Blagojevich Fills In As Radio Host as Criminal Case Heats Up

CHICAGO  -- Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich certainly isn't acting like a man staring down a federal corruption indictment that could come any day.

Whether promoting his book deal or slamming the man who replaced him, the ousted governor hasn't stopped seeking the spotlight. His latest publicity-seeking move: a one-day gig as a Chicago radio talk show host.

Blagojevich told listeners that he was "hijacked" from office during his two-hour gig hosting Wednesday's "Don Wade & Roma Morning Show" on Chicago's WLS-AM

Lawmakers removed Blagojevich from office in January after his arrest on federal corruption charges. He's denied any wrongdoing.

The federal charges are still pending. Blagojevich hinted at his legal problems on air, saying he has some challenges ahead but that he trusts in the truth.

Blagojevich also took a moment to plug the book he's writing, but admitted it isn't coming easily. He joked about only being a few pages into it.

Blagojevich's attention-getting ways are enough to make a lawyer cringe.

"I would just lay low and keep my mouth shut. That's the legally prudent thing to do," said Chicago attorney John Beal, who doesn't represent Blagojevich.

The former governor, who was impeached and removed from office following his arrest on federal corruption charges, denies any wrongdoing and refuses to fade quietly into private life. The Chicago Democrat hit the national talk show television circuit days before being bounced from office.

"It's not part of his human nature to just sit back, hide in the corner and not do anything," said his publicist, Glenn Selig. "He likes being out and about."

Blagojevich's hosting duty comes as his criminal case is poised to heat up. Federal prosecutors have less than two weeks to obtain a grand jury indictment or seek more time.

Blagojevich, who previously has been a guest on the radio show, will take calls from listeners, tell stories and talk with guests from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m. The station had offered Blagojevich his own weekend show in January if he resigned as governor. He didn't quit and he didn't get the show.

Newly retained Blagojevich attorney Terence P. Gillespie declined to discuss his client's plan.

"I think at this point, I won't comment on what my advice to the governor was and whether he accepted it or not," Gillespie said Tuesday evening.

Gillespie said earlier that Blagojevich's defense team was "still in flux" after his former chief defense counsel quit in January. Edward M. Genson had hinted that Blagojevich didn't listen to him.

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald has until April 7 for a federal grand jury to indict Blagojevich, but it's possible his office could seek a deadline extension. Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on corruption charges that accused him of, among other things, trying to sell President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat.

In recent weeks Blagojevich has blasted Gov. Pat Quinn --  the lieutenant governor before his ouster --  for proposing an income tax increase. He has also called state lawmakers drunkards and adulterers who don't know how to do their jobs.

It's anyone's guess what he'll say when he has the radio mike to himself.

He has at least one good reason to seek publicity. He has a book due out in October and attention --  good or bad -- can drive sales. Selig, his publicist, has promised that the book will expose the seamier side of politics.

"He just has to be out there to keep his name alive," said DePaul University marketing professor Bruce Newman.

But Blagojevich also must be careful.

"Anything that's broadcast over the air can be subpoenaed and used against you at trial. ... They're trying to put him in prison for a long time so the stakes are very high," noted Beal, the attorney not involved in Blagojevich's case.

Blagojevich could face other pitfalls as a talk radio novice, said Hope Daniels, an associate professor in the radio department at Chicago's Columbia College.

"He has to allow his guests to actually speak and not speak for his guests," Daniels said.

Selig said Blagojevich has done his homework.

"This is an opportunity for him to get into some dialogues with people, have a good time, have fun and sort of be out there," Selig said.