The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

22 January 2009

Chicago Talk Station Wants To Hire Blago


WLS: Resign And We'll Give You A Show

Would embattled Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich give up his current job for a weekend radio gig? Chicago's WLS-AM has decided there's only one way to find out: ask him directly.

In exchange for resigning over the senate seat sale scandal that has revealed the ugly nature of the state's Democratic Party machine, WLS management has promised him a Sunday afternoon slot from noon - 2pm to talk about whatever he wishes. From the AP (via the station's website):

CHICAGO (AP) -- A Chicago radio station is offering embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich a new job.

During a show early Thursday, the program director at WLS-AM announced that if Blagojevich resigns, the station will offer him his own weekly radio program from noon to 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Program director Bob Shomper said the station is asking the governor to spare the state the embarrassment and expense of forcibly removing him from office.

Blagojevich has been impeached by the state House and faces an impeachment trial in the Senate starting Monday that could end with his removal.

Shomper says the station's offer reflects the will of the people, who he says want the governor gone.

Messages left for the governor's spokesman were not immediately returned Thursday.

Though the station hasn't yet received an answer, it's likely to get one tomorrow morning, as WLS morning hosts Don Wade & Roma get the opportunity to interview Blago directly.

But is this a good idea? At our regional New England media site, we've long railed against Boston's WRKO for hiring convicted felon Tom Finneran, a former Democratic House Speaker in Massachusetts. That controversy continues to this day, particularly because his show is awful, ratings are miniscule and the entire newsroom was sacked in order to cover his enormous salary.

And in Providence, former Mayor Buddy Cianci, also a convicted felon and liberal brought down in a corruption scandal, has been boring listeners to death at Rhode Island's WPRO-AM since last year.

What's interesting is just how dull these wildly corrupt Dems can sound once they're behind a microphone. This may be why WLS is offering just two hours on Sunday, rather than a fulltime weekday gig.

At Stopset, one industry insider offers this take:

WLS-AM/Chicago, a once respectable and great sounding station, offers Blago an airshift if he’ll resign as gov of IL. WRKO in Boston lets a former politician take over morning drive. An FM music station in L.A. puts a comedian in drive time.

What do those stations have in common? Short term thinking. Go for a big name with no radio experience and hope the initial wave of publcity brings ratings and revenue. It seldom ever does.

Shame on the owners and their station puppets. They crapshoot on “names” because they drained the talent pool. A guy or gal who would’ve moved into morning drive from afternoons, nights or even overnights–after dues paying–doesn’t exist anymore, replaced by syndication.

And thanks, owners, for failing to experiment and/or develop talent on the weekends. You’ve decided to fill Saturdays and Sundays with what Monday-Friday cume really wants to hear–hour after hour of infomercials hosted by snakeoil salesmen, or brokered (meaning paid for) programming hosted by the somnolent local insurance agency owner or the mortgage broker. Now THAT’s great programming! How long before they buy their way into drive times to replace the big names that bombed?

Where WRKO and WPRO were crazy enough to actually believe their felons could generate drivetime ratings, the move by WLS is really more of a low-risk stunt. In the unlikely (??) event that Blago actually took the job, it would create a publicity windfall for the station without risking its weekday lineup.

And if he stinks on the air, who's going to notice on a Sunday afternoon?

Nonetheless, the idea that talk radio should be a dumping ground for Democratic Party criminals is disturbing and shouldn't be condoned by anyone.

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site.

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  • WLS must be desperate for ratings. If this happens, I predict initial ratings would be rather high but would drop off drastically within days as Blogo is shown he is unable to effectivelly host a daily talk show. It's harder than it seems. I should know. I hosted a couple of radio talk shows myself in the 90's. Fortunately my ratings were quite high but unfortunately the station was sold to "The Borg" (a.k.a. -- Clear Channel) and at the time they wanted the station to go all satellite sports. I moved on and did well for myself in the publishing field and also in television.

    By Blogger Carl, at 22 January, 2009 19:43  

  • Actually, Cianci originally ran as a Republican when he 1st won and then became an Independant. Good to see the accurancy of your find websites continue.

    Think someones a bit jealous that these guys can get work in radio while someone else can't?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 January, 2009 22:16  

  • Cianci's been aligned with the liberal Democrat establishment for many years, even if he didn't officially belong to the party.

    Nonetheless, I've removed it from the post.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 22 January, 2009 23:24  

  • If the Fairness Doctrine is implemented, will these stations have to hire conservative jailbirds for balance? (Snicker)

    By Blogger Chromium, at 23 January, 2009 13:33  

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