Blagojevich hits the airwaves as host

March 25, 2009 4:25:25 PM PDT
Former governor Rod Blagojevich hit the airways, making his debut as a radio talk show host.VIDEO: Watch raw video of the former governor's arrival at 190 North State

Blagojevich filled in as host on the Don Wade and Roma Morning Show on WLS-AM radio.

His one day gig lasted two hours and he used the opportunity to attack Illinois lawmakers and blast current Governor Pat Quinn.

Out of the pre-dawn darkness back into the spotlight walked the former governor.

"Hi, this is Rod Blagojevich and I got to tell you I sure do love Elvis," said Blagojevich.

Neither private citizen Rod Blagojevich nor WLS radio would reveal how much the one-time, 7-9 a.m. gig paid. He took calls from loving listeners that the ousted governor insisted had not been pre-screened.

Otherwise, not much news on the Blago show. He stuck to his 'I told you so' mantra when discussing the income tax increase proposed by replacement Governor Pat Quinn and supported, according to Blagojevich, by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.

"The system is unfair and Pat Quinn, who's supposed to be the man of the people, is protecting those corporate interests who aren't paying their fair share and he wants to sock it to the average guy with a 50 percent income tax increase," said Blagojevich.

As he left the studio, the governor would not comment on his eminent federal corruption indictment. He quickly returned the discussion to the tax increase and he says the gall of seventeen Illinois lawmakers who hold taxpayer-supported jobs in local governments at the same time they collect a state paycheck.

"They take their marching orders from Mike Madigan," said Blagojevich.

The governor said he had busied himself at home the past several weeks writing a book. His publicist said his controversial client needs public time.

"He likes people. He likes being out there speaking to the people and this is a great opportunity. This came his way and he took it," said Glenn Selig, Blagojevich publicist.

Outside a media mob gave Blagojevich the rock star treatment. He made one unscheduled live television appearance and even signed a few autographs. And he admitted what had become so obvious; he missed being the governor, the center of attention.

"It was so rewarding to be out there and fight for the average family like the one I came from and I miss being governor because I'm not in a position to do those things for them," said Blagojevich.

The WLS radio program director Bob Shomper gave Blagojevich a "solid B" as a grade for his effort, adding the former governor did a "wonderful job" his first time time out. When asked if Blagojevich would be back, Shomper said, "he might."

Since his impeachment in January, Blagojevich has been working on a book. He also has a new defense counsel, attorney Terrence Gillespie, as he awaits a federal indictment for attempting to sell President Barack Obama's Senate seat.

Blagojevich continued to criticize lawmakers who kicked him out of office.

Impeached governor Rod Blagojevich also interviewed guests on the air.

"Seems like only yesterday I was the governor of the fifth-largest state in America, and now I'm here sitting in the seat that Don Wade sits in. You can say that I have achieved higher office," Blagojevich joked.

The Elvis fan opened with - what else? - but "Little Less Conversation," only changing the words, saying he wants a little more conversation and a little less action.

"A tax increase on the people is the worst thing that you can do, in my judgment," Blagojevich said.

Blagojevich said the tax increase was part of the reason he believes government leaders conspired to get him out of office. Some callers praised Blagojevich.

"I know that you will be vindicated. I absolutely know this," said caller Patty from Villa Park. "I wanted to thank you so much for your healthcare program, health benefits for workers with disabilities has helped me greatly. And I wouldn't have health care if it wasn't for you."

"In my mind, my heart, I believe God has a purpose for me. I'm his instrument in some form or another. To the extent I can be still someone who fights for the average guy, the little guy," Blagojevich said.

How did Wednesday's show go for him?

"That was the fastest two hours I had," Blagojevich said smiling after the show. "It was fun. I felt like there wasn't enough time to say all I would like to say."

Blagojevich also named a list of people he called double dippers, public officials who have two different government jobs and salaries. Blagojevich could face his own indictment in just a few weeks. The date for federal prosecutors to seek that indictment is April 7.

Blagojevich is a talk show novice and he acknowledged it.

"This is harder than being governor," he quipped.

But Blagojevich quickly got more comfortable as the two-hour show wore on after initially stumbling over his title as "former governor" when he first introduced himself.

"I was hijacked from office. ... It was a political fix and I predicted that," Blagojevich said.

He got a healthy dose of sympathy from CNN's D.L. Hughley, who was a call-in guest on the show.

Blagojevich hinted at his legal problems on air, saying he has some challenges ahead.

"I'm going to trust in the truth and as it says in the Bible, the truth shall set you free," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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