ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Robert Ehrlich wants Marylanders to know he’s happy that Terrell Owens is not coming to Baltimore.
At least, he wants 18-to-34-year-old Marylanders listening to the radio during morning rush hour to know his feelings about the NFL wide receiver. Owens wound up with the Philadelphia Eagles after a failed deal to trade him from the San Francisco 49ers to the Baltimore Ravens.
Sports, pop-culture, politics — all are topics during the governor’s monthly appearances on the “Junkies in the Morning” radio show on 99.1 WHFS-FM.
His discussions on the entertainment talk show, which competes against the syndicated Howard Stern show, are a departure from stiff political analyses you might expect from a governor.
“He’s a Ravens-type profile? What’s that?” Ehrlich said on last week’s show, criticizing the deal — and Owens’ notorious attitude — in casual banter with the Junkies, the show’s four hosts: J.P. Flaim, Eric Bickel, Jason Bishop and John Auville.
Ehrlich’s press schedule has always been radio-heavy. He appears on WBAL every other Thursday and is a frequent guest on WTOP, WMAL and WCBM radio stations.
Radio, particularly the informal style of Junkies in the Morning, also suits politicians with Ehrlich’s charismatic and approachable style.
“He definitely has a preference when it comes to broadcast media,” said his spokeswoman, Shareese DeLeaver.
Although he has scheduled availability every Tuesday so traditional media can easily reach him, his appearance on the Junkies show lets the governor appeal to the varied interests of his constituency and reach out to a more elusive group — young voters.
“‘HFS is seen as a hip station,” said Auville, one of the hosts. For the governor to reach out to the station’s young audience, Auville said, “adds to his image somehow.”
Ehrlich makes an extra effort to talk with the Junkies because he’s been a fan of the show since he was a congressman, when he listened to it on his commute from Timonium, DeLeaver said.
“There’s not many outlets he’d get up that early in the morning for,” DeLeaver said.
He is such a fan that his first appearance was unscheduled — he called into the station, like many fans do, during a regular broadcast in early January and caught the hosts off guard, Auville said.
“To be honest, I didn’t believe it,” said Chris Kinard, the show’s producer. After the initial appearance, the governor’s press office and the station worked out an open-ended schedule and both sides have a standing invitation to call the other about current hot topics, Kinard said.
The hosts are more likely to bring up politics than Ehrlich is, Auville said. Although the Junkies keep an eye on the slots debate, Ehrlich beat them to it on last week’s show.
“By the way, have you guys been supporting my slots bill enough?” Ehrlich jested with the hosts before ending a segment that had not touched on the issue yet.
Despite supporting slot-machine gambling, Ehrlich hedged his bets on the University of Maryland when last week’s on-air discussion turned to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Ehrlich said he picked the home team to go all the way in one pool, but in the other he went with the University of Connecticut.
“He was a seer because Maryland got knocked out in the second round,” Auville said. Connecticut made it to at least the Sweet Sixteen, having survived the first two rounds of the tournament.
Auville put Ehrlich on the spot about tournament pools during the show, referring to former University of Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel who was fired for betting in office pools that won him a reported $18,000.
“Totally legal,” Ehrlich assured the Junkies about his pools. “Just in case anyone’s listening.”
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