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Washington Journal

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Washington Journal
GenreNews and public affairs
Opening themeTrumpet Concerto No. 2 (Johann Melchior Molter)
Ending themeTrumpet Concerto No. 2 (Molter)
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Production locationsWashington, D.C., U.S.
Running time180 minutes
Original release
ReleaseJanuary 4, 1995 (1995-01-04) –

The Washington Journal is an American television series on the C-SPAN television network in the format of a political call-in and interview program. The program features elected officials, government administrators, and journalists as guests, answering questions from the hosts and from members of the general public who call into the studio or submit questions via e-mail and social media.

The three-hour program airs every day of the year, beginning at 7 a.m. Eastern Time,[1] except when special events or coverage of Congress preempt all or part of the program. The audio of the program also airs on WCSP-FM as a simulcast with the television broadcast.[2]

Background and production[edit]


The Washington Journal's antecedent is the C-SPAN daily call-in, a fixture of the network since October 7, 1980.[3] The inaugural the Washington Journal program aired on January 4, 1995, and the program continues to be shown on C-SPAN in its original time slot. Saturday and Sunday editions were originally just two hours long; on January 20, 2001, they were expanded to a full three hours.[1]

Simulcasts of Washington Journal on C-SPAN's radio station, WCSP-FM, began on October 9, 1997; it was the first program to be broadcast on the station.[2] One hour of the Sunday edition of Washington Journal is also simulcast on BBC Parliament in the United Kingdom, preceded by America This Week, an hour of recorded C-SPAN programming.[4]


The Washington Journal host Greta Brawner interviews Adm. Thad Allen, USCG (Ret.), on May 26, 2010.

At the beginning of each program, the host reads noteworthy articles and editorials from current newspapers and periodicals as viewers discuss a timely topic chosen by C-SPAN. The program occasionally features "open phones" segments when callers may discuss any topic of their choosing. In multiple segments following, the host interviews guests invited to discuss a specific political or legislative issue and takes calls from the public.[2][5] Most guests appear in C-SPAN's Washington or New York City studios, while some guests are interviewed from remote locations.[6]

The program is noted for the participation of its viewers, who may call in, submit questions and comments via e-mail, or, since March 5, 2009, Twitter.[1] As facilitators of conversation between the public and C-SPAN guests, Washington Journal hosts do not offer their own perspective on issues and leave more pointed questions to callers, though they will occasionally ask for clarifications from callers and guests. Consistent with its emphasis on reflecting a wide variety of viewpoints, C-SPAN aims to take approximately 60 calls in each program, and roughly 20,000 calls per year.[7]

In the early days of the Washington Journal, callers were not screened by ideology. This was changed at the recommendation of University of Maryland professor John Splaine, hired by C-SPAN to ensure the network's objectivity, who noticed that C-SPAN received a disproportionate number of calls from conservative viewers. Washington Journal producers now set up separate phone lines by party affiliation (Democrats, Republicans, and Independents) and take alternate calls from each line.[8] In some cases, a dedicated call-in line is made available for the international audience (outside the U.S. and Canada) or for a particular group of callers. For example, a program about college tuition may have a line for students and recent graduates.[9] In the fall of 2006, the Washington Journal recorded two shows in New Orleans and set up a call-in line for locals to tell their stories from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.[6]


The show is hosted from C-SPAN's Washington, D.C., studio overlooking the Capitol Building[10] and is hosted by a revolving set of hosts. In November 2009, C-SPAN named veteran television news producer Michele Remillard as executive producer of the Washington Journal.[11]

The Washington Journal theme music is the third movement of Concerto for Trumpet, no. 2 by Johann Melchior Molter[12] (1696-1765), played at various points during each broadcast. The theme is used as introductory music, as an interlude during transitions, and is played again as the program concludes.

A Video simulcast of the C-SPAN Radio studio has been shown during transitions at the top of an hour, with the radio host reading the day's news headlines. The program airs 365 days a year. The Washington Journal uses no delay, so obscene or other objectionable language will occasionally be heard, though offending callers are normally cut off promptly. Callers are asked to wait 30 days between phoning in, though this rule is pointed out to be violated by the program's regular viewers occasionally.

Notable guests and events[edit]

For several days following the September 11 attacks, the Washington Journal began at 6 a.m. instead of 7 a.m.[13] Following Hurricane Katrina, the Washington Journal frequently featured discussions on the issue of New Orleans' recovery. On August 21 and 22, 2006, a remote broadcast was set up in the city to interview key players, including U.S. senators David Vitter and Mary Landrieu, and local homeowners.[6]

Among C-SPAN's primarily anonymous callers, recording artist and entertainer Cher made waves by calling into the show on October 27, 2003. Although she intended to call anonymously, host Peter Slen correctly guessed her identity, which she reluctantly admitted. She called again on May 28, 2006, and waited on hold for her call to be taken.[14][15] Then subsequently appeared on the program on June 14, 2006, to speak about Operation Helmet, a nonprofit organization providing helmet upgrades for U.S. soldiers.[14][16]

Notable hosts[edit]




  1. ^ a b c "C-SPAN Milestones". C-SPAN. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Marc Fisher (21 October 1997). "C-SPAN for Drive Time; 'Washington Journal' Makes Radio Debut on WCSP". The Washington Post.
  3. ^ "Evolution of Call-ins on C-SPAN". c-span.org. C-SPAN. Retrieved 28 October 2010.
  4. ^ "BBC Parliament Goes Live On Digital Satellite". M2 Presswire. 25 November 1998.
  5. ^ Aaron Blake (29 June 2006). "C-SPAN increases its campaign coverage". The Hill.
  6. ^ a b c Dave Walker (21 August 2006). "17th Street 'Journal'; C-SPAN comes to town for Katrina anniversary special". Times-Picayune.
  7. ^ "About C-SPAN's Call-in Program". C-SPAN. Retrieved 24 October 2010.
  8. ^ Dan Fesperman (5 March 2001). "A C-SPAN kind of man". The Baltimore Sun.
  9. ^ Ben Miller, Greta Wodele Brawner (26 October 2010). College Debt (Television). Washington, D.C.: C-SPAN. Event occurs at 34:59. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  10. ^ Michael Rust (9 February 1998). "Americans Speak Up on Talk TV". Insight on the News.
  11. ^ Patrick Gavin (19 November 2010). "Remillard New C-SPAN EP". Politico. Retrieved 25 October 2010.
  12. ^ Paul Bedard (22 June 2010). "Brian Lamb: C-SPAN Now Reaches 100 Million Homes". Washington Whispers. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  13. ^ "Open Phones: Terrorist Attacks in U.S." C-SPAN. 12 September 2001. Retrieved 24 October 2010.
  14. ^ a b Jeff Dufour (15 June 2006). "Cher : From rave fave to soldiers' savior". The Hill.
  15. ^ "Cher waits turn on C-SPAN call to air views on wounded troops". The Washington Times. 27 October 2003. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  16. ^ Betsy Rothstein (2 November 2010). "Cher Admits Obsession with C-SPAN". MediaBistro. WebMediaBrands. Retrieved 5 November 2010.

External links[edit]