Radio gig could lead to political rebirth of former Charlotte mayor Patrick Cannon

Patrick Cannon during a Mayor Forum held at UNCC Center City building on Oct. 23,2013.
Patrick Cannon during a Mayor Forum held at UNCC Center City building on Oct. 23,2013. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon has a new talk-show job. Could it be the first step in his return to local politics?

Cannon, who was released from federal prison in September after taking a series of bribes from undercover FBI officers four years ago end, will host “At The Table with Cannon” every Saturday at 9 a.m. on Old School 105.3, the station tweeted on Wednesday.

Cannon could not be reached for comment Wednesday. But on his Facebook page, the first ever Charlotte mayor sent to prison informed his 5,000 friends about his new job. Cannon, 50, also said he is “Looking forward to the opportunity of engaging with the community locally and abroad. Jeremiah 29:11 If another chance at anything is provided to you, stay up, stay strong, stay faithful and stay true.”

The radio station said in a statement that Cannon’s show will produce a “high community impact and thought provoking programming,” and will cover a wide range of topics, including the streets, churches and businesses.

According to the station’s website, Cannon has appeared on air several times in the past.

“I believe that Pat’s experience and story of tragedy to triumphant will be impactful and I’m pleased that Old School 105.3 can offer him the platform to do so,” said Doug James, vice president and general manager of Radio One Charlotte, in the statement.

Cannon, who lives in Ballantyne, began his two years of supervised release on Jan. 25, when he became an ex-convict.

After 20 years on the Charlotte City Council, Cannon was elected mayor in November 2013. He was arrested four months into his term, and resigned as mayor the same day.

Lynn Wheeler, Cannon’s former colleague on the council, said she was surprised by the announcement but happy for her longtime friend.

“I am delighted that Patrick has found an avenue back into the public realm,” she said. “He’s very smart. He’s articulate, and he has a grasp of many issues that would interest the public.”

Asked if she thought Cannon’s new foray will eventually lead to an attempted try at elected office, Wheeler replied, “Would not surprise me in the least.”

Cannon’s probation ends in 2019, when his right to vote – and run for elected office – returns. That’s also a city council election year.

In his plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Cannon acknowledged pocketing some $50,000 in bribes from undercover agents posing as out-of-town real estate investors.

He served slightly more than half of his 44-month sentence.

It’s unclear if Cannon’s new radio show helps him meet an important requirement. As part of his release, Cannon has to be employed.

“He can’t just be Patrick Cannon,” Greg Forest, retired chief of the federal probation office in Charlotte, said last summer. “He has to get a job.”

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS