Five radio commentators (picked by CJJ for their broadcast experience, audience reach, and popularity) know who pays for the microphone.

When a radio opinion maker takes a stand on an issue, castigates an erring public official, or praises him to the heavens, he considers the payor, his “boss.”

Not the station manager or owner, although the radio commentator needs to obey station and broadcast rules, but the public.

Remember what Ronald Reagan, in a debate during the 1980 New Hampshire primary, said when the host ordered the soundman to cut off Reagan’s microphone? He shouted, “I am paying for this microphone, Mr. (Breen)!”

It turned out that Reagan’s campaign did pick up the tab for the debate. And he claimed his right with honest vigor, which virtually won him the presidency.

Unique impact

One broadcaster noted once that despite all the technical improvements, “it still boils down to a person and a microphone, playing music, sharing stories, talking about issues, communicating with an audience.”

The radio commentator has a unique impact on his audience, the sort that the print journalist finds tough to duplicate. It’s awesome power that those with selfish or ignoble interests would wish to influence or control. They try to pay for the microphone, or, failing that, find other ways to silence or subvert it.

These radio commentators, Cebu heavyweights in the business, must know that, or they wouldn’t still be riding high now. Pachico A. Seares

Ruphil Bañoc, 35, dyHP

The anchorperson of radio dyHP program “Straight to the Point” has had 13 years of broadcasting experience. After graduating from the Visayas State University in Baybay, Leyte with a degree in BS Development Communication major in Broadcasting, he started his career in dyMF Bombo Radyo in 1998 as reporter and commentator. Today, he is also newscaster of TV5’s “Aksyon Bisaya.”

“Ang importante sa usa ka commentator kay credibility. Maminaw nimo ang mga tawo nga naay makuha.” (What is important is for a commentator to have credibility. Listeners learn something from you.)

Pablito “Bobby” Nalzaro, 48, dySS

The host of “Bobby Nalzaro on Board Saksi-Morning Edition” over dySS has been in broadcast media for 31 years. While a college freshman, he worked for radio dxRC in 1980, becoming an anchor and commentator of a morning radio program after three months. He also reported for a local daily. He clinched a Mass Communication degree from Ateneo de Zamboanga in 1985. He moved to radio dyMF Bombo Radyo in1987, handled an evening commentary program one month later, then transferred to GMA 7 in 1997.

“There are issues where I’m biased in favor of something because I have to make a stand. I try to be the voice of the voiceless and defender of the oppressed. I get frustrated with government inaction.”

Cirse “Choy” Torralba, 60, dyRF

The host of radio dyRF program “Tug-ani’ng Lungsod” has his uncle Geronimo “Boy” Creer Jr. to thank for his broadcasting career, which has spanned 30 years. Creer convinced this 1977 business administration graduate from the University of Southern Philippines to try radio work. From the morning commentary program he handled in radio dyLA in 1981, Torralba moved to an evening program of the now defunct radio dyFX. He moved to radio dyAR in 1994, returned to dyLA in 2005, then found home in dyRF two years later.

“In the Philippines, it is expected (for commentators) to be hard-hitting. You should be credible, not necessarily biased. Just know your facts.”

Leo Lastimosa, 47, dyAB

On “Arangkada Uban ni Leo Lastimosa,” dyAB Abante Bisaya’s flagship program, he makes his radio commentaries that have made mincemeat of many a public figure. He began his 27-year career in broadcasting as a campus reporter for dyLA-AM. He became news director of dyLA in 1985 and then dyRF of the Catholic Media Network in 1991. At the ABS-CBN Regional Network, he anchored “Banat Visayas, Sulong Mindanao!”

“I cannot be silenced. I will continue with my work to seek the truth.”

Ike Durano III, 31, dyRF

Before he chalked up 10 years of broadcasting experience, the anchorperson of radio dyRF program “Alagad” was a field reporter for radio dyMF Bombo Radyo in June 2000. He handled an evening commentary program in 2001, his political science degree from the University of San Carlos coming in handy also when he handled a primetime morning commentary program in dyMF in 2002. He believes a commentator must have a basis for his opinions before airing them, and that it is a commentator’s responsibility to help listeners arrive at intelligent decisions on social issues.

“You don’t have to use foul language to become a hard-hitting commentator. It’s enough you tell the truth.”