For three years, the Lehigh Valley has had a pretty popular talk radio program on WGPA Sunny 1100 AM. The show broadcasts Monday through Thursday between 8 and 9 AM, and is hosted by the always controversial Ron Angle. Yep, he's the County Councilman. Ron's loud, obnoxious, insensitive, and uses horrible grammar. He's also funny, intelligent, and much more moderate than he pretends. Some call him a populist: others a demagogue. Take your pick. Personally, I like the guy. I can't help it.
Angle's show was one that always got better. As a councilman, he used inside connections to break stories. He attracted loads of local pols from both sides of the aisle, from Charlie Dent to John Stoffa. The Morning Call's Bill White occasionally dropped by, usually after kicking Ron around in one of his columns. His callers have included Lisa Boscola, Snarlin' Arlen, Joe Long and this strange dude from Harrisburg named Bernie Kieklak. But you didn't have to be a somebody to call in. Anyone with a beef could express it. I listened as state reps Rich Grucela and Joe Brennan talked with taxpayers about state house reform, and Northampton County employees had an opportunity to vent their frustrations with county exec Stoffa.
It's been an informative show, and Angle occasionally surrendered the reigns to me as guest host. I usually brought in state reps like Rich Grucela and Joe Brennan because they're both so personable and humorous that all I had to do was answer the phone. I did get in big trouble once - when my guest was Ramona Africa. Alright, twice. I managed to rig a George Bush speech to make him sound even goofier than he does on his own, hard as that may be to believe. A lot of listeners took it seriously, and were outraged to learn I was spoofing them. Alright, I was in trouble pretty much every time I did his show. Who am I kidding?
Was it a great show? No. Goofy sound effects and dreary music prevented that from happening, and Angle can be unfair to callers. But it was local, informative, and the best political talk you'd hear in the Lehigh Valley.
Angle was at his best when he'd bring on an underfunded candidate trying to get a message out to voters, whether it was Russ Shade on the left or Bonnie Dodge on the right. And Angle condemned and called very public attention to a few of the many smear campaigns orchestrated by campaign consultant Tom Severson at Precision Marketing.
Today, that show comes to an end.
Polka King Jolly Joe Timmer and Angle have been feuding for nearly two years. Angle's salary was first cut, then eliminated. His air time was reduced from two hours to one. Engineer Mark Thomas, under Timmer's instructions, has also been running a repeater every time Angle strays into dangerous territory. If you know Ron, you know the station burned out a few. They made Ron sound like a gerbil. Even Angle's sponsors were subjected to that treatment.
Thomas lied about censoring Angle for weeks, even to me, but finally fessed up yesterday.
Today, when the show ends, we all lose. No other forum offered such easy access to local leaders. I know a lot of you hate the guy. He inspires that type of reaction. And he'll be the first to admit his own shortcomings. But in the end, he always stood up for the little guy. That makes him a small d democrat in my book, and that means more to me than party affiliation.