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WBAL defends decision to keep Ehrlich on air

Thumbnail image for ehrlichs.jpg
"Apparently our little old show here has created quite the controversy."

So noted Kendel Ehrlich at the outset of Saturday morning's "Kendel and Bob Show" on Baltimore's WBAL radio, which devoted its entire first segment to a complaint filed by the Maryland Democratic Party.

The Democrats contend the weekly show amounts to an "infomercial" that violates state campaign-finance laws, now that former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) has announced he is challenging Martin O'Malley (D), the incumbent.

At the invitation of the Ehrlichs, WBAL news director Mark Miller explained the station's position that candidates are not subject to federal equal-time rules until they file their papers with the elections board. Ehrlich has not done so and indicated he doesn't plan to do so much before the July 6 deadline.

Miller cited a string of sitting officeholders dating back to William Donald Schaefer, during his days as mayor of Baltimore, who had shows on WBAL. O'Malley also appeared on a regular program as mayor but declined an offer to do a show as governor, Miller said. In all cases, Miller said, the plug has not been pulled until the incumbent officially files for reelection.

"That precedent has been there for than 25 years," Miller said.

The Democratic Party contends that Ehrlich is receiving an estimated $18,000 in free air time each week, which it says amounts to an illegal in-kind campaign contribution from WBAL.

Ehrlich reiterated that he plans to continue co-hosting the show until July.

"We expected this, but we didn't expect it to be this big of a brouhaha," he told listeners. "We are going to stay on the air and comport with the law. ... When the filing deadline occurs, I'll be off."

By John Wagner  |  April 24, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
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Nothing but the usual ignorance on AM hate radio.

Posted by: PepperDr | April 24, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

In a state which is 2-1 Democrat and in which Ehrlich was the only Republican governor since 1968, this is a non-issue.

Posted by: MrBethesda | April 24, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh what a fuss GOP would make if it were the other way around. If it's not against the law, it should be. Anyone with sense can see it is unfair. He is sure to get the teaparty vote in large part because of his show on am-hate-radio.

Posted by: livingroses | April 24, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

nobody of any intelligence listens to wbal radio... it's AM talk radio afterall...

the guilded age of radio...

if that's the audience erlich appeals to, so be it... it's only a bunch of old white folks... the retired, living on social security, medicare, and government pension crowd, you know the teabaggers who receive government services but don't want to pay for them.... and complain their taxes are too high, but don't realize their effective tax rate is well below 8%, but are in favor of something called a 15% flat (fair) tax... and don't like the "death" (inheritance) tax, but don't have enough wealth saved up, so even if they did die -- their children and grandchildren wouldn't come close to having pay it when their estates are settled...

we call them balti-morons...

Posted by: FranknErnest | April 24, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Come off it people, this is a tempest in a teapot. I would bet a weeks pay that the majority of those people in Maryland who are Tea Partiers, aren't even registered to vote. Those people seem so cynical and self righteous, they can't stand to work within the system.

Posted by: VikingRider | April 24, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

WBAL? More like WHATE.

Posted by: crawfam | April 24, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't matter, Ehrlich hasn't got a chance. And I'm a Republican!

Posted by: gpl2411 | April 24, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Candidates are not subject to federal equal-time rules until they file their papers with the elections board. Ehrlich has not done so and indicated he doesn't plan to do so much before the July 6 deadline.

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | April 24, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Note to Ehrlich:

I voted for you in your first run for governor.

You are a sleazebag.

Grow some onions.

Posted by: mdpilot | April 24, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Keep up the good work, Gov. Bob. I, for one, am so looking forward to November.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | April 24, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

The law may very well say that Ehrlich doesn't have to come off the air until he files his papers, but we all (including Erhlich) know that the spirit of the law is being violated here. Ehrlich has found a loophole and is exploiting it.

This guy is acting real gubernatorial right? More like criminal. What an ass.

Posted by: hamsandwich | April 25, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

we need someone with deep pockets to bring Rush and the others into the FM world...

Posted by: DwightCollins | April 25, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

if Ehrlich get elected again, maybe the millionaires will quit leaving the state.

Hopefully, the people who work will all vote and the democrats will stay home in November doing dope.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | April 25, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

if maryland raises taxes, more millionaires will leave, because they can...
and your taxes will go up...
you will find more dems moving to fairfax and making excuses for it...

Posted by: DwightCollins | April 25, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

This is the same law that a Frederick County station (WFMD) hides behind for a local commissioner there, Blaine Young, a controversial local pol with wide popularity among a particular demographic. The station is perfectly within its rights to do this, as is the Baltimore station. While these two stations have a large local listener base, not does not translate well outside the local areas.
In Young's case it reminds me of listening to the former Redskins GM - I listen for the entertainment not for the knowledge gained. For the Baltimore station I suspect those who love former Gov. Ehrlich will still love him, and those who don't won't change their minds.
In the end, Gov. O'Malley has full access to the media in his role as Governor, and I would think he'll use that to his advantage. When the debates come back on TV, Gov. O'Malley will likely best former Gov. Ehrlich as he did the last time, when it counts the most.

Posted by: bfjam | April 25, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

The Democratic Party needs to file a grievance with the FEC, and/or take WBAL to court quickly. Make them defend their action more than editorially.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | April 25, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like Ehrlich. He'll conform to the law but not to the spirit of the law. Not a good trait for a governor.

Posted by: TheMuse2 | April 25, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Miller's response is disingenuous at best. I have no problem with an elected official having a scheduled show; that's a public service with which to answer constituents' questions. But Mr. Ehrlich is not currently an elected official; he most definitely IS a candidate, and the fact that he hasn't filed his papers yet is simply using a loophole. I completely agree with the commenters who stated that while WBAL's decision may be adhering to the letter of the law, it most certainly flouts the spirit.

Posted by: dcgrasso1 | April 26, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

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