It's A Joy To Watch Schaefer On Radio

November 24, 1991|By James M. Coram Michael James

Radio works better when you create pictures in your head rather thansee a live broadcast. Still, the prospect of watching Gov. William Donald Schaefer do his weekly call-in radio show from an office in theHoward County government complex last Thursday seemed irresistible.

Schaefer's staccato delivery, punctuated by repeated refrains, hiscombativeness, his gift for self-parody, his facial contortions whenseeking the right answer can be thoroughly entertaining.

A network television crew was there, along with a still photographer, a radio engineer and one of the governor's aides.

At 3:21 p.m., the governor entered in shirt-sleeves. He was wearing glasses -- something he hardly ever does in public -- and carrying a coffee cup that read "Applause, Applause." The cup was filled with hot water because the governor does not drink black coffee any more, an aide said.

Soon, Schaefer adjusted the microphone to his mouth. It was show time.

"Hi, Ron, there's good news today out in Ellicott City," he said. "Good news for us, good news for the state, good news for HowardCounty." He was talking about a Fortune 500 company choosing to comehere. The economic climate and the work force in the state are very good, Schaefer said, adding, "The red tape was cut away very quickly"by state and local government.

After talking to Dorothy, a nurse,Schaefer took his headset off and began shaking his head sadly. Dorothy had told him about a 13-year-old in a detention center who has a 6-month-old baby, is pregnant again, and comes from a drug-addicted family. What can the state can do about it? Dorothy wanted to know. Schaefer gave her a name and a phone number. He seemed genuinely concerned.

No tantrums, no heated exchanges, no real drama like you see on television. The network crew asked Schaefer for a couple minutes. He took off his glasses, put on his suit coat, and went outside, where he was photographed against a rolling hillside.

Watching him on radio seemed more real.


CAPTION: Gov. William Donald Schaefer talks with a caller during his weekly radio show, broadcast live from an office in the county government complex.


Thursday's celebration of Ford Motor Credit Co.'s decision to locate a new office facility in Columbia had an awkward moment in which Gov. William Donald Schaefer -- like everyone else -- found himself puzzled over art.

Ford executive Jerry L. Heimlicherwas presented with gifts from county officials at the press conference in the George Howard building, including a Howard County flag and a pictorial history book of Howard County.

State officials, not tobe outdone, presented Heimlicher with a classy plaque that featured a velvet-like background with two large white imprints that bore pictures of -- hmmmm?

No one in the audience seemed to know what the image was. Finally, after about 10 seconds of silence, Schaefer piped up and asked the question that seemed to be on everyone's mind: "Whatis that, anyway?"

Amid a roomful of laughter, someone from the state government entourage quickly retorted, "Why, that's the great seal of Maryland."

"Oh," said the governor, looking somewhat surprised.

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