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Rod Blagojevich, media star: 2-hour stint on WLS used to attack Quinn
By Ted Cox | Daily Herald Staff

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich listens to a caller as he guest hosts the Don and Roma radio talk show at the studios of WLS Radio in Chicago Wednesday.

 

Associated Press

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich guest hosts the Don Wade & Roma talk show at the studios of WLS Radio in Chicago.

 

Associated Press

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich arrives at WLS studios this morning.

 

ABC 7 Chicago

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich guest hosts the Don Wade & Roma talk show at the studios of WLS Radio in Chicago.

 

Associated Press

Impeached former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich listens to a caller.

 

Associated Press

Impeached former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich hosts the Don and Roma radio talk show at the studios of WLS Radio in Chicago Wednesday.

 

Associated Press

Impeached former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich lin studio.

 

Associated Press

Former impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, right, poses with Second City actor Joey Bland, who plays Blagojevich in a Second City production of "Rod Blagojevich Superstar," as Blagojevich guest hosts the Don and Roma radio tall show.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 3/25/2009 6:58 AM | Updated: 3/25/2009 7:16 PM

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WLS 890-AM turned its airwaves over to Rod Blagojevich for a couple hours Wednesday, as the disgraced former governor filled in for vacationing radio talk show hosts and used the platform to repeat accusations about a conspiracy to remove him from office.

Blagojevich subbed for Don Wade & Roma from 7 to 9 a.m., devoting much of that time to criticizing Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed tax increase and blasting 17 "double-dipping" state legislators with multiple government jobs. Several callers asked him questions, most of whom appeared to have been tightly screened.

In the end, Blagojevich never directly addressed the federal indictment he faces and corruption charges expected to be formally filed against him in the next few weeks, except to insist that his job had been "hijacked" when he was impeached and removed from office.

Blagojevich repeated his earlier prediction that Quinn would try to raise taxes, calling it a "corrupt bargain" with Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan. "There are ways to balance the budget without raising taxes on people," Blagojevich said.

Quinn has said his hands are tied as he tries to cut state spending but also chop down an $11 billion-plus deficit built up during the Blagojevich years.

Quinn told reporters in Springfield Wednesday that he caught some of his predecessor's radio show - and then dismissed Blagojevich as "yesterday's tomatoes."

On WLS, Blagojevich also spoke of 17 "double-dippers," state legislators who hold additional government jobs, and singled out a few Chicago Democrats by name. Because of that, he said, they have no right to raise anyone's taxes. Yet, it's not illegal to collect multiple government salaries - as long as the person is doing the work.

A handful of callers asked the former governor questions, with a few pledging support. Patty from Villa Park said, "I know you'll be vindicated" and "we think you're wonderful and you're the best thing to happen to Illinois." Fred from McHenry County added, "You got railroaded."

The studio was not open to reporters. Blagojevich's guests included Ann Compton of ABC News, former Chicago sports columnist Jay Mariotti and comedian D.L. Hughley, calling in from the West Coast. "I'm glad to see you landed on your feet," Hughley told Blagojevich.

"Well, so far so good," Blagojevich replied.

WLS tried to make the most of their guest host. News anchor John Dempsey led his updates by saying "the big story of the day" was Blagojevich's appearance on WLS-AM. Blagojevich rewarded him by calling him "Patrick Dempsey" - aka Dr. McDreamy on TV's "Grey's Anatomy" - in his thanks at the end of the show.

To his credit, Blagojevich had the stars of the satirical lampoon "Rod Blagojevich Superstar" on, even as he admitted, "I don't believe it's a complimentary play."

Joey Bland, who plays the former governor in the show, got off the line of the morning when he said, "I feel like Laurence Olivier meeting Hamlet." He went on to call attention to Blagojevich's shameless media blitz by saying, "Gosh, for a while there it was pretty hard to miss you."

"I miss those days!" Blagojevich said.

WLS Program Director Bob Shomper said listener response he received was "lopsided" along the lines of Blagojevich's approval ratings, but that "you've got to take a few risks in life - and in business too," adding, "The opportunity outweighed the risks big time."