Episode 88, with guests Bob Wheelock of AJE – Al Jazeera English and George Gigicos of Telion Corp.

Bob Wheelock and George Gigicos are our guests this week.
Show produced by Katherine Caperton.
Original Air Date: February 3, 2013 on SiriusXM “POTUS” Channel 124.
Polioptics airs regularly on POTUS on Saturdays at 6 am, 12 noon and 6 pm.
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Show also available for download on Apple iTunes by clicking here 

Our guests this week Bob Wheelock, executive producer of news gathering at Al Jazeera English, on the changes ahead for the network following its acquisition of Current TV. And George Gigicos, founder and president of Telion Corp., on his work spanning decades as a GOP advance man.


If you’re a fan of this show, I hope you’ll leave us a note and a like our Facebook page www.facebook.com/PoliOptics.  It is one of my great joys in doing this show with Josh King, that I’m able to introduce all of you to the most amazing visual communications professionals I know.  Friends all, they have mentored me, managed me, and propelled me forward in my career here in Washington D.C.

Our first guest, Bob Wheelock, is currently the Executive Producer for  Newsgathering at Al Jazeera English.

Bob Wheelock in the control and on the air at ABC News .

What that means is, Bob is the big boss and at the helm of one of the most technologically advanced, well-funded, and growing news gathering organizations on the planet. Niice.

Bob also happens to be the guy that gave me my big break in TV News.  He was “that guy” for so many people. He still is today and that’s why we are so lucky to have him on the show this week.

“Wheels” or “Bobby,” as some people at ABC News used to call him, is literally building an army of talented visual story tellers (see: they’re hiring).  Seriously — if you or someone you know is a comer in the news game right now – Wheelock is the guy to know.

In February 2012, the guy who had done nearly ever big job you’d want to do and won a ton of major awards, found his “next big thing” and took on the leadershipchallengeof a lifetime. 

This is Bob’s first extended conversation on the air about AJE.

He is, as ever, eloquent and perfectly candid.


Our second guest, George Gigicos, is veteran political operative with a sterling reputation.

He only has one speed: go!

George is the engine in the boat at the strategic communications and event firm Telion Corp, based in southern Florida.  He’s been a GOP Advance man since the days George H W Bush was VPOTUS.  His experiences on behalf of the US government around the globe are a fun part of this discussion. So to are his insights into his most recent time on the road working advance for the Romney campaign.

Here are some fun pics from George’s time in the business — including one with me in Egypt in 2008.

The mark of a true PoliOptics practitioner – George Gigicos.













George’s work as site lead for Mitt Romney’s visit to Warsaw University in Poland – summer 2012



George’s work in Warsaw, Poland in the summer of 2012 with the Romney campaign.



Adam Belmar and George Gigicos in Egypt 2008



















About TELION:  a comprehensive public relations, media affairs and event management consulting firm offering clients a wide range of support services.  Telion partners with corporations, associations, government, political and religious entities to successfully assist in the management of their meetings, conferences, incentive programs and special events. Their expertise in communication strategies, crisis management, digital media, VIP advance operations & logistical support is unsurpassed.  George Gigicos, TelionCorp, Boca Raton, Florida 33231, 561-400-3604.

I know you will enjoy these two conversations… And when you do –drop us a few words on FB www.facebook.com/PoliOptics.

Thanks, AB

Episode 7, with guest Mark Katz of the Soundbite Institute

Mark Katz is our interview guest this week.
Show produced by Katherine Caperton
Original Air Date: April 23, 2011 on SiriusXM Satellite Radio “POTUS” Channel 124.  Click above to listen.

It’s one of the hardest speeches to give every year: the President of the United States, a job for which humor is “important but not essential,” must nontheless do stand up in front of 3,000 potential critics that comprise the White House Correspondents Association members, news organizations and their guests at their annual dinner.  The dinner, held as always at the Washington Hilton, took place on Saturday, April 30.  President Obama used the bulk of his remarks to target Donald Trump, and Saturday Night Live’s Seth Meyers weighed in with more broadsides against Trump in his routine.

In the week prior to the annual event, in this episode of Polioptics on XM Sirius Satellite Radio, we talked with Mark Katz of the Soundbite Insitute who, many times during the Clinton years, was on point for the suprisingly complex process of assmbling a funny speech.

Here are my two notes of advice for future guest speakers at the WHCA Dinner as someone who has watched almost every one of them going back to 1994, either in person or on television:

  • First, if you must use the Presidential “Blue Goose” lectern, and you’re more than 5’11” tall, don’t use the built-in step.  The step invariably brings the speakers mouth too far away from the microphones and makes it difficult to project into the room.
  • Second: if your trade is stand-up comedy, play your trade as you’ve been trained, with a hand-held microphone.  Your voice will project far better, you’ll be able to pace the stage, as stand-ups do, and hand gestures and timing will be far better.

In summary: don’t let the WHCA organizers strap you down to the podium just because “that’s the way it’s always be done.”  Liberate yourself from the Blue Goose, and give a better performance.

During my days at the White House, Mark Katz would become a fixture in the West Wing in the early part of the year, working with various staff members to craft a trilogy of humorous speeches for the Alfalfa Club, the then-named Radio and TV Correspondents Association Dinner and the granddaddy of them all, the White House Correspondents Association Dinner.

During the course of a four-year or eight-year presidency, the White House staff typically tries to one-up itself in complexity each year.  In his last appearance at the WHCA Dinner in 2000, President Clinton, working with Katz and others, offered up what may well be remembered as an Oscar-winning performance (certainly one which Kevin Spacey thought Oscar-worthy).


Some Presidents pull this off better than others.  In our conversation with Mark Katz, he lays out the unique challenges of making the President a funny guy.