Cleary Is Back

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Former Nightline host says NDP candidacy not an issue

Ryan Cleary is returning to the VOCM airwaves. He will serve as substitute host for Bill Rowe, host of Backtalk, for the month of July. Cleary announced this when he appeared briefly on the Wednesday afternoon edition of Backtalk.

I recorded the discussion Cleary had with Rowe. Heres a transcript:

Rowe: When we heard you would be substituting for us for the month of July, we were delighted.

Cleary: Thanks Bill. I have to say, its great to be back and its good to be back during the summer, too. The audience is that much bigger, everybody is coming home, all the tourists are here, its a great audience and theres lots to talk about.

Rowe: When you went on to other things after Nightline, a lot of people were calling up, calling the control room, calling me on the air, stopping me on the street, to say two things: when are you going to get Nightline back again, and when are you going to get Ryan Cleary back?

Cleary: Well, Nightline was tough, I have to say. I liked being host of an open line show, and I never thought Id say that, after so many years in the newspaper business, the publication business. But I did like being a traffic controller on the VOCM airwaves. And so its fabulous to be back, and its a privilege too to be filling in for you, Bill. But to be honest, Im glad youre going. Ive heard you say this on the radio over the last few days, that you are going back at your book, due out this fall. I dont know if listeners know this or not, but when I was editor at The Independent, you were a columnist and you wrote a weekly column which was basically a work in progress on the book thats coming out this fall, and so I have read all your work, I have edited your work, and its fabulous. I really look forward to it.

Rowe: There were a number of excerpts from the work in progress that are now being compiled into a full length book. Yes, that was great, I really enjoyed doing that, for sure. It is great to have you back. When I mentioned I was going to introduce who was going to be guest hosting for the month of July, I said I am going to ask him a hard question, too.

Cleary: And I expect nothing less from you, Bill.

Rowe: What about people who say, Ryan Cleary, isnt he the NDP candidate for the federal election that is coming up? What do you say to that?

Cleary: Well, the quick answer is, yes, I am the candidate for St. Johns South Mount Pearl, for the New Democrats. And when I had my meeting with VOCM about me coming back, that was the first thing I brought up, the fact that I was a candidate, and how would that go over? And one of the responses I had was, even if I stepped aside from that candidacy, people would still see me as a New Democrat. All I can say to people is that I spent a lot of years, all my working life in journalism, and the key to being a good journalist is getting both sides of a story. If I put my opinion out there, theres got to be room for another opinion, and I will be as balanced as I can be, Ill be as balanced as Im trained to be, in getting both sides of any issue out, so Im not tagged as being so-and-so and cant listen to that opinion because hes biased, that sort of thing.

Rowe: Well, thats great. And when the question was put to me that you were the NDP candidate, I said, so what? A conflict of interest or something like that is only a problem if its not disclosed. If everyone knows youre the NDP candidate, everyone knows Randy Simms is Mayor of Mount Pearl, everyone knows that I was a Liberal member of the House of Assembly and represented a Tory premier in Ottawa for a period of time. So anyone who has done anything interesting in life has all kinds of things in their background. You are an example of that with your candidacy for the NDP and more power to you and maybe youll get some rip-roarin arguments going.

Cleary: Oh, take it to the bank. I do look forward to coming back. I start on Monday. For the past seven or eight months now, since I left VOCM the last time, I started my own blog. I am big into online journalism, and where that is going in the future. And if anybody reads my blog its called fishermansroad.blogspot.com - they will see that I dont speak for the new Democrats, I speak for myself and I speak for Newfoundland and Labrador. Thats the one thing about me, too, Bill, I always put this province first I always put Newfoundland and Labrador first. Family first, and then close second, because Newfoundland and Labrador is family.

Rowe: Well, thats great and Im delighted that you are able to spring the time loose from your busy schedule to spend a number of weeks on Backtalk as host, Ryan. I look forward to that. Youre going to be starting on Monday. You are here today to see the lie of the land and make sure you know what buttons to push. Do you know what buttons to push?

Cleary: Well, between you and Pat (Murphy) Im in good hands, I have to say. Its like riding a bike it comes back quick.

At this point, Rowe praises the support Cleary can expect from the producer, thanks Cleary for coming in, then signs off.

So, what do you think about this development?

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  • Craig
    July 27, 2010 - 14:54

    Geoff, I think it's great that Cleary is back with VOCM. He's a bluff and a blowhard and a drama queen, but an entertaining one. He makes for good radio.

    We have to get over this foolishness that politics and journalism cannot mix. The rest of the world, particularly media centres like Washington, Ottawa and London, don't see it that way because it's too silly to countenance.

    As long as a person's biases and conflicts are known and understood up front, there's no valid reason from prohibiting or limiting that person from participating in the public discourse. In fact, such biases only enrich the debate.

    The only place where journalism should be completely objective and bias-free is at the public broadcaster.

    Thanks,
    Craig Westcott
    Editor
    The Business Post