Sonny Haquani can't belly up to the bar and order a beer, but the UNM freshman can (and did) walk into a local Albuquerque TV station and launch a political talk show. He was 16-years-old at the time and required to do a public service project as a final for his homeschool program. Four years later, the project continues as a weekly talk show with Haquani in the role of producer.
Haquani was homeschooled for the majority of his early education. Fundamental academic subjects were taught by his mother, and philosophical subjects such as psychology, political science and critical thinking, were taught by his father. Three to four hour lectures typically took place over morning coffee.
“I had a unique education, for sure,” Haquani said. “I like to tell people that I essentially learned from the top down, instead of the bottom up. I learned advanced philosophical theories and skills such as conceptual reverse engineering before I learned algebra.”
When the time came for Haquani to choose a project for his final, he knew two things: it was going to involve politics, and it had to reach the greatest number of people possible, in the most substantive way. So he analyzed public perception of all types of media and determined that television was arguably the best suited for his purposes.
With help from his father, Haquani pitched the idea for a talk show to the project coordinator at UPublic TV. The studio had just won the contract for the public access network in Albuquerque and was transitioning into the role of a community television station.
"The premise of my show was clear from the start,” Haquani said. “I wanted to create a platform, completely absent political bias, where candidates of all affiliations could present themselves to constituents in a relaxed, one-on-one, no frills interview, kind of like the Charlie Rose show. And my intention was to serve the community by providing a neutral source of information on who might best represent them. The overwhelming response from the community after one season is why we decided to continue producing the show. It’s an act of public service."
Haquani believes that a major barrier for political candidates today is the expense associated with running for office. “Many qualified contenders can’t get the exposure they need because they just don't have the funds to compete with more moneyed candidates. Even though they may be better qualified and armed with more solutions, it's difficult to get elected when people don't know who you are. That’s what LNG [Local National Global] provides; the opportunity for voters to tune in and decide for themselves which candidate is aligned with their position and who they should ultimately vote for,” he said.
Haquani has been the producer of LNG, which airs weekly on UPublic TV, for nearly four years. His father is the show’s host. “I had interviewed dozens of applicants for the position of host and as it turned out, every one of them exhibited a political bias,” Haquani said. “And then it dawned on me, Why not ask the person I know to be incredibly fair and impartial…my father, the quintessential centrist.”
LNG has featured candidates and members from almost every branch of local, state and national government. The show airs every Sunday on channel 27 at 10 a.m.
Needless to say, Haquani is a political science major, minoring in international studies with a focus on international relations. He plans to get his Master’s degree in Constitutional law.