Could an O'Malley-Ehrlich contest launch radio war?

By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 25, 2010; 11:31 AM

"The Kendel and Bob Show" has become a Saturday morning fixture on conservative talk radio, offering Maryland's former first lady and former Republican governor a weekly forum to share their thoughts on everything from international affairs to more domestic matters, like the number of towels Bob uses after showering.

Could "The Katie and Martin Show" soon be airing on the same station?

Probably not. But it's one of several ideas that have been kicked around by WBAL radio programmers in the likely event that Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announces next month that he wants a rematch with the husband of Maryland's current first lady, Katie O'Malley.

Ed Kiernan, general manager of Baltimore's WBAL, said he would like to keep the Ehrlichs on the air as long as possible and has asked some "terrific lawyers" to look at the station's options for complying with the Federal Communication Commission's equal time rule should Bob decide to run.

The former governor wouldn't necessarily have to come off the air, Kiernan said. An alternative would be offering the same opportunity to Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and other Ehrlich opponents. Yet another possibility: letting Kendel fly solo on the two-hour show.

"My goal would be to try to keep the show on the air, because they're doing a great job," Kiernan said. "I guess we'll cross this bridge when we get to it."

Bob Ehrlich is hardly waiting for dueling shows to start dueling with O'Malley.

When the Ehrlichs launched their radio show in 2007, they rarely mentioned O'Malley by name. And they still talk about national issues as much as Maryland politics. Much of last week's show was devoted to a discussion of Sarah Palin's presidential prospects.

But in recent weeks, the former governor has stepped up his criticism of the current governor and other Democrats in Annapolis -- accusing them, for example, of plotting "a gigantic tax increase" after the November election.

Ehrlich also recently mocked O'Malley's use of "soaring rhetoric" in his speeches, saying: "I just don't believe that his style speaks to the average Marylander."

Though Ehrlich has not announced that he is running, the topic does come up.

A few Saturdays ago, a caller named "Dennis" told the former first couple that he has a "Bring Back Ehrlich" bumper sticker on his car and suggested that Bob consider Kendel as his running mate.

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