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Radio show seeks middle ground

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By Lora-Marie Bernard

A new local radio show wants to bridge communication bridges with Galveston County residents.
Meet in the Middle, a fledgling talk show, began on KGBC 1540-AM within the past month. Show hosts Sam Collins of Hitchcock and Norm Pappous of Galveston have been booking local community residents and leaders to discuss topics of interest.
Their interviews focus on national news, local trends and political topics in an effort to create dialogue. Past interviews include District Judge Lonnie Cox and County Judge Mark Henry in separate shows.  “I lean right and he leans left but we get along,” said Pappous, a former Galveston city council member.  “So we meet in the middle and that’s what we are trying push in the public. We don’t have to agree but we don’t have to hate each other over it.”
Tapings are recorded because the hosts said they didn’t want to get up for the 8 a.m. Saturday time slot and didn’t want to ask the guests to do it either. Instead, the shows are taped at the KGBC studio, 2504 Post Office, on the island during the afternoons.  The show has a Facebook page “Meet in the Middle” and will soon have a website to keep discussions going. They hope to have podcasts of the show available as the show grows.
On a recent afternoon, Collins led a discussion about Black Lives Matter and the national tension with police enforcement. La Marque police chief Kirk Jackson and Hitchcock police chief John Hamm were guests.
Collins, who is black, discussed his first encounter with Hamm, who stopped him after he saw an unusual car coming from Collin’s property. It was a car that Hamm had not seen before, Collins said.
“I had just bought the property and was in another truck he knew was normally there,” Collins said.
The two discussed the way the encountered occurred during at about 1:30 a.m. at night. Collins said he was respectful to Hamm and Hamm said he used “the seven points” of discussion a law officer should use when speaking to someone. In the end Hamm said, “There was no reason for me to escalate the situation.” Collins said he knew he’d done nothing to be stopped but he knew that “coming at” Hamm another way could have “made that an entirely different encounter.” They each say they are now friends and admire the way their relationship has developed over the years.
Localizing national topics such as police relations helps to diffuse the tensions that brew in the country, Pappous said after the show taping.
“When you hear the other side in a respectful way you see things different,” he said.

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