The Week That Won’t End

Local media news keeps coming out this week. We believe a boisterous former Northeast Ohio congressman is first in line…

JIMBO RADIO: As just about anyone who can pronounce the name “Jim Traficant” expected, the former Mahoning Valley congressman is about to open up the microphone as a host on Youngstown’s biggest talk station.

But for now, at least, Traficant – fresh off a federal prison stint – won’t be hosting his OWN show on Clear Channel talk WKBN/570.

Tbe Youngstown Business Journal and Youngstown Vindicator report that on Monday, the former lawmaker will “guest host” the 10 AM-noon show normally occupied by WKBN program director/CC Youngstown operations director Dan Rivers.

Andrea Wood’s Business Journal was first to report this on Thursday afternoon, after the station had apparently promoted it “frequently” on-air. (We caught a small chunk of ‘KBN afternoon driver Ron Verb on Thursday, but didn’t hear it mentioned in about 10 minutes of listening.) Andrea also gave us first word yesterday. The Business Journal talked to Rivers:

“He’s hosted the show a number of times in the past. He’s pretty capable,” Rivers said.

The Vindicator writes, also noting the ex-con/ex-congressman’s talk radio hosting experience:

Traficant will also be back in the radio talk show host chair from 10 a.m. to noon Monday on WKBN, 570 AM.

Traficant is filling in for Dan Rivers, who is also the station’s operations manager and will be in Washington, D.C., early next week.

Rivers said he contacted Traficant requesting he fill in, and the former congressman agreed.

While under indictment, Traficant hosted the station’s morning show from May 29 to June 1, 2001. He was also a guest host on WKBN in late December 2000.

Our take? Traficant loves a stage, and isn’t content to sit in the second chair when another host asks him questions. He wants to talk, and he considers (our guess) the WKBN microphone the closest thing he has to directly addressing the Mahoning Valley unfiltered for two hours.

(Our apologies if we’d listed Rivers’ time slot as 9-noon before. We’d forgotten that morning drive host Robert Mangino’s show ends at 10.)

But will Monday’s fill-in lead to a regular on-air gig? (Yes, we can hear CC Youngstown market manager and OMW reader Bill Kelly – “stay tuned!”)

From the Vindicator article, which recounts Traficant’s Thursday evening appearance on Fox News Channel’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren”:

Ex-U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren that his chances of running for Congress again are “50-50.”

“I have a lot of people who are encouraging me to run because there are a lot of disenfranchised people here,” Traficant said in an interview recorded Wednesday that aired on Thursday’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” on Fox News.

Traficant said that his old district is “fractured” and that he needed to find out if he was a viable candidate who could gain the support needed to return to Washington, D.C.

He also has the Tim Ryan Problem, should Traficant decide to run.

The current incumbent Valley congressman has made it a point of making sure people know, says the Business Journal’s Andrea Wood, that he’s the “man in charge now”, with frequent appearances next to national power brokers. (And it doesn’t hurt Ryan that he’ll likely be alongside President Obama at the president’s reported visit to the GM Lordstown plant next week.)

To us, it sounds like Traficant will look into a return to politics first, and perhaps fall back into talk radio if he decides not to run again. Or, continue to dabble in talk radio while the decision is being made.

There is a certain diehard sector in the Youngstown area that would vote for Traficant if he harmed baby seals live on stage. If we remember right, he got something on the order of 15 percent of the vote running for his old seat after he went behind bars.

But this exchange with Van Susteren, reprinted in the Vindicator article, may indicate problems with his broader appeal these days…at least in a future run for office:

The embattled former congressman spoke extensively on the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.

He said that the U.S. is furthering the “expansionist policy” of Israel in the Middle East.

“I believe Israel has a powerful stranglehold on the American government,” Traficant said. “They own the Congress.”

When asked by Van Susteren if he was an anti-Semite, Traficant said he was not, adding, “What I am is an American.”

The Business Journal’s Wood tells us that such talk may be a problem for Traficant not just at the ballot box:

“WKBN Radio will try to milk Traficant all it can, but will advertisers want to sponsor his rants? Some will; lots will not.”

Jim Traficant doesn’t need the money, so it won’t be financial issues driving him to do a radio talk show if he doesn’t run for Congress. He has his Congressional pension, which has driven some to say that ex-felon former congress members should be stripped of that pension. And he has other retirement money.

But if he doesn’t run for office, Jim Traficant’s ego may well nudge him towards South Avenue…

THE REALLY, REALLY BIG SHOW: Not content to stay local, Good Karma sports WKNR/850 “ESPN 850″‘s “Really Big Show with Tony Rizzo” will inflict itself not just on Northeast Ohio, but upon the nation on Monday.

OK, so we’re kidding about the “inflict” part. Maybe.

But WKNR assistant program director/”RBS” producer/sidekick Aaron Goldhammer passes along word that the show’s normal audience will get a LOT bigger than Cleveland on Monday. Well, for one day, at least:

On September 14th, in the aftermath of one of the biggest football weekends in Cleveland’s sports history, “The Really Big Show” will take over “The Jungle.” Tony Rizzo, Aaron Goldhammer, and Josh Sabo will fill in for Jim Rome on his nationally syndicated radio show from noon-3pm, live from Cleveland on ESPN 850 WKNR.

Rizzo’s appearance in “The Jungle” marks only the third time in show history that a local affiliate host has subbed for Rome.

We already noted here the love expressed by the Premiere syndicated host for his Cleveland affiliate, which has aired the program for 12 years straight and was one of “The Jungle”‘s first large market affiliates in a big sports town.

Back on the WKNR airwaves, station veterans Greg Brinda and Kenny Roda will hold down the regular “Really Big Show” 9 AM-noon time slot on Monday…

EMMY TOMORROW: The 40th annual area Emmy Awards take place Saturday evening at the InterContinental Hotel on Carnegie Avenue in Cleveland.

The 40th anniversary event will bring a number of big local media names to the stage as presenters. Among them: Del Donahoo, Neil Zurcher, Fred Griffith, Virgil Dominic, Martin Savidge and Chuck Schodowski.

One nominee is a TV show we’ve written about before: “Radio Daze: Cleveland’s FM Air Wars”, which aired on Western Reserve PBS (WNEO/45-WEAO/49) and was written by long-time Cleveland air personality Mike Oleszewski – based on his book of the same name.

We’re told you can still snag tickets this Friday – $80 per person. You can get them by logging onto the NATAS Lower Great Lakes web site ( or by calling the chapter office at (440) 546-3669…


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