I confess to the senior management here at WBEZ: I didn't listen to Morning Edition this morning. I, instead, tuned to the Big 89 to listen to former Governor Blagojevich.‚ Once I got through commercials for low water pressure and multi-vitamins, an old familiar voice (John Dempsey) took us into the Governor. It wasn't as much of a radio show as a radio speech. He took a few calls but most of the calls were of the "you got hosed" variety.
As a radio show, it wasn't satisfying. But as a former Governor talking about the ills of Springfield it was riveting. But it seems to me that the show would be much more compelling if they had a co-host who called him out or pushed him off his soapbox. Let's face it: Blago has a story to tell. It may not be one that you want to hear, but it is always fascinating when someone is pulled out of their world and then tells us about the inner-workings. It's what movies are made of. So the content is there. But it seems to me that the Blagojevich radio show would be well-served to have a strong co-host who leads or challenges the former governor. Because most of the stories are one-sided and potentially could be fabricated. You need hosts to check each other.
The initiated and connected news listener probably wasn't moved by the stories of how Mike Madigan runs things with a conflict of interest or why Governor Quinn is raising the income tax, but I do think that this Illinois government story was eye-opening. Will it cause a stir or will people consider the source? The one thing I took away from the speech was Blagojevich's explanation of the "double-dipper". This is a state representative who takes their salary for representing in Springfield but also has full time jobs in other city/county governments. So at least that tidbit is worthwhile and much better than banter about Dancing with the Stars
The actual format of the show was very stale. This is the inherent problem of AM radio. The format is so calculated that it is hard to get comfortable. Dempsey does a great job with the news and they have veteran Wendy Snyder doing weather/traffic. But when you throw in the promos and the commercials, it really does disrupt the flow. But that's more of a knock on AM radio than WLS.
As far as WLS, this was a very strong business move. It is what radio does best - talks to the community. And the community came together to listen to this story. But you have to wonder...does WLS care about making Rod Blagojevich a compelling listen? Or are they just in it for the short-term ratings boon?
I can't wait to hear Sean Hannity tonight! I think I'm hooked on the big 89. Sorry Torey, they win for today.