Over the years, we’ve seen former politicians segue into radio talk-show hosts, notably Clifford Kelley, Jim Laski, Joe Walsh, and Ed Vrdolyak, among others.
But now we are actually seeing a radio talk-host running for office.
After she was canned Monday as late-night host at WGN-AM, former stand-up comedian and now former radio host Patti Vasquez announced she was running in the Democratic primary for the 10th District state senate seat, as reported by Politico. She confirmed this Monday on her Facebook page.
The office is currently held by outgoing incumbent John Mulroe and the district covers the far Northwest Side Chicago neighborhoods of Edison Park, Norwood Park, Jefferson Park, and part of Dunning, and the near northwestern suburbs including Norridge, Harwood Heights (both are actually surrounded by Chicago), Schiller Park, and Rosemont.
But while she is an already well-known name (at least in Chicago radio circles), there is one major problem with her candidacy – her tumultuous past at WGN Radio.
On the day she announced she was running for Illinois state senate, Vasquez was fired from the station apparently for misconduct, as reported by Robert Feder. WGN boss Todd Manley gave a terse statement on Vasquez’s status at the station: “Patti Vasquez is no longer working with WGN Radio. Her departure is a private matter and will remain that way. We are grateful to her for her service to WGN Radio, and wish her the best.”
On Tuesday however, Feder reported the reason for her termination was a failure to report an incident where profane language was used at someone when a live mic was accidentally switched on while anchor Roger Badesch was doing a live news report on her show. It was not known if Vasquez was the one using profanity (due to “safe harbor”, the FCC won’t take action since the incident occurred between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.)
Since being hired by WGN in 2013, Vasquez has been suspended twice for numerous incidents, including calling then-mayor Rahm Emanuel in the middle of night and put him on the air without his consent (against FCC rules) and last year when she sent threatening messages to a producer via social media. You have to wonder if any competing candidate – Democrat or Republican – can use these incidents against her as she could be portrayed as one who can’t handle pressure in stressful situations. And her failure to report an incident to her bosses may not build trust with potential constituents, even in a state known for rampant corruption – which voters have made clear they are tired of.
Even though she portrays herself as an “advocate of children and families”, maybe she can also use her platform to address numerous issues in the business including media consolidation, consumer issues, Big Tech (Google Facebook, etc.) abusing their power, and the addressing the problems in the medium she used to work for, including radio conglomerates who are in debt with a few selling out to non-profit bible thumpers while continuing to lay off hundreds of workers each year in order to cut their way to profitability.
But I seriously doubt it.