Show is over for Schaefer Radio: Ex-politician's walk on the mild side killed his WCBM show.

June 05, 1996|By Michael Ollove | Michael Ollove,SUN STAFF

William Donald Schaefer, former mayor and governor.

Provocative? Definitely.

Controversial? Often.

Ill-tempered? You betcha.

William Donald Schaefer, radio talk-show host.

Boring.

At least that's what the Powers-That-Be at radio station WCBM thought of the Power-That-Was at City Hall and the statehouse when they took away his drive-time slot.

Since late last year, Schaefer's talk show aired Thursday afternoons between 5 and 7. But, Sean Casey, WCBM's director of programming, said the station decided to give the first hour of Schaefer's time slot to Bob Kwesell, whose show runs from 3 to 6 p.m. every other weekday.

Casey said WCBM wanted to either push Schaefer's show back an hour or just make it an hour long. Instead, Casey said, Schaefer decided to give up the show altogether, although he announced to listeners last Thursday that the station was yanking him off the air.

"That was not entirely accurate," Casey said. Schaefer could not be reached for comment yesterday.

It is the second time since leaving public office in January 1995 that Schaefer has fallen silent on Baltimore's airwaves. Last year, WJZ-TV dropped the former governor's twice-weekly commentary when he made noises about running for mayor again. He now makes occasional appearances on the television station.

In Schaefer's defense, Casey said, it is hard to develop a radio following for a show that only airs once a week. Still, Casey acknowledged, asking Schaefer to give up the coveted 5 p.m.-to-6 p.m. slot on WCBM was not exactly a vote of confidence. Casey said Schaefer's ratings were "disappointing" and that the determinedly mild man he put on the air was a far cry from the firebrand he had expected.

Who could blame Casey? After all, Schaefer was a politician who would tell reporters, "I hate your guts," who once called a councilman a "dumb bastard," who wrote one critical constituent, "Your action only exceeds the ugliness of your face."

That was the volatility Casey thought he had snagged for WCBM. Instead, week after week he turned on the radio to find little Schaefer Sunshine. Casey said listeners were not stimulated.

"The Don Schaefer that was in office that would visit people and write letters and call the Eastern Shore an outhouse never materialized on afternoon drive time," said Casey.

"That would have been better for his program."

Pub Date: 6/05/96

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