Forbes Introducing Himself on Radio
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Magazine publisher-politician Steve Forbes can be heard on the radio these days reciting the poetry of soul singer James Brown, dispensing a little medical advice and singing the praises of his favorite cause, the flat tax.
Borrowing a page from Ronald Reagan’s playbook, the Republican presidential hopeful is introducing himself to Americans over the airwaves of 100 radio stations from Alaska to Florida.
Listeners in Blanding, Utah; Swainsboro, Ga.; Muskegon, Mich.; Kalispell, Mont., and scores of similar towns tune in to hear Forbes talk for 90 seconds each weekday about the economy, crime, education, the environment.
His commentaries also are picked up in some larger cities such as Phoenix, San Diego and Baltimore. Perhaps most importantly, they reach four stations in Iowa and one in New Hampshire _ key early primary states for presidential contests.
The spots, called ``One on One with Steve Forbes,″ began in January under auspices of Forbes’ ``issue advocacy″ group, Americans for Hope, Growth and Opportunity. Forbes neither pays radio stations to air the spots nor receives payment.
In one commentary, the strait-laced Forbes quotes from ``a poem written by the Godfather of Soul, James Brown:″
``Beware my friend, my name is cocaine. Coke for short, or the rock. I’m more valued than diamonds, more treasured than gold. Use me just once, and you too will be sold.″
In another, the publisher praises a new diagnostic tool for doctors and warns listeners to beware the hidden peril of clogged arteries.
``Let’s say that you feel you have a healthy heart and have had no previous signs of trouble. Each year about 150,000 people with clogged arteries suffer a fatal heart attack. They, too, felt they had a healthy heart,″ warns Forbes in his best Marcus Welby tone.
Forbes’ producer, Harry O’Connor, also produced Reagan’s radio commentary program from 1975 through 1979, the years leading up to his successful run for presidency in 1980.
Reagan made it onto 400 radio stations; Forbes recently hit 100. Forbes’ radio syndicator, Al Herskovitz, said ``a handful″ of stations turned down the spots on grounds that Forbes is likely to run for president. But otherwise, the reaction has been positive.
``There is a tremendous explosion in news talk radio stations in the country looking for good, solid material, and most local stations do not have access to a national commentator they can call their own,″ said Herskovitz, president of H&H Communications.
Free air time can be a boon to undeclared candidates. Former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2000, contributed ``essays″ to CBS Evening News for several months, using his time for nonpolitical topics such as heroism and good sportsmanship.
Roger Williams, advertising director for talk radio station KCPS-AM in Burlington, Iowa, said he has heard no complaints about giving Forbes a platform for his thoughts.
``Mostly the programming we have is people giving their opinion, and it fits right in,″ Williams said.
He added that if and when Forbes declares himself a candidate, ``He’s out of this particular job.″