If it seems like you’ve been hearing former Gov. Pat McCrory on the radio more and more lately, you’re not imagining things.
The Republican who also long served as Charlotte’s mayor has landed a regular spot on talk radio station WBT-AM (1110) weekdays from 9 to 10 a.m., according to general manager Matt Hanlon. McCrory shares the time slot with station veteran Bo Thompson, who also hosts WBT’s “Morning News” from 5 to 9 a.m.
McCrory started in September with brief early-morning spots with Thompson around 7:15 a.m., as the Charlotte station looked to capitalize on his expertise during the mayoral race, Hanlon said. After the November election, McCrory committed to his new time slot for at least a couple of months, as he weighs other job possibilities.
The governor’s expanded role came after an “extraordinary” response to his early-morning spots, Hanlon said.
“Not only did we see a legitimate bump in growth in our ratings, we also got a tremendous amount of feedback,” he said. “Not all 100 percent ‘I love this’ but that’s OK. We’re providing a perspective, not the perspective.”
On the show, McCrory weighs in on everything from sports to hot news topics such as Matt Lauer’s firing from the “Today Show” over sexual harassment allegations. He’s also not shy about talking politics, including issues from his one term as governor.
On Thursday, for example, he interviewed Donald van der Vaart, who was secretary of the state Department of Environmental Quality at the end of McCrory’s term. Van der Vaart had remained in the department under Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, but resigned this week after being put on paid administrative leave nearly a month ago. The leave came shortly after van der Vaart was appointed to a board of the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency.
McCrory, who lost his campaign for a second term last November, hasn’t ruled out running for his old job in 2020. But Hanlon said he doesn’t see McCrory’s new role as a campaign platform.
“The objective of this show is to give people a perspective that they normally wouldn’t be able to know or understand,” he said. “Every morning there should a ‘wow. I didn’t know it’s like that.’ It’s just because he’s back-stage, and we haven’t been. ...So we’re more looking for his objective experience and very much not trying to provide any political platform.”
Hanlon said he would like McCrory to stay long term. McCrory has previously said the backlash against House Bill 2 – the controversial LGBT bill he signed in March 2016 – made some employers reluctant to hire him.
“I just know his sphere of influence is broad,” Hanlon said. “He knows a lot of people. We have people down the hall (at the station) for other reasons, and they see him and stop in the studio, the CEO of LendingTree (Doug Lebda) the other day. I’m sure he has a lot of irons in the fire, but he hasn’t shared them with me.”
McCrory declined to comment.
The new spot for the governor has meant other lineup changes at WBT, Charlotte’s first radio station dating back to 1922. Scott Fitzgerald had previously held the 9 a.m. slot but is now doing work for other stations owned by WBT’s parent, Philadelphia-based Entercom Communications, Hanlon said.
“It was a programming decision,” he said, adding that Fitzgerald is a “very talented guy who we like a lot.”
Fitzgerald had taken over for WBT’s longtime mid-morning personality Keith Larson who departed in October 2016 shortly before Entercom completed its purchase of WBT, its sister station WLNK-FM (“Link” 107.9) and sports station WFNZ-AM (“Fan” 610). Larson now has his own podcast which is broadcast on WZGV-AM (ESPN 730).
Rounding out its lineup changes, WBT has inserted a show hosted by Vince Coakley – a former Charlotte TV anchor and Republican congressional candidate – into its 10 a.m. to noon slot. It’s a network show that has already been airing on a station in Greenville, S.C., Hanlon said.
Staff writer Jim Morrill contributed.