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Last updated: Thu. Jul. 10, 2014 - 09:09 am EDT

COLUMN

Pat White is back on the air, promising 'intelligent' talk radio

Show will explore local news and issues, not 'divisive' politics or religion

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This week's guest will be Three Rivers Festival Executive Director Jack Hammer, who will discuss this year's event and the challenges and opportunities facing the organization. The episode will premiere at 5:30 p.m. Saturday on Comcast Channel 57 and FiOS Channel 27 and later at www.news-sentinel.com.

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Pat White has hosted local radio talk shows on and off since 1990, but when WGL-AM was sold and became a sports station at the end of May, he was out of a job – and not sure when, where or if he would get another chance.

He needn't have worried. "The Pat White Show” is slated to return Saturday on WLYV, 1450-AM – a station with a long and varied history that now bills itself as “the Patriot” and promises listeners “intelligent” talk.

Is that a not-too-subtle reference to WOWO, the city's talk-radio leader and the station that unceremoniously dumped White in 2010 after 14 years on the air? White won't say for certain, but makes it clear he still intends to do the show his way – a style WOWO executives insisted wasn't entirely compatible with the station's lineup of more-political syndicated programs hosted by the likes of Rush Limbaugh.

“We'll be doing a local issues show, like a week in review,” said the 67-year-old Air Force veteran whose show will air Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. but could be expanded to weekdays should ratings and other considerations fall into place. “I want to talk to people in the news, with something going on. When you tune in to Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, they're very political and Pat Miller (who replaced him as host of WOWO's afternoon drive-time show) is very religious.

“I try to stay away from that; it's not what I do. When you are very political, you can turn off part of your audience. I have an opinion, but I hope to encourage discourse.”

Old-timers may remember WLYV as the hippest radio station in town, with its DJs – the “LYV Guys” – spinning the latest rock 'n' roll records. More recently, the station was known as “Redeemer Radio” and featured Catholic-oriented programming. But all that changed in May when the Adams Radio Group paid about $6.4 million for WGL and six other Fort Wayne signals in a deal that later saw the Minnesota-based company trade one of its new acquisitions for WLYV.

If the deal sounds a little convoluted, it was – driven in part by federal regulations limiting the number of signals a company can own in any one market. But to White, who knows only too well how volatile the radio business can be, evolution of the electronic media makes his job easier and, hopefully, more appealing to listeners.

“In the old days, I'd bring a stack of newspapers back to the station and cut out the stories I wanted to talk about. With the Internet, everything is available and up to date,” he said – and possible fodder for discussion.

The insinuation that the “The Patriot” offers a markedly different alternative to traditional conservative talk radio is belied by some of its other programming. Hosts Bill Bennett, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Miller and Michael Savage can be every bit or more political than Limbaugh and Beck. But as for White, he's determined that his show really will be different from the competition.

There will be one other difference: His long-time producer, “Queen” Diane,” has retired.

White goes on.

“I'm just happy to be around, and I'll do this as long as I can. I love having the chance to talk to people and discuss things. My purpose is not to preach but to inform and entertain, and if I do someone will have the chance to say, 'Did you hear about this?' ” he said.

I've been pleased to appear on Miller's WOWO show several times, and for better or worse I'll be White's first guest Saturday. After that things should improve dramatically, with City Councilman John Crawford already booked to discuss his efforts to end collective bargaining for city employees and other issues. In the future White hopes to discuss crime with Police Chief Garry Hamilton, the war on terror and other issues with State Sen. Jim Banks (who announced this week he will deploy to Afghanistan with the Navy in September) and attract other people making news, the vast majority of them local.

White is convinced there's a market for his brand of talk.

“When you do something for 24 years you build up an audience, and you hope they follow you (to a new station). I'm still getting calls asking, 'Where are you?' ”

That question will be answered Saturday.

kleininger@news-sentinel.com


This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at kleininger@news-sentinel.com or call him at 461-8355.


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