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Meet the Vince Coakley you don't know

By Mark Washburn
mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com

For 18 years at WSOC (Channel 9), Vince Coakley kept his opinions to himself.

No more.

Beginning Monday, Coakley takes over the afternoon drive shift at WBT-AM (1110). And he's got some things to say.

On the president:

"I have never been a fan of Barack Obama. I believe there is real danger over where this man is coming from and where he's taking us. ...

"I don't think we often elect whole people. Very often, we're putting broken people in office. People with incomplete childhoods and people who often haven't left adolescence. I think Washington is overrun with people who never left adolescence. I think he's one of them.

"On the personal level, I'm worried for him. But on a national level, I'm concerned for all of us."

On politicians in general:

"They have to get positions to empower themselves. Basically, they're using people to find a place of fulfillment. And as long as they're doing that, they're not serving us.

"I think there's a definition of public servants as people who serve themselves in public. We need more servants, fewer politicians. That's part of what I hope to get people to think about.

"If I'm sending someone to Washington, I want to know there's red, white and blue in their blood."

On his own place in the political spectrum:

"I refer to myself as a conservative. I think the importance of that label is more about values than about a party. I would define myself as one who believes in the politics of common sense."

Coakley, 46, who lives with his wife and four children in Charlotte, is widely known for his spiritual activism. His show is not going to be about current issues, not his religious beliefs, but he acknowledges his personal values will have an impact, perhaps in a way some will find surprising.

"I have a friend who says all the time that he does not feel compelled to be more compassionate than Jesus," Coakley says. "Jesus not only raised the dead and fed 5,000, but he chased money changers out of the temple and called authorities unkind names."

Coakley says he doesn't intend to insult callers or cut them off when their views are contrary to his. People are getting tired of talk radio tactics like that, he says.

"My relationship with God is a foundation for all that I am and all that I do and it's going to have an impact on how I manage the program, on the ways I engage with people. I intend to be respectful. Obviously, they're not always going to agree with me. If they're offended, I hope they're offended by the information, not by the way I treat them."

Coakley fills the spot vacated in May by Tara Servatius, whose contract wasn't renewed by WBT's parent company, Massachusetts-based Greater Media. Servatius joined WBT as a late-night host in June 2007 and replaced Jeff Katz in the afternoon slot when he left in December 2008.

Coakley, a native of Cincinnati, was a longtime presence at Channel 9 and succeeded Bill Walker as a prime anchor in 2005. In August 2010, he left the station.

Afternoon drive is generally the most listened-to part of the day on radio, particularly during the 5 p.m. rush hour. With Coakley, WBT is looking to add traction in the afternoons, where it currently ranks No. 8 among radio stations in the Charlotte area. In its target demographic - men aged 35 to 65 - WBT ranks No. 7 in the time period.

Media Movers

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, who has been a reporter at News 14 Carolina for two years, is departing to take a job at a Nashville, Tenn., station ... Randy Wardell joins WSOC (Channel 9) in August as executive news producer from a Cox Media Group sister station in Orlando, Fla. ...

NASCAR drivers Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Joey Lagano and Brian Vickers have guest roles in the season premiere of "The Glades" 10 p.m. Sunday on A&E in an episode about a motor-sports murder. ... Charlotte's gold rush days and its transformation to financial center are part of "How the States Got Their Names" with Brian Unger, 10 p.m. Tuesday, History Channel, in an episode about how money shaped the nation's map. ...

Anniversary of note: WHVN ("Heaven Radio," 1240 AM and 104.3 FM) is marking 40 years, all spent with the same Christian format. ...

Joining Davidson's classical WDAV-FM (89.9) as midday announcer is Matt Rogers , a Gastonia native who most recently worked at the public radio station in Blacksburg, Va. He replaces Jennifer Foster, who left in December. Also at WDAV, J. Rodger Clark comes aboard as director of development from the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007; mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com
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