Outgoing NY Governor May Have A Future In Radio

After last month's elections, there are a lot of lame-duck politicians looking for their next jobs. David Paterson has only one month left as New York Governor, but he seems to have found his new career. Paterson spent Wednesday co-hosting a call-in radio sports program.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

After the last election, a lot of lame-duck politicians are looking for new jobs. And they include New York Governor David Paterson, who did not run this year. Yesterday, Governor Paterson began his final month in office by co-hosting a talk radio program. Not about politics. About sports. This story calls for team coverage, so we have play-by-play from NPR's Robert Smith and color commentary from our own Mike Pesca.

ROBERT SMITH: Being governor is just like any other job. Once you've given notice, you update your resume, steal a few office supplies, and start trolling for your new gig.

(Soundbite of song)

Unidentified Man: (Singing) Miked up. He's ready to go. On The Fan, New York sports radio.

MIKE PESCA: Mike Francessa is the dean of sports talk radio in New York. His show used to be Mike and the Mad Dog, but Mad Dog left. And now there's an empty chair.

Mr. MIKE FRANCESSA (Radio host): Governor Paterson will be with me all day. We'll do a lot of sports stuff. We're kind of setting the table now.

SMITH: It's not like the governor of the third biggest state has anything else to do. He called a special session of the legislature this week.

PESCA: But like fans of a team thats twenty games out of first, the legislator(ph) showed up with low expectations, didnt pay much attention and left early. Yes, Governor Paterson has all the appeal of a Cardinals home run ball that lands in the stands at a Cubs game.

SMITH: But that did free him up for the afternoon. Forget the $9 billion budget deficit next year. Finally, Paterson was talking about something that New Yorkers cared about.

Governor DAVID PATERSON (Democrat, New York): I believe that the core of the Mets is not a winning core.

PESCA: So he critiques the Mets. He loves the Jets. He even has time for the Nets.

Gov. PATERSON: Believe it or not, I actually will root for the Nets when they're on. And especially...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Gov. PATERSON: ...after what you said yesterday. And it's true.

SMITH: We haven't heard much of that chuckle from the governor over the last year. David Paterson has been dogged by scandal, investigated by the state attorney general, and mocked by "Saturday Night Live." He decided not to run again for public office.

PESCA: But even when he was avoiding most of the media, he loved to talk on the radio. Our sideline reporter caught up with the governor the day before his appearance on WFAN. She asked him if he considered a post-gubernatorial career on the airwaves.

Gov. PATERSON: I wouldn't rule it out. People who know me tell me that there is a difference in my cadence and presentation on radio than television. I think I have a little bit of fear of the camera, because I can't really look at the camera and maybe it takes away from the kind of relaxed way that I'm talking to you right now.

SMITH: So Pesca, you tune in to sports radio every day.

PESCA: We like to us the phrase long time listener.

SMITH: OK. OK. So break down the tape, my friend.

PESCA: Well, as every NFL rookie could tell you, the transition from amateur to the professional ranks can be a tough one. Especially when youre facing a murderer's row of callers trying to brush you back off the plate.

Mr. FRANCESSA: Lou in Rego Park. Lou, what's happening? Fred in Westberry. What's up, Fred. Bobby in Riverhead. Go ahead, Bobby.

BOBBY: How you doing, Mike? How you doing, Gov?

SMITH: So how did the Gov do?

PESCA: Well, let's take his college basketball rankings.

Gov. PATERSON: California, Texas and Florida and probably Illinois - maybe Pennsylvania.

PESCA: They're totally inaccurate. Where's...

SMITH: No. I think he's actually listing the hardest states to govern.

PESCA: Ah. OK. Well, in that case, he did a really good job, I'd say. He didnt hit it out of the part, but there was a solid single with his opinion on the Derek Jeter contract. He had a good take on LeBron James. And I think Paterson really rose to the occasion with this spiel about the Patriots.

Gov. PATERSON: Because I heard earlier today somebody said that New England is a remnant of the team they used to have. No. They're a new team. They've got a lot of new players. Bellicheck gets draft choices the way you go to the store and buy ice cream.

PESCA: A little angrier and that could be a sport radio regular.

SMITH: If he were a little angrier, he might've balanced the state budget.

PESCA: Well, if Dave from Harlem doesn't make it on WFAN, he's got a fall-back option. He'll be filling in as host of "The John Gambling Show" on WOR radio tomorrow.

SMITH: Traffic and weather on the 8's. Governor on the 9's.

I'm Robert Smith.

PESCA: And I'm Mike Pesca, NPR News.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: This is sports radio, MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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