The 2024 Presidential Debates: two candidates stand on a stage in front of 20 cameras broadcasting to the nation. No podiums shield them from the audience, and the moderator-referee stands ready for the first mic toss. At the sound of the bell, the Toss-a-Mic flies through the air. Both candidates leap for it, but the Democratic candidate snags it first. She knows she only has 60 seconds to deliver her opening remarks before she must toss the microphone to the Republican candidate. The debate will include no fewer than 20 tosses, and her palms are already sweaty. She is ready to begin.
The Toss-a-Mic is a soft, cordless microphone designed to be gently thrown between speakers during staged debates or news segments. Sharing a mic this way eliminates speakers’ ability to interrupt each other and provides another layer of entertainment to televised media, aiming to move from what you see below on the left to more like what you see one the right.
Currently, networks love it when debaters interrupt each other with snappy one-liners — it gives the debate more of the excitement of a sporting match and makes it more sharable through social media. However, this sort of rhetoric is not helping us as Americans learn how to engage thoughtfully and constructively with each other. This problem has permeated into our daily lives. The Toss-a-Mic seeks to make debates—an important format for political communication—civil again, while recognizing that entertainment is an important element for television networks to maintain viewership.
Toss-a-mic was one of my initial concepts from the first round of ideation, shown in the small sketch above. I created the quick-and dirty-prototype using scrap materials from around the studio, and have been pleasantly surprised with the depth of feedback and intrigue it has generated. However, I plan to refine it further and shoot a new video with it in the spring.