From the Baltimore Sun

Ehrlichs chat morning away on WCBM-AM
State's former first couple take calls with aplomb as they fill in for Tom Marr

By Nick Madigan
Sun Reporter

January 25, 2007

A three-hour appearance yesterday by former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and his wife, Kendel, as talk-show hosts on a Baltimore radio station became a nostalgic walk through the Ehrlich administration's accomplishments and a chance for the Ehrlichs' supporters to thank them for their service to Maryland.

"It's the Ehrlich edition of the Tom Marr Show!" the former governor said after every commercial break, naming the host who normally takes the 9 a.m.-to-noon slot on WCBM-AM.

"You're doing a good job," Kendel Ehrlich told her husband, who was elected Maryland's governor in 2002, the first Republican governor in 36 years.

"Thank you, dear," he replied, evidently enjoying himself. "By the way, who needs Tom Marr? We can do this!"

Ehrlich handled callers with ease, joking with several whom he knew and showing his flair for conversation. The former governor often appeared on radio talk shows during his tenure in Annapolis, choosing to speak directly to the electorate over airwaves.

He may make more such appearances on WCBM, said the station's general manager, Bob Pettit, who was very pleased with yesterday's show.

Much of the former first couple's time on air was spent urging supporters despondent over Ehrlich's loss in the fall election to Democrat Martin O'Malley not to abandon the state.

"Don't move out," Ehrlich said, addressing a caller who had threatened to do so. "We're hearing this way too much. We're telling people not to give up."

"There's more of us in this state than people think," Kendel Ehrlich said, referring to members of her party.

To another caller worried that Republican candidates would have a hard time gaining the state's highest office, Ehrlich said, "Hang in there. These things do go in cycles."

But, he added, "If it's a long-term trend, there is no future."

Ehrlich read an e-mail message from a listener who expressed concern about the effect on the fall election of "the African-American influx" into Baltimore County. Ehrlich replied that it "clearly changes the dynamic" in an area that "is going to be a tough county for Republicans" in the future.

"I was obviously disappointed in the county, but we could see it coming," Ehrlich said.

Several callers advised the former governor not to leave the political arena.

"We need you," several said, to which Ehrlich left the door open to a future in politics, without being specific.

When Thomas M. Davis III, a Republican representing the 11th congressional district of Virginia, called in, Kendel Ehrlich asked him what it was like to suddenly be in the minority: "Is it a bummer?"

"The Democrats have excluded us," Davis replied.

Ehrlich saw a similar dynamic in the State House. "What you see playing in Annapolis is the agenda that we were afraid of," he said.

Democracts clearly were not welcome as callers on the show. When Ehrlich, probably correctly, identified a critical caller as "one of our friends from the Democratic side," he quickly said to the engineer, "Get rid of this guy."

The show was notable for the banter between Ehrlich and his wife. Toward the end, as he was trying to make a point, she repeatedly interrupted him. Finally, he said, "Calm down, first lady." The show suddenly went dead for a couple of seconds, as though someone had hit the "cough button," used to keep unwanted audio from being broadcast.

A few minutes later, after she had interrupted him again, Ehrlich said, "The first lady is excited here."

When she started laughing as she read a weather forecast, her husband said, "She's cracking herself up."

Later, he jokingly admonished her, "I told you, you've got to make your husband look good here -- just like the last job."
Copyright © 2007, The Baltimore Sun