By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Finneran gives up lobbying

I’m pleasantly surprised that Tom Finneran chose to keep his radio talk show over lobbying. I had figured we’d be hearing any day that he was leaving WRKO. Good for him — although I don’t understand how he ever thought he could ethically do both.

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  1. Anonymous

    I’m not sure which perspective I should look at this from. Shoulds I be happy that ‘RKO showed some level of ethics or principles in the case by requiring that its on air talent adhere to some standard of behavior? Should I wonder why they bothered with Finneran, a weak link in the ‘RKO stable of programs, and just didn’t use the issue to dump him? Should I wonder about Finneran’s circumstances, given that his radio gig is weak, that led him to knuckle under and obey the rules to stay there when lobbying is so much more lucrative?

  2. Anonymous

    I don’t understand how he ever thought he could ethically do both.Hahahahahaha. Sometimes you really crack me up.

  3. Peter Porcupine

    DK – as I said when the issue first came up, Finneran isn’t a journalist in the way you describe. I did think it wrong to cede as large a topic as State Police to things which couldn’t be ethically discussed, and I am pleased that won’t happen.And about lobbyists. ‘In the building’, lobbyists aren’t the satanic figures the public thinks of. They are often useful conduits of information on obscure topics. Jim Wallace of GOAL, for example, is a lobbyist for second amendment issues, but if an ordinary legislator needed a source for practical information on ceramic guns – Jim is probably the first person called. The habitual use of lobbyist expertise is probably why Finneran didn’t see it as an issue.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    PP: You write, “as I said when the issue first came up, Finneran isn’t a journalist in the way you describe.”But here’s what I wrote: “Yes, I understand that the ethical standards for talk-show hosts are different from those of journalists…. But there are areas where the ethics of these two very different media jobs coincide, and this is one of them.”I didn’t describe Finneran as a journalist.

  5. Jim

    Yeah, but … Talk-show hosts not only aren’t journalists, they aren’t anything but entertainers. Think locally: Is Severin some sort of unbiased critic? Nope; he’s got a huge man-crush on Mitt Romney, whose every hair is perfectly aligned by brilliant strategic planning. Is Rush Limbaugh, to take another flatlined example, an unbiased critic? Nope; he’s heart-and-dark-soul part of the rightest of the right of the GOP. And not to sound biased, but the folks on Air America – wow, can’t even remember their names – Rachelsomething, maybe? – giving us the straight-up assessment of Republican policies?Radio hosts are overwhelmingly people with big fat axes to grind. OK, their opinions aren’t always formally “bought” by someone; if that’s the only standard, then I guess most talk hosts are shining pillars of ethics and even-handednesss. But they are not fair-minded triers or purveyors of fact; they’re proto-bloggers, all opinion and no reporting (present company of course in the tiny minority of blogdom). Does the fact that Finneran gets a check from the staties make him or or less likely to lavish praise on them on air? And at least we’d have full disclosure, for what that’s worth, if anyone but a few of us even care.None of which is to say I’d listen to him more than the once I did; honestly, the sound of morning traffic on McGrath Highway is more interesting. But still: Are entertainers expected to be ethical? And Finneran is now no more than an entertainer. Let him pick up some endorsement money, like Justin Timberlake for Diet Pepsi. Poor fella has lawyers to pay.

  6. O-FISH-L

    I think the cure here is worse than the disease. I’d much rather have Finneran as a registered lobbyist than an unregistered one. Finneran’s planned lobbying partner is / was his longtime law partner Jimmy Byrne. I’m guessing that Byrne will continue to lobby, no?Obviously, even though Finneran has backed off, the Byrne firm will still have his tacit weight behind it, and Finneran will be able to profess his opinions on the air and at private dinners, golf outings etc. with his former colleagues without ever having to disclose it. Although not a lobbyist, he never ceases to be a citizen with the right to express his opinions in public and private.Of course Finneran will never take a check, but Byrne will. We’ll never know what happens after that.As Finneran nemesis Howie likes to say, “Nothing’s on the level, everything’s a deal, no deal’s too small.”

  7. Aaron Read

    I think the problem here is less ethics (although those are very relevant) and more about crappy radio programming. As long as Finneran thinks he can be a lobbyist in ANY form, it WILL impact his performance on his show…negatively, too. He won’t go after certain people and he won’t say certain things, for risk of offending someone he might someday want something from. That’s a recipe for bland, boring radio, and it’s a shining example of why Finneran – in his current form – doesn’t belong on the radio. Sorry Mr. Speakah, if you’re not will to burn some bridges and dish some dirt, then you’re not going to get any listeners. Pick a career and run with it already!

  8. All Roger, All the Time

    I wish Finneran had stuck with lobbying and left radio. I’ve been an RKO morning listener since Blute, but I’ve switched to a WEEI/NPR combo. Can’t stand Tom blathering or his constant defense of everyone and everything associated with a government paycheck.

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