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Media partners come together to produce live Hawley-McCaskill debate

Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley and Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill
Jason Winkeler Photography

St. Louis Public Radio, 5 On Your Side, and Nine Network of Public Media partnered across broadcast mediums and formats to bring together the candidates from one of the most closely-watched political races in the country. The incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley took the stage to debate a variety of issues from healthcare to immigration policy.

The debate took place on Thursday, October 18 before a live audience of 100 Missourians at the Nine Network’s studio in St. Louis. NPR- and PBS-member stations and NBC affiliates throughout the state carried the live broadcast. Journalists from across the state and country reported from the debate. National and international media, including The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, Slate Magazine, and The Washington Post, covered the debate.


Mike Bush, Judy Woodruff, and Jo Mannies
Credit Jason Winkeler Photography
Mike Bush, Judy Woodruff, and Jo Mannies

The debate was moderated by PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, with prepared questions from 5 On Your Side reporter Mike Bush and St. Louis Public Radio political reporter Jo Mannies. Nine Network’s Ruth Ezell fielded questions from the audience.

“I was so impressed by the members of our diverse community who made up the studio audience,” said Ruth Ezell, Nine Network producer. “Their insightful questions reflected the broad range of issues that matter to Missouri voters. They also demonstrated how people with differing views can respectfully convene at a critical moment for the state and the nation.”

A public watch party was held in the Public Media Commons, between the Nine Network and St. Louis Public Radio, and was attended by approximately 250 people. 5 On Your Side’s Casey Nolen and St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum got real-time audience perspective and hosted a post-debate analysis show.

"We're proud to have worked with our partners at the Nine Network and 5 On Your Side,” said St. Louis Public Radio General Manager Tim Eby, “to provide an opportunity for Missourians to better understand where these two candidates stand on a variety of important issues. Our team at St. Louis Public Radio will continue to focus on providing in-depth coverage of the candidates and the issues over the next few weeks as we approach election day."

The candidates sparred over how they would improve healthcare, the federal budget deficit and more. Full context and analysis are available on our website. Nine Network rebroadcasted the debate and post-debate show at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 21.


Nine Network Studio Audience
Credit Jason Winkeler Photography
Nine Network Studio Audience

“Nine and our partners performed an important public service by bringing the Missouri Senate race to the citizens of Missouri, said Nine Network Senior Vice President of Engagement and Content Amy Shaw. “The questions from the audience in our studio let the candidates know what’s on the community’s mind.”

“Given the national attention of this particular senate race, it was our sincere privilege to help facilitate Missouri’s first public U.S. Senate debate for our community and our partners statewide,” said Alicia Elsner, President & General Manager of 5 On Your Side.

Learn more about how the debate came together.

Follow #MOSenateDebate for social media reactions.

Inform Your Vote by following ongoing election coverage from the St. Louis Public Radio politics team.