WPFW’s DC Politics Hour Loses a Host
After two and a half years co-hosting WPFW's local news-heavy DC Politics Hour, political consultant Chuck Thies tells City Desk that he's leaving the program after tomorrow's episode.
"I gotta step away from the mic," he says. "I'm not bringing my A-game."
Thies says he's been too busy with consulting work to keep up with local politics like he used to, which he thinks has brought down the quality of his broadcast. Since Thies joined co-host Eugene Kinlow on the show in May 2010, the DC Politics Hour's 11 a.m. Thursday broadcast has been a scrappier alternative to big dog local politics talk shows like The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU and News Channel 8's NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt.
Trying to keep up with D.C. politics even as his workload intensified over the past few months has increased Thies' respect for his competition, especially Kojo Nnamdi. Thies marveled at the WAMU host's ability to switch across topics for his five weekly shows: "He lives, breathes, eats and shits that show."
Thies says he's happy to have been hosting the show during a tumultuous period in D.C. politics, from the resignations and convictions of Councilmembers Harry Thomas Jr. and Kwame Brown to the federal investigation into Mayor Vince Gray's shadow campaign.
Thies said one of the highlights of his run was being on air with Councilmember David Catania—coincidentally, the final guest on tomorrow's show—when news broke that stunt mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown had been fired from his cushy job in the Department of Health Care Finance. "[Catania] just had that cat who ate the canary look," Thies says.
More recently, Thies provoked the ire of a house-arrested Kwame Brown—or, depending on who you believe, someone who stole Brown's phone. During a December airing of DC Politics Hour, tweets appearing on the former chairman's account accused Thies of being racist. Later, Brown claimed his phone had been stolen and the tweets were coming from the thief. "It's hilarious," Thies says. "And that showed that the show mattered."
Read Thies's goodbye to his WPFW show below:
Friends, colleagues, fans and critics,
Tomorrow will be my final broadcast as co-host of "D.C. Politics" on WPFW.
When I arrived to D.C. over twenty years ago, WPFW was one of the first radio stations I discovered. WPFW informed and help to evolve my understanding of D.C. politics and community issues. I never imagined that I'd be invited to participate in the on-air conversation. WPFW has been and continues to be a vital voice in D.C. and across the region.
It has been a true honor to be on air at WPFW for the past 2 1/2 years.
I'm grateful to John Hughes, WPFW general manager, for all the support and encouragement he provided. John has been a rock during some challenging times for the station.
Whatever words I write, they will not fully express my gratitude to Gloria Minott, WPFW public affairs director and host of Community Watch & Comment. Gloria taught me to be a better broadcaster. Her guidance was relentless. Gloria also defended me from detractors and critics. She did that relentlessly as well.
Jonetta Rose Barras was the first person to bring me on air at WPFW. She invited me to spar with her during the Fenty/Gray mayoral contest of 2010. Jonetta for Fenty, me for Gray. We had fun disagreeing. A lot of fun. When Jonetta decided to move on, she suggested I join the show on a regular basis. I was grateful to Jonetta then and even more so today.
Thank you to our guests and the journalists who joined us as analysts. There is at once an inherent risk and divine exhilaration that comes with a live broadcast. Thank you for bringing your insight and energy to the booth.
And now, the "last but not least" potion of our program...
Thank you, Eugene Kinlow. First and foremost a dear friend.
Eugene is the glue that binds. The foundation on which "D.C. Politics" was built is Eugene's deep, decades-long involvement in District politics and community affairs.
Eugene and I did more than 100 shows together. We had a blast, rattled some cages, broke news and raised issues that might not have been aired elsewhere.
I will miss our Thursday mornings together, but it is time for me to move on.
My heart is heavy. This is not a decision I arrived to in haste. I have weighed it since last year.
Assuredly, District politics will serve up plenty of material for Eugene and his on-air guests. So please, stay tuned.
I will continue to write at http://www.nbcwashington.com/blogs/first-read-dmv/ and tweet via @chuckthies. I'm not stepping back from District politics, I'm just stepping back from the mic.
Thank you to everyone who listened. Thank you to everyone who shouted back, too.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery.