

When: 2 p.m., Oct. 15.

Tickets: $25


With: Robert Klein, comedian; Gloria Feldt, co-founder of Take the Lead, former CEO of Planned Parenthood; John Hockenberry, anchor of "The Take Away" on WNYC; Hannah Song, president of Liberty in North Korea.

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