This is an odd one for at least two reasons.
We got a tip that this Sunday night, NextMedia oldies WHBC/1480 Canton is airing a three hour local call-in talk show, from 7-10 PM.
Not only that, the host of this evening's show may surprise you: Brady Russell.
Yes, the same Brady Russell who was let go from sister AC outlet WHBC-FM/94.1 "Mix 94.1"'s afternoon drive show just over two years ago for his on-air comments related to protesters at the second inauguration for President Bush.
Quoting Russell in the 2005 article by Canton Repository entertainment beat writer Dan Kane:
“I suggested humorously that some harm might come to some of the communists and anarchists who were protesting at the president’s inauguration,” he said.
“I fall on the conservative side of the line. It had to be someone left of center who complained.”
Sunday night is not exactly prime radio time for a local talk show. Even Akron market talker WNIR/100.1, which has an extensive local talk schedule, is not live and local on Sunday nights.
We can't help but wonder if this is an audition for a regular weekday program.
For one, we've heard all those nagging rumors we've passed along to you - that WHBC's AM side has been trying to find its way to a post-music future, and has kicked around changing its format to talk.
One obstacle, we keep hearing, is the lack of decent syndicated talk radio product on the market. Nearly all shows even remotely worth considering are tied up, many of them by Clear Channel (WHLO/640 and WARF/1350 both claim Canton rights to syndicated programs) and even by crosstown talk/religious WCER/900.
There isn't much left on the syndicated talk plate for the folks at 1480 to pick up. Perhaps the highest profile talker not cleared here in Northeast Ohio is Jones Radio's Neal Boortz, and the menu offerings look pretty slim after that.
But if they're looking to mount a talk format, presumably conservative, wouldn't bringing back a guy they let go for being too controversial in that very same vein be an interesting move?
We have no idea if there is any plan for Mr. Russell beyond tonight's show.
And so far, from the bit we've heard (WHBC's signal aims nicely north out of its nighttime transmitter location, so at least we can listen to a weak signal), he has been talking about relatively tame topics like plans for downtown Canton, and people finding jobs.
That last one is a topic Brady knows about personally - since leaving WHBC-FM two years ago, he's apparently been working at a staffing agency as his "day job".
We'll be listening, and trying to figure out more...