Sauerbrey gets radio talk show

January 27, 1995|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Sun Staff Writer

Ellen Sauerbrey, whose bid to be Maryland governor fell short at the polls and in the courts, is getting a new forum: a nightly radio talk show in which she intends "to continue to voice the things that concern me."

The former candidate will preside over a telephone call-in program on WBAL-AM (1090) from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. weeknights, beginning Feb. 13, the station announced yesterday. The Republican's show will continue until the beginning of the Major League Baseball season in April, when the station starts broadcasting Baltimore Orioles games.

The move will result in several programming changes, including the shift of "The Ron Smith Show" back to afternoons and the elimination of WBAL's two-hour afternoon news program.

"I don't know if I'm going to be any good at this," Mrs. Sauerbrey said yesterday, adding that the show "will be a great opportunity for me to stay actively involved in issues."

Jeff Beauchamp, vice president and station manager of WBAL Radio, announced the addition of Mrs. Sauerbrey at an annual employee luncheon meeting yesterday.

Interest in Mrs. Sauerbrey sprang from the station's desire to return Mr. Smith's talk show to an afternoon time slot, Mr. Beauchamp said.

Mr. Smith's popular show moved to nights a year ago when WBAL added Rush Limbaugh's nationally syndicated show. Although Mr. Smith scored good ratings at night, the station wanted to move him back to days, when the audience is significantly higher, Mr. Beauchamp said.

So, effective Feb. 13, the following scheduling changes will occur: "The Alan Prell Show" will lose an hour, running from 9 a.m. to noon; "The Rush Limbaugh Show" will begin an hour earlier, airing live from noon to 3 p.m.; and "Ron Smith" will be heard from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. "Sports Talk With Josh Lewin" will continue from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

"I suppose I'd like to welcome WBAL to the other side of the political spectrum. I guess they've finally realized that's where 00 the majority of the talk show listeners are," said Sean Casey, general manager of WCBM-AM (680), which has long had a lineup of politically conservative hosts and was the first local station to carry Mr. Limbaugh's show.

Mrs. Sauerbrey, in fact, has already been heard on WCBM as a talk show host. She filled in twice for evening host Zoh Heironimus, once in November and once in December.

WBAL is aware that adding another political conservative further shifts the station's programming to the right. "I'd say it [the daily lineup] is conservative . . . but hopefully, the callers will provide balance," Mr. Beauchamp said. "We want to encourage callers who disagree. They won't be cut off at the knees."

The moves also mean the demise of "The WBAL News Journal," currently heard from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Mr. Beauchamp said no news staff members are losing jobs. Newscasts on the hour and half-hour will continue to be heard, along with the same number of traffic and weather reports.

"We're still the only news game in town," said Mr. Smith, who acknowledged he is delighted to take an afternoon drive-time slot, "the second-most-listened-to portion of the day."

Mr. Beauchamp said the station decided to move Mr. Smith to afternoons and eliminate the "News Journal" before asking Mrs. Sauerbrey aboard.

Mrs. Sauerbrey said the station asked her to consider a show shortly after the November election, which she lost to Democrat Parris N. Glendening by less than 6,000 votes.

"I said I can only think of one thing at a time," Mrs. Sauerbrey recalled, referring to her legal challenge to the election, which was rejected earlier this month in Anne Arundel Circuit Court.

"It's kind of an experiment for Ellen and for us," said Mr. Beauchamp, who added the program will be "a traditional issue-oriented talk show," not a partisan platform. "It won't be Ellen Sauerbrey bashing Parris Glendening."

"I have a very strong ideological point of view . . . not as a Republican but as a person who can address issues," said Mrs. Sauerbrey. She intends to pay attention not only to issues in Maryland, but to "front-burner" issues in Washington and on the international scene.

Mr. Beauchamp said the station has offered Mr. Glendening a PTC weekly, hour-long "Stateline" program on Saturday mornings. Throughout his term, former Gov. William Donald Schaefer appeared on such a program, heard at midday on Thursdays.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Glendening said yesterday the new governor would do the weekly program. She refused to comment about Mrs. Sauerbrey's program.

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