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By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Friday, October 23, 2015
Herman Cain, a business executive and radio host, was on top of the Republican presidential polls exactly four years ago, positioned as a straight-shooting outsider. His perch wouldn't last and he was out of the race not too long afterwards. In early 2013, he decided to return to talk radio, replacing the retiring Neal Boortz and taking over many of his radio slots across the country. (He joined another businessman/political outsider Donald Trump at a Norcross rally on October 10.)
Talk show radio listeners are a loyal bunch and it takes time for them to get used to newcomers. But in Atlanta, Cain had already hosted an evening show at WSB before his presidential run and was a household name nationwide by 2013. So his no bull approach to talk radio packed with "news nuggets" resonated with Boortz's fans and new ones as well.
Cain is heard locally on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays and 150 other radio stations nationwide. (WSB and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution are both part of Cox Media Group.)
I caught up with Cain for a few minutes moments after WSB won best news/talk station at the National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Awards in downtown Atlanta earlier this month. Here are excerpts from our brief talk:
Q: How has things been going with your show? Did you have any trepidation jumping in for Neal?
Cain: My only trepidation about getting back into radio is it's a job. It's a responsibility. Five days a week, you have to be behind that microphone a certain time. Now that was the only trepidation. That being said, I have been doing this for two years, nine months. I love, love, love it. The callers when they say they are learning something and getting something out of it and keeping their eyes open, that's the greatest reward quite frankly doing the show every day. I have a great team, couldn't do it without a great team.
Q: How many stations are you on now?
Cain: About 150. I absolutely love it.
Q: Did you hold most of Boortz's stations?
Cain: Yes. In fact, when I first went on, it went all the way down to 80. So we picked up another 70 in that period of time.
[He was interrupted by a fan, who asked him if they could kick Trump out and put him back in the race. Cain laughed and said, "I got to see how he's going to do."]
Q: How are you enjoying the 2016 presidential race so far having lived through it yourself?
Cain: I didn't think I'd have anything to talk about. Hah! I talk about it every day - every day! That's why we have a whole segment every day about the presidential race because never before in my life I've seen interest in the presidential race start so early with so many people wanting to see things unfold.
Q: Are you almost trying not to overdo talking about Trump?
Cain: I take it as it comes. If he's in the news, if he releases a plan, I talk about it. But here's what I do with all the candidates. If someone is lied on, I set the record straight. They have tried to distort Ben Carson's comments about Muslims. I set the record straight. He didn't say he wants to change the Constitution. They lied on Carly Fiorina. They lied on Trump. Just about all of them.
Q: As a businessman, do you feel a connection with Donald and Carly?
Cain: Absolutely. Because I know in order for them to be successful, they have to be good problem solvers. That's what it was. I was a problem solver. I know Ben. He's one of the most respected, smartest people on the planet. But that's why I am waiting to see how things shake out. It's too early. Who do you think is going to be the one? I pick six on my website.
Q: Like the lottery! Who are your six?
Cain: Carson, Fiorina, Trump. [Marco] Rubio. Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee.
Q: Bush is not in the top six!
Cain: I picked my pick six right after the first debate... I haven't changed it. Now Huckabee is on the bubble. He's not getting any traction.
Q: Is this similar to [Rick] Santorum? Maybe people are tired of him after considering him in 2012.
Cain: Yes. For different reasons. The reason I don't want to pick one: politics is fickle.
Q: You know. You were the hot man for six weeks!
Cain: If the media gets on a frenzy, true or false, it could make or break you. That's what's happening. I fight it every day on my show. Okay, here's what they said. This is what is true and not true. I just want you to make an informed decision as a voter. You can't trust the soundbites in order to get a true perspective on any given candidate.
Q: Most people aren't paying that close attention at the moment.
Cain: They'll change on a dime. One day this, one day another, based on a soundbite. You shouldn't do that. They will pay attention more in January, which is why we will continue to talk about this stuff.
Q: How much longer do you want to do radio?
Cain: I'm energized to do this all the way through the 2016 election. There is so much to do before then.
Q: That would be equal to a presidential term on the radio for you.
Cain: It would be four years. I could have been president for four years or radio for four years. [Laughter.]
Q: What's worse: dealing with Putin or your radio boss?
Cain: If I were president, Putin wouldn't have pulled that crap! Most presidents who are respected in the world, they wouldn't have had that problem. That's the problem.
Q: You think Obama is perceived as a softy?
Cain: Yup! Yup! He certainly is.
Q: We still have a year and and four months left before Obama leaves office.
Cain: I'm counting the days!