Frank Radochonski (right), a sophomore in hospitality and tourism management, squares off against Matt Garofalo, a sophomore in management. (Photo by Mark Simons)
The hosts and producers of today's vitriolic political talk shows could learn something from Purdue sophomores Frank Radochonski and Matt Garofalo.
As freshmen living on the same floor in Cary Quadrangle, Radochonski, a conservative, and Garofalo, a liberal, took their partisan debates public by creating "The Boiler Room," a political talk show broadcast on WCCR, the residence hall's longtime radio station. Unlike many pundits from opposing parties, however, the friendly co-hosts actually talk instead of yell.
Radochonski, a hospitality and tourism management major from Chicago, and Garofalo, a finance major from Louisville, often have different perspectives, but they share the goal of creating a bipartisan dialogue on campus.
Topics for the Sunday night show, which debuted in January and is currently on hiatus, have ranged from taxes and the economy to gun control and media ethics, among others.
Guest commentators have included both the former and current presidents of Purdue Student Government, as well as Mike Young, a fellow Cary Quad resident who was one of the students involved in the "This is Engineering" YouTube video that featured a cameo by Purdue President Mitch Daniels. "It [the video] created controversy in some media outlets and a lot of comments from viewers, but our consensus was that the critics had taken it out of context," Radochonski says.
Still, that doesn't always extend to other subjects. "The discussions can get heated, but we try to keep it relevant to college students," he says. "Matt and I couldn't be more opposite on the economy, for example, but we actually agree on a lot of social issues."
The duo's broadcasting experience also has been agreeable to their coursework. "Our organizational and communication skills improved with each show, and that's carried over to our studies," Radochonski says. "I took a course in international politics this semester, and it was a big help in class discussions."
Radochonski began talking politics early, particularly with his father, who owns a chain of casual dining restaurants in the Chicago area. "He works hard and takes a lot of pride in what he does, so I try to take after him," he says.
He also hopes to follow his father's career path. "I love to cook and eventually want to be a restaurateur, but in the short term I'm anxious to learn everything I can about the hospitality industry," Radochonski says.
A six-month sponsored internship this summer and fall with the Shangri-La Hotel chain in China that combines study abroad and professional training with cultural immersion could bolster those lessons. Meanwhile, Garofalo completed a summer study abroad program in Spain before resuming classes in August.
Radochonski hopes to take advantage of his growing international expertise to continue his ongoing debates with Garofalo and resume broadcasting the show when he returns to campus in January 2014.
"I'm sure we'll both gain new perspectives, but I'll be abroad longer, so that should give me an edge," Radochonski says with a wink to his co-host. "We'll certainly try to keep it interesting."