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Former Governor David Paterson Gets a ‘Surprise’ as WOR Afternoon Host

From the statehouse to the studio. 

Former Governor David Paterson, who had been a frequent fill-in for morning man John Gambling, takes over the slot on a regular basis starting next week.

Unlike his predecessor, though, Paterson’s show will not be heard nationally on the WOR Radio Network.

“They don’t want me to worry about everything being national,” Paterson tells FishbowlNY. “They want me to start out being local. That’s kind of a debate that’s going back and forth between them.”

While Paterson would certainly welcome the larger listenership, he’s happy to focus on what he knows best.

“Rather than take on the added pressure of trying to be interesting to a national audience, [they want me to] start with something I know–the local audience,” Paterson admits. “That’s where my experience has been during the Gambling show.”

Paterson, who has been visually impaired since he was a baby, is proud to take this historic step. Paterson consults for the National Federation of the Blind, which has determined through research that he is the first blind person to host a show on a major radio station.

“Blind people particularly listen to a lot of radio. I don’t know a blind person that didn’t know all the radio stations,” Paterson says. “…I’m proud of it if it’s true that I’m the first, but I also feel there were a number of people who preceded me, some of them I knew, who would have been just as good but didn’t get the chance.”

Being blind has not been much of a barrier for Paterson in forging a life in broadcasting.  

“Because I was never a full-timer, when I would do the Gambling show I gave the time by looking at my cell phone,” Paterson says.  

Another time, Paterson recalls hitting a button to ask the producer who his guest on the phone was. However, the button turned his mic on over the air.

“It was the most embarrassing moment I’ve had on radio yet,” Paterson recalls. “I’m going to go in the studio and work with the engineer [who] has a plan to solve all those problems.”

Paterson’s radio career grew with additional fill-in work at WABC and WFAN. It was at WFAN that FishbowlNY sat down with the former governor in March.

At the time, he indicated a switch from doing radio just because it was something he enjoyed, to becoming more recognized for his on-air shifts.

Even though Paterson hoped his occasional radio appearances would lead to steady work somewhere, he knew it would be an uphill battle.

“Certainly there’s discussion in the industry that a lot of people who could have been good, may have started out with a weekend show, and then promote them from there,” Paterson says. “The fact that WOR would want to step right out and give me a full-time position from the very start, that did surprise me.

“But I’m going to work as hard as I can to make sure that surprise doesn’t turn to disdain.”

As we reported yesterday, Steve Malzberg has been dropped by WOR after four years hosting the 4 to 6 p.m. talk show.

As for the previous WOR afternoon host, Paterson has respect for Malzberg’s work ethic.

“He’s very prepared. He was the first radio host that I knew who used to take clips from the Sunday shows and then used them as part of the discussion,” Paterson recalls. “So he’s definitely creative.”

But he says, it is clear to the average listener that Malzberg’s show was nationally syndicated.

“Newsradio 88 and 1010 WINS [are] always in the top two or three, and I think the reason is because the people turn on the radio for the service as much as they turn on for the entertainment,” Paterson says. “So, I’m going to make sure to give the time, do traffic, do the weather, and keep it going very much like the Gambling show.  I don’t think anybody else in the afternoon does that.”

Distancing himself farther from Malzberg, Paterson will bring a calmer demeanor to the airwaves.

“One thing I’ve noticed about a lot of these shows is that the hosts have an ax to grind. “They’re always agitated at everything,” Paterson says. “That might have been a luxury that the public indulged because their anger could be entertainment. But now the public is angry.

“Who can explain to [listeners] what we have to do to get out of this, and who can bring the people on to debate that issue, rather than finding the scapegoat for it.”

Despite his political affiliation as a Democratic, Paterson says he won’t go in the opposite direction of Malzberg’s right-wing talk.

“One of the things that I think became a problem for me in government is that when it came to the economy I agreed with the conservatives,” Paterson says. “[I] was often viewed almost [as] a traitor by my colleagues. I don’ t think I abandoned my views as much as I changed them.”

Ready for the challenge of his own afternoon drive show, the former governor has no apprehensions.

“I feel no hestitation at all,” Paterson says. “I wish the show would start tomorrow. Ideas are jumping in my head.”

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