Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Doug Ford, hit air on News Talk 1010
Orson Welles gave us The War of the Worlds, spawning panic in the streets with many radio listeners actually believing a Martian invasion was in progression.
Brothers Ford, I thought, would give us The War of the Words and . . . zzzzz.
I’d say don’t give up your day job, guys, except rather wish they would.
Mayor Rob and Councillor Doug took to the airwaves on Sunday afternoon as debut co-hosts of The City on News Talk 1010, two hours of palaver mostly political, decidedly partisan and numbingly pffft.
Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck they ain’t, if hysterical right-wing rhetoric had been anticipated, a talk-radio format that doesn’t really have much traction in this country, despite the stable of conservative mike jockeys who regularly ply their pontificating trade on CFRB.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with a mayor afforded a platform to speak directly with citizens or musing and mulling on the state of the municipal commonwealth. There’s no evidence, as some have charged, that the station was coerced into providing this chat forum for the Fords. But, oh my, polite radio is dull radio. Where were all the furious anti-Ford callers whose objections to this regime are so often on display in, say, the letters page of the Toronto Star? Perhaps they were listening to the CBC.
Surely the Ford-blows brigade hadn’t been filtered out by producers? The only mildly confrontational question came from Marianne in Scarborough who wondered when Toronto would see dollar-crunching financial specs for those subways that the Fords continue to adamantly promote over light-rail transit, a mantra well received by many of us who rely on public transportation but please, somebody, show me the money.
Predictably, mostly the subject between 1 and 3 p.m. was subways . . . and subways and subways. I’m so sick of the topic I get nauseous when just walking past Subways. There is nothing new to report; there’s been nothing new to analyze on that track since Ford took office because he hasn’t presented a cogent plan for funding an underground alternative to the LRT option recently resurrected by council and, thus far, no reason to take seriously Mayor Ford’s warning, delivered on air Sunday, that the premier would be committing “political suicide” by not backing his subway “plan.” What plan? There is no plan. That’s the dilemma.
Naturally, Ford’s first guest on the show was interim TTC chairman Andy Byford — insert impressive resumé here — who assured patrons that the refurbishment of all station washrooms would be completed by June. This is welcome news for those of us so often confronted by Not In Use signs or loos just this side of Calcutta squats in de-crap-itude, yet hardly the stuff of vision. Beijing has built 13 new subway lines in the past decade. Flashy underground networks have been constructed from Dubai to Santo Domingo and we’re boasting about tidied-up bathrooms.
I think Giorgio Mammoliti came on next for some Ford flummery but the force shield around my brain that deflects all Mammoliti bilge flipped into self-protect mode and I tuned out to do the New York Times crossword puzzle until the intro to ex-Leafs captain Wendel Clark, Doug Ford observing “Wendel is like Rob because they both like to get in the corners.” Jesus wept.
When all else fails, hockey chatter bails. Yet with the clock ticking down on Monday’s trade deadline and the Leafs mired in a 1-7-1 slump, playoffs slipping away, Mayor Ford could summon only a limp “little bit concerned about the Leafs recently” before urging GM Brian Burke to “pull the trigger” on a deal. He’s as vague about fixing the Leafs as he is about financing subways. Certainly more restrained, was Ford, than that time he got escorted out of the Air Canada Centre during a Leafs game for drunkenly shouting obscenities at a woman, telling her to “go to Iran and get raped and shot.” I’m just saying.
A Brother David spoke about good works, we heard about the charitable event Doug Ford had attended Saturday night and then were made privy to Mayor Ford’s out-and-about itinerary for the coming week, including attendance at the premiere of stage play War Horse. See, he does so got culture, not a philistine of the arts at all.
Two hours later — two hours of my life that I will never get back — the Ford & Ford show was mercifully over. I switched back to The Fan where at least the phone-in callers — Mikhail Grabovski and Nazem Kadri for Rick Nash! — are certifiably deranged.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday