O'Malley catches radio wave

In Brief

February 19, 2002|By David Folkenflik

Mayor Martin O'Malley is scheduled to appear today on WBAL-AM in the first installment of a regular radio show.

The show, to be aired every other Tuesday at 11 a.m., will allow listeners to call in with questions or comments for the mayor. News reader Bill Vanko will field the calls, but he is not the show's host, according to Mark S. Miller, news director for WBAL (1090 AM).

"There will be no screening of callers," Miller promised. "These guys do have, for some folks, a mystique. This does give people some access to their leaders."

Miller said he approached Michael Enright, the mayor's chief of staff, about the show in February 2000, less than two months after O'Malley took office. But the mayor asked for time to settle into his job.

O'Malley is far from shy when it comes to the world of the media, and he has been featured on national television programs, including Nightline and on CNN.

Now, O'Malley has committed himself to a bi-weekly program. City Hall spokesman Rick Binetti said the show is "a platform for the mayor to talk about initiatives and city policy and whatever message he wants to get across for the week." Callers left with questions about city services could leave their names and phone numbers. The mayor's office has promised that residents would receive follow-up calls to address their concerns.

Former Mayors William Donald Schaefer and Kurt L. Schmoke each had a similar show on WBAL radio when they held the office. Schaefer held court at the diner used to train troubled youths a few blocks north of City Hall, and he continued the show after he became governor.

Schmoke continued the show into his second term, recording it on weekends. He eventually stopped participating, however, citing the need to spend more free time with his family.

The station encourages calls from outside city limits as well as from Baltimore, Miller said. "That's a positive, in that it shows that the city is still an economic hub for the region," he said.

As WBAL has a strong signal, the show would also provide O'Malley with greater exposure to listeners in other parts of the state as he weighs a run for governor.

O'Malley would have to surrender the show if he were formally to announce his intention to seek election as governor.

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