Former Congressman John Sweeney begins hosting a one-hour radio show beginning Monday at 11 am on Talk 1300.
Nicknamed “Congressman Kickass” by Bush 43 for his aggressive role in the 2000 Florida recount, Sweeney told station boss Paul Vandenburgh this morning the show will be “topical” and feature guests that bring a “different perspective” than the standard fare. Sweeney says it will not just be about politics.
Foremost on listeners’ minds will be the question of Sweeney’s authenticity. Can Congressman Kickass be Ex Congressman Humility? Will he convince them he is truly repentant for his past troubles? Drunk driving problems eventually sent Sweeney to jail and domestic violence allegations involving his second wife were a big factor in his 2006 Congressional defeat. He once said he even contemplated suicide.
That’s a pretty big hole to dig out of but Sweeney appears to be saying all the right things involving his recovery.
The change is a savvy marketing move. It generates publicity and will bring the curious to the station’s dial. Sweeney’s perspectives as a former Congressman, a key player in the Bill Powers GOP revival in the early 90’s and as a recovering alcoholic can provide unusual insights. He’s also bright, articulate and opinionated —- all radio pluses. Vandenburgh and Sweeney are old Troy boys so personal loyalty is certainly a part of this, too. Vanderburgh has managed to survive as a sole station owner in the land of the radio giants. That’s no small feat.
In the end, the show’s faces the same test every other one faces: How interesting is it to listen to?
Most of us like to root for authentic redemption.
The writer is a former TV anchor who hosts a radio show on FM 88.3.