Ehrlichs will host WBAL Radio show

Saturday program of events affecting the state

March 15, 2007|By Nick Madigan | Nick Madigan,Sun Reporter

Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and his wife, Kendel, will host their own two-hour show Saturdays on Baltimore's WBAL-AM 1090, starting March 31.

The hiring of the former first couple is a coup for WBAL, which muscled aside competing interest in the Ehrlichs from two other stations, WCBM-AM 680 and WHFS-FM 105.7. As governor, Ehrlich was a frequent guest on WBAL, where he sometimes broke news.

"Bob has always appeared on our station," Jeff Beauchamp, vice president and station manager of WBAL Radio, said yesterday. "He's had good rapport with the callers and our listeners. He enjoys it."

FOR THE RECORD - An article in the Today section yesterday misidentified a host on WBAL-AM 1090. His name is Bruce Elliott.
The Sun regrets the error.

The station sees Ehrlich as a good draw. "Here's a guy who, despite his loss in the last election, left office with a 63 percent approval rating," Beauchamp said.

Their show will run at 9 a.m. Saturdays, according to a WBAL announcement, which said the Ehrlichs wold "bring their perspective to the stories, events and issues impacting Marylanders," and that they "promise to let you hear from, and talk to, some of the biggest names on today's political scene."

Bob Elliott's four-hour Saturday show is being moved to 5 a.m. to accommodate the Ehrlichs.

The news that Ehrlich - a Republican who was defeated last fall in his bid for a second term as governor - had signed with a competing station came as a surprise yesterday to Bob Pettit, WCBM's general manager.

"Shoot. That dog," Pettit exclaimed when told of the deal. "I really thought we were going to be working with him."

Pettit, program director Sean Casey and WCBM host Tom Marr each spoke with Ehrlich in recent weeks about his joining the station as a co-host once a week on Marr's show and as a substitute host during Marr's absences, Pettit said. The former governor and his wife were guest hosts for Marr's three-hour morning show on Jan. 24.

Pettit said WCBM probably had lost in the bidding for the Ehrlichs because it was not able to offer them a slot on weekends, as all the station's weekend programming is "brokered," a term for paid programming over which the station has no control. (Ehrlich joined a law firm last month, which could mean his weekdays are spoken for. He did not return a call yesterday for comment.)

Another possible reason, Pettit said, is that WCBM "is a little more right-wing" than WBAL.

Ehrlich "always expressed a fear of getting too close to us, the way some people feel about Fox News," said Pettit, whose station broadcasts shows by such conservative hosts as Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh.

Similar voices pervade the airwaves at WBAL, where Limbaugh once reigned and where hosts such as Chip Franklin and Ron Smith have often had Ehrlich as a guest. The 50,000-watt station, which is owned by the Hearst Corp., reaches much of Maryland.

The Ehrlichs' new contract specifies that their services as talk-show hosts are exclusive to WBAL. However, Beauchamp said, they would be permitted to comment informally on breaking news events if another radio or television station "puts a mike in front of them."

The station announced also that former state Sen. Clarence Mitchell IV, a regular co-host on Franklin's show, will get a three-hour slot weeknights at 9 p.m., while Sun sports columnist Peter Schmuck, who hosts his own show on Saturdays, will also have a Sunday show before Orioles' games starting in April. Beauchamp said also that Sun columnist Dan Rodricks, who has been co-hosting with Chip Franklin on Tuesdays and Thursdays, had declined an offer for his own show; his last day on the air is today.

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