Not Condemning: Media lesson for Stuart Young; a little broughtupsy never hurt nobody

What would make Minister Stuart Young think that he could call in on a radio programme last Friday—or any day for that matter!—and deliver his treatise without interruption? What would make such a thought even enter his brain?

Ignorance? Arrogance? Or is it, to follow the lead of the PNM Political Leader who has developed a penchant for coining new words, ignorrogance?

Photo: Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs and Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young.
(Courtesy IRCP.Gov.TT)

As far as I am aware, when you call a radio station, you have to abide by the station’s rules. Mariano Browne did not invite you, Minister Young; you invited yourself so you cannot expect to dictate the rules of the game.

Speaking of rules, I am not very clear on the rules by which the government can claim a certain amount of media time every month. What is clear, however, is that it is not relevant in the instant case. Government minister or no government minister, if you have not paid for the broadcast, you have no right to determine the rules of engagement. Not even to attempt to.

I liken Minister Young’s behaviour to his storming a fete. How he could vex if deh trow he tail out? He eh pay a cent so he eh ha no right dey!

From an etiquette point of view, he was completely wrong. It was intolerably ill-mannered to call in to the station and not want to engage in even the minimum of courtesies. As far as media engagement is concerned, it was also bad strategy, especially as no subsequent official explanation was forthcoming of what is actually happening with the CNC/NGC impasse.

And perhaps most tellingly for a politician, subsequent calls to the station say unequivocally that, even if he thinks he won the battle, he certainly lost the war. Callers expressed concern that there was not a full discussion about the implications of NGC cutting off the gas supply to CNC. If this is not resolved, we could crash the entire Point Lisas Estate because most of the plants will need to renegotiate their gas supply contracts soon.

Media Engagement 101 teaches you, Minister Young, that it is of no consequence whether or not you like the host or agree with what he thinks; you simply have no choice but to play by his rules.

Photo: Former TV6 boss Dominic Kalipersad, who famously refused to be bullied by then Attorney General Anand Ramlogan during a discussion on the State of Emergency.

You see, what matters is that Mr Browne has developed a loyal listenership over many years. His content is generally viewed as being informational and educational. It is beyond dispute that he has created a space for simple dialogue on complex economic and financial issues. Many see him as having demonstrated that his interest is in the country and not in any particular party.

And even if that were not so, you simply can’t behave as if you own the place. As far as we know, you do not.

If it were possible to wipe the slate clean and rewrite this horror story, there are five things I’d suggest you do. The first is to make sure that you are very clear on the reason for your action or what is your why. This is ultimately what becomes your key message.

Suggestion number two also has to do with your key message: don’t forget to summarize it at the end of the conversation.

Impatience and anger are definitely not assets during a public “appearance,” number three warns. You would be well advised to breathe deeply before you go on air so both disappear, even if they are present before you begin.

Number four is so obvious that I am a little embarrassed to add it here: stick to your script and keep the exchanges cordial and the conversation pleasant.

Photo: Deep breath…
(Copyright Disney)

But all four of those suggestions become rather less important if you are willing to go with number five: have one of your functionaries call the host and ask politely if there is any objection to your calling in and making a contribution on the issue; the likelihood of aggro is then severely reduced.

Minister Young, you had an opportunity to provide clarity on an issue that can have broad, long-term implications for the development of this country. Instead, you chose the bully strategy, seeing that opening as an opportunity to stuff something down the citizenry’s throats. That is perhaps why you tripped over the issue of whether or not the matter is sub judice or merely confidential, which, you should know, some citizens will probably take to mean this: “We are not discussing this with you stupid people.”

Minister Young, your intemperance is just one more thread in the tangled web of government’s mismanagement in general and, in particular, mismanagement of its communication strategy—if we can be generous and say that one exists.

Minister Young, I have heard it said often that “who have more corn feed more fowl.” Given the feeding frenzy of 2010-2015 and the forced frugality of the current period, will incumbency guarantee you the advantage of superior corn stocks the next time the election bell rings?

Minister Young, communication has to convey the “corn” message. And ultimately it is the better communicator who will reach more of the citizenry. Our country continues to underperform and the legacy voters (i.e. those who provide your power base) continue to disappear. It is not hard to see people like you, who represent a cohort of failed young PNM politicians, waving the opposition flag.

Photo: Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs and Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young.

After all—and I sincerely hope that you will prove me wrong—your presence has changed neither the game nor the methodology.

Not condemning, just commenting.

Editor’s note: The incident to which the writer refers occurred on Friday 26 January on the i95.5fm Friday morning show which Mariano Browne co-hosts with Ardene Sirjoo. Minister Young called in and, after fielding a couple of questions from Browne, attempted to read a prepared statement while Browne continued to fire questions at him. Young insisted on reading his text, Browne on interrogating him.

Neither man would give way and voices were raised. Browne eventually announced that he was not prepared to be bullied on his programme and the conversation ended.

It is unclear whether Minister Young rang off or Browne pulled the plug on him.

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  1. It’s amazing how people have this idea that when politicians are no longer affiliated with a political party and decide to present a viewpoint that is contrary to the party line emanating from White Hall, that they have “an axe to grind”…could it be that now that they no longer have to toe the party line and digest on a continual basis the same slop of mindless propoganda they did whilst they held office,that they can truly look at issues with a bit more objectivity and now be willing to call a spade a spade..?…as for Young, the apparent Swiss Army Minister of everything…he tried to replicate Anand’s performance,this time on radio,only to be similarly schooled by the host of the show…it’s amazing how the sycophants have no issue whatsoever with that level of arrogance and stupidity coming from member of their party but feel down right indignation when the shoe is on the other foot

  2. If you jave a call in then anyone can call in. You cannot be biased.

  3. all you temper it down, next thing they ban talk radio

  4. grown men speaking WA do Bjork

  5. Can Young say why they caved in to a price increase to the upstreamers in Houston recently and if that is the reason NGC is now forced to demand more money from their customers now?

  6. Manners are important full stop. It does not begin or end with a political entity or being.

  7. Remember when a PNM prime minister barged in into 104.2 FM? And another one chasing a TV crew out of the Arima velodrome?

  8. Learning from the master,the one and only Dr Boss,go figure.

  9. Everyone who knows the history of these 2 talk show hosts would realise they both have axes to grind.

  10. They have nothing on Minister Young do they trying to discredit him with pettiness even bringing in his personal life situation. What a shame and how professional have we become?

  11. True pnm style bullying dats why his wife left him too arrogant and ignorant when u corner dem and dey cant answer d questions dat us what dey resort too bullying

  12. That is pushylal the pompeck all talk no results.

  13. To confirm Minister Young did call into to the the I95 Mandate programme on the 26th January about 1130 am. This is the second occasion on which he did this. The first was “clarify for the benefit of the listening public” matters dealing with the Tobago ferry. He entertained no questions from my guest Diana Haddad. Both times i allowed Mr Young great latitude. This time After 4-5 minutes of uninterrupted speech by Mr. Young, i attempted to ask a question. He answered one question and then continued with what appeared to be a prepared text. i attempted to ask another question and he continued talking without responding to my request for an answer. I was able to get him to pause at which time I pointed out that as host I am entitled to ask questions for my benefit and for that of the listening public. Further, there were several avenues available to him to make a statement if he so desired, but the programme was not one of them. At this point Mr Young thanked me for the opportunity to speak, bid me good day and hung up. We did not cut him off the air and everything was live. For the benefit of clarity and transparency I will publish a copy of the audio programme on Facebook.

    • Mariano,
      Thank you for the intervention and the clarification. Now I see why you are not a part of the Rowley Administration; you don’t talk down to people so you wouldn’t be a good fit.

  14. Apparently you’re hardly on fb to see most of these comments that lack decency and respect.

  15. Everyone knows that he speak for everyone always want to be in the center of everything, He is like Wednesday in the middle.!

  16. I listened too and I thought Young was forthright and was trying to get his counterpoint before Mariano cut him off. Mariano seems now to come on radio and speculate, run a scenario based on his speculation, then make his conclusion fact. CNC is now saying it is willing to pay +$4 per cubic foot for gas. Mariano said last Friday that could never happen.

  17. Always arrogant and distasteful behavior and only comments when a “defence” is needed……his opinion is what matters !

  18. I heard it live… Mariano was very fair.. Young kept talking talking talking and when asked by Mr browne to allow him to intercede was very rude. .Brown responded tge best way he could “well this is my programme and i will dictate how it run, you called in and i have allowed you a listening “.. or something to that effect. Now i must add that sometimes i wonder if the person calling in hears the moderator eh… cause ive heard it before where the moderator is trying to intervene and the caller just continues speaking

  19. Who paid for the Call.? Don’t they ask people to You have a choice. What is this now..When the action doesn’t suit you It is now a Federal Office. Get real..

  20. they lucky that Young did not come into the station and fix them

  21. It is very apparent to me that both Mariano Browne and Dennise Demming who were /are strong PMNites have developed some sort of tabanca with their party based on the fall outs they have experienced. I certainly can’t understand the bitterness and acrimony they have towards their party. I don’t agree that because someone, regardless of whom it is, calls into a program and does not want to be engaged into in a particular line of conversation that it can be considered as I’ll mannered.

    That is all part of talk radio and is to be expected. Talk radio is NOT a tea party especially when it comes to politics or any emotionally charged topic. I think Ms. Demming is just a sore loser and is using every attempt to attack her PNM since she was fired from the Tourism Authority.

    Maybe she needs to understand talk radio 101. Big steups to her, she needs to get on with her life and stop trying to bully those who don’t conform to her thinking.

    • “… someone, regardless of whom (sic) it is, calls into a program and does not want to be engaged into in a particular line of conversation that it can be considered as I’ll mannered (sic).
      Really? Is that the issue? Doesn’t the caller have the option of hanging up? Does the caller have the option of saying to the host “You shut up, I have a speech I want to deliver.”
      I think the issue centres on authority (Browne) and (attempted) abuse of power (false authority) (Young).
      I certainly do not see how the issue of political colour enters the discussion at all.
      But maybe I’m just political colour-blind.

    • Cannot understand why people have turned from the PNM. Really.

      Is this an objective view or a party member view.

    • Mariano Brown and Dennise Demming Are people who put good sense and fairness before politics and allegiance to a party, something that few of us are capable of doing, and I commend them for taking such a stance. When things are wrong regardless of party affiliations one must be able to criticize and share alternative solutions, not hide behind party symbols.Because Young is a minister gives him the right to dismiss all forms of decorum and behave in a rather hostile manner? Not at all, he is a paid public servant of the people and must conduct himself in a much better way. And you expect me to give them the title of “Honourable”? Not in a thousand years.

    • Mike Penco Mr Browne was speaking from an uninformed position, he didn’t even know what was the price tag CNC wanted the Natural Gas for ..Minister Young informed him that if NGC sell the Gas at that price it mean they would be loosing and taxpayers would be paying the subsidy to Bridge the pricing. When he was given the information he couldn’t justify what he said all morning..the man has an ego where he feels what he analyzes and says is gospel… his egotistical attitude made Barbados hate him

    • The way Ben Nel talks about the PNM,one would imagine it to be akin to Disney World, with rivers and seas of chocolate and endless KFC for everyone…indeed who in their right mind would want to abandon that Utopia for the real world?

    • Mr. Marc Gall it would appear that either you have not read my entire post or the mention of PNM has gotten your gall. Indeed how on heavens name you can compare all those life threatening foods to an Utopia. Come on man I’m sure you can do better than that unless of course you are putting Mr. Browne and Ms. Demming in your Utopia. Blessings.

  22. She would condemn anything PNM after being relieved of the Chairmanship of a Government Board.

  23. Nice article. Pity I missed it but why not have him read his statement? I think we can extend courtesies beyond the norm for a Minister of government.

    • The issue, Steupz, is not whether he should have been allowed to read his statement. I doubt whether the writer disagrees that he should have. The issue, Ihear her saying, is the terms of engagement. Who decides when the statement can be read? The caller or the host?

      One hand cyar clap, sir. And even Minister Young won’t be able to achieve that if he tries. But if would not surprise me to discover that he thinks he can; power (cf your reference to a “Minister of government”) does not only corrupt, it also blinds.

      • Exactly. I get the impression that this was another arrogant minister throwing his power around. Don’t call in and bully the host of the show, answer his questions. You have a statement to make, issue a press release.

  24. Any of the late prime minister’s men women of business are head and shoulders above this current crop.
    Colm like he does have them in class

  25. I admit i missed hearing of this incident.
    However, the arrogance referred to is what some call the ‘blue light syndrome’.
    It might be wise to remember that for many, in a couple of years, they may revert to being everyday citizens. Facing many of the same challenges we do.
    But I can’t say I am surprised at the lack of proper communication or the level of arrogance-just look to the leadership.

  26. Buh eh-eh, who he tink he is? Anand Ramlogan?

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