Starting a new job is never easy. But judging from your first two days as a WRKO-AM talking head, your adjustment could be more challenging than most. Don’t despair, however; as soon as you’ve kicked a few nasty little habits, you’ll be a whole lot easier on the ears. My suggestions:
BE BRAVER During Monday’s debut, you landed former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe as a guest. Nice work. Unfortunately, while you happily dissected McAuliffe’s pro-Hillary spiel with guest host Holly Robichaud afterward, you treated him with kid gloves during his interview. Then, on Tuesday, you gave Boston mayor Tom Menino an on-air tongue bath that would have made Charlie Rose blush. This stuff might fly at the State House, but it makes for some boring-ass radio. Pick some fights already!
TALK LESS Halfway through Monday’s show, a guy called in and said, basically, “I never thought I’d be calling in to Tom Finneran, but here I am, and I like the discussion you’re having about Iraq.” You answered with a long soliloquy: we’re all entitled to an epiphany moment; I spent 26 years in the Massachusetts legislature; I was the most conservative Democrat ever; blah blah blah. Then you tried to bring the caller into the conversation — but he’d either hung up or been cutoff. Yeah, you’re the star attraction, but unless Entercom is paying you by the word, some verbal economy would be nice. Also, it’s actually okay to have a moment of silence every now and then.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK During your first interview, you asked the Globe’s Steve Bailey about Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s new president. Bailey said she was a good hire. You replied that while you didn’t know that much about her, you hoped all the excitement wasn’t just about her gender. Lame, lame answer, Tom. Faust’s hiring was huge news; if you’re going to bring it up, you’d better have something incisive to say.
GET A CO-HOST Granted, this is out of your hands a bit. But as a radio neophyte, you don’t need a revolving door of on-air compadres, no matter what Jason Wolfe and Julie Kahn may be telling you. You need a regular sidekick who can teach you the craft and become an effective sparring partner. Jim Braude would have been nice, but that’s not happening; now you’ve got to pressure the Entercom brass until they find you a good co-host.
Think it over, and good luck . . .