BOSTON – A radio station plans to audition Don Imus' ex-sidekick to co-host a fallen politician's morning talk show, which is suffering from sagging ratings.
Bernard McGuirk will audition live on WRKO-AM's "Finneran's Forum" next Wednesday through Friday, station officials said. He is the "Imus in the Morning" producer and on-air jester who took part in the exchange of racist banter that led to his and Imus' dismissal last month.
He will be teaming up with former state House Speaker Tom Finneran, who was the most powerful lawmaker in Massachusetts until he resigned from the Legislature in 2004 amid a federal investigation.
Finneran began his news and politics talk show in February, a few weeks after he pleaded guilty to obstructing justice for lying about his role in a redistricting plan that diluted the clout of minority voters. He was fined and put on 18 months' probation.
Finneran said he was looking forward to working with McGuirk.
"I'm determined to make sure the show is entertaining, and Bernard's record is pretty clear. He's a talented guy," Finneran said.
Offensive language will be off limits, Finneran said.
In the April 4 on-air exchange, McGuirk first called the Rutgers University women's basketball team "hard-core hos." In response, Imus called the women "nappy-headed hos." Both were eventually fired from the nationally syndicated show, which combined political discussion and comic banter and was also televised on MSNBC.
Jason Wolfe, WRKO's vice president of AM programming and operations, called McGuirk "entertaining, very witty. That, in combination with the intelligence-slash-wit of Finneran, could be interesting."
"The past's the past. It's over. It does not take away from the fact that he's extremely talented," Wolfe said Friday. "He's going to be presenting himself in a very different way than he was on the other show, because on the other show his role was different."
McGuirk could not be reached for comment; no phone listing for him could be found in the New York area.
WRKO, owned by Entercom Communications Corp., has dropped to ninth overall in the critical drive-time ratings for the January-March time slot this year, down from seventh last year, according to Arbitron. In November, host John DePetro and his engineer were fired after DePetro referred to a former Green/Rainbow gubernatorial candidate as "a fat lesbian."