Former Providence, R.I., Mayor Out of Prison, Returning to Radio

Former Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, who was freed from federal custody last month after serving more than four years in prison for corruption, will return to the radio as a talk-show host.

Cianci made the announcement Thursday morning on WPRO-AM, where he hosted a show for several months in 2002 before starting his prison term, to announce that he would join the radio station's lineup next month. He will debut on Sept. 20, the station said.

"What I'd like to do is join in the public conversation, join in the public discourse about issues that face the city and state," Cianci said, calling his return to the airwaves a "wonderful, wonderful opportunity for me."

WPRO did not immediately announce what time slot Cianci would occupy, but said the four other talk show hosts who appear on-air — including the syndicated Rush Limbaugh — would remain with the station.

"Buddy Cianci has a tremendous personality and extensive knowledge of Rhode Island," WPRO general manager Barbara Haynes said in a news release announcing Cianci's show.

Chatting with WPRO host Ron St. Pierre, a close friend, Cianci promised a "provocative" and positive show and said he would be different from other talk show hosts around the country whom he characterized as "evil," negative and pushing their own agendas.

"I don't have an agenda. I'm out of politics," Cianci said. "But I think I have some experience being in public office for so long, that I think I can ask the right questions and not be part of the problem but hope to be part of the solution."

The terms of Cianci's deal are being kept confidential, WPRO program director Paul Giammarco said.

Cianci, the city's longest-serving mayor, was convicted in 2002 of a single count of racketeering conspiracy for presiding over what prosecutors portrayed as rampant corruption at City Hall. He served as mayor for more than 20 years — over two separate stints.

He spent more than four years at a federal prison in Fort Dix, N.J., before being released in May to a halfway house. He then moved to home confinement at his nephew's house in East Greenwich.

After his electronic ankle monitoring bracelet was removed last month, signaling his release from federal custody, Cianci celebrated with a lunch in the city's Italian neighborhood and then appeared the following night at a WaterFire event in downtown Providence.

Cianci said Thursday he hoped politicians would not avoid appearing on his show because of his checkered past. But he noted, "You have to expect that some of them will say, 'No, I don't want to go because of his past or because of some other political consideration."'

Cianci has a long relationship with talk radio. He began hosting a show on a rival radio station, WHJJ-AM, after he was forced to resign as mayor in 1984 following his no contest plea to assaulting a man he believed was having an affair with his estranged wife.

He was subsequently re-elected in 1990 and made frequent appearances on Don Imus's radio show, even appearing as a guest during his corruption 1trial.

Cianci told The Block Island Times, in an interview being published on Friday, that he was working on a book that will be published shortly.

"I think it's an interesting story," Cianci said of his life.

The new radio gig brings Cianci to the same station as John DePetro, the morning show host who was a vocal and harsh critic of Cianci during his time in office. On Thursday, DePetro sounded a more conciliatory tone on air, calling the announcement "certainly, without question, the news of the day."

"Let the excitement begin," DePetro said.