Recalling The Recall

We normally don’t dip into politics here at your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), but this one directly involves the media.

Today, the Ohio Supreme Court voted to pull the effort to recall controversial Toledo mayor Carty Finkbeiner off the November 3rd ballot…in a narrow decision. From an article posted this afternoon on the Toledo Blade website:

The all-Republican high court, by a 4-3 vote, came to the defense of the Democratic mayor in finding that the deadline of two months before the election for the printing of absentee ballots did not provide Mr. Finkbeiner adequate time to challenge recall petitions filed by a group calling itself Take Back Toledo.

That’s where we come in, as a blog covering Ohio media outlets.

(And we haven’t checked his drivers’ license, but we’re not altogether sure that the Toledo mayor’s full legal name is The Controversial Carleton S. Finkbeiner.)

The local news media in the Akron area played its mostly usual role in the breathtakingly unsuccessful recall effort against that city’s mayor, Don Plusquellic, in June. The long-time King of Akron kept his job by something like a million to three margin. OK, not by that much, but not that far off, it seems.

In Akron, the media played a mostly secondary role. Recall supporters occasionally invoked “pro-mayoral coverage” by the Akron Beacon Journal. The newspaper, and Rubber City Radio news/oldies WAKR/1590, devoted a lot of straight-ahead news coverage to the effort.

The Cleveland-based TV news operations mostly stayed on the sidelines, give or take occasional coverage by WKYC/3 anchor/reporter Eric Mansfield…an Akron resident who still watches over his hometown, news-wise, though he’s now based at WKYC’s Cleveland newsroom as co-anchor of the station’s 7 PM weeknight newscast.

And the recall provided lively discussion on Western Reserve PBS’ “NewsNight Akron”, a weekly news roundtable that is still hosted by Mansfield from studio space shared with his primary employer in downtown Akron.

In Akron, recall politics and media had its closest relationship on the Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 evening talk show hosted by Tom Erickson. Erickson’s daughter, “Heaven Can Wait” animal shelter director and now-Akron city council at large candidate Heather Nagel, was a strong recall supporter, and was part of the group putting that unsuccessful effort on the ballot back in June.

But even Erickson’s show on “The Talk of Akron” wasn’t actually running the recall effort in Akron.

In Toledo, one media outlet has been a key player in forming and operating the “Take Back Toledo” effort.

Clear Channel/Toledo market manager Andy Stuart and Clear Channel talk WSPD/1370 program director/afternoon host Brian Wilson are directors of the recall campaign, and Wilson and other WSPD local hosts have made no bones about their dislike of Finkbeiner and his actions in his now-third term as Toledo’s mayor, both on and off the air.

The local radio cluster enlisted the help of various Toledo area businessmen in the effort that will now no longer appear on Toledo’s November ballot.

The Blade article linked earlier suggests that Clear Channel Toledo used the recall effort to boost listenership:

Take Back Toledo backers, including WSPD-AM Radio and several suburban businessmen, bankrolled the unsuccessful recall effort because Mayor Finkbeiner angered them over development issues and to try to boost radio ratings.

Well, we don’t know about that. We don’t know Toledo politics at all, but from afar, we get the idea that Finkbeiner provides WSPD and its hosts with more than enough material on his own… and probably helps the station’s ratings more when he’s actually in office.

And the Blade notes that Finkbeiner has announced he isn’t running for re-election, which means if the recall effort in Toledo would have been successful, he’d basically have lost a few weeks cleaning out his office.

Maybe the “Take Back Toledo”/WSPD folks, if they want to “boost ratings”, should secretly urge Carty to run for a fourth term sometime down the road…


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