Forget TV; New York's Governor Uses Radio to Spread His Word

November 22, 2013

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was ready to talk. It was the morning after Election Day, and voters across New York State had just approved his proposal to expand casino gambling.

So at 8:30, one of his top aides emailed Susan Arbetter, the host of an upstate public radio show, with a simple question: “Time for gov today? 11:30?”

At the appointed time, Mr. Cuomo was patched in from his cellphone, and began. “Top of the morning to you; I’m doing great, Susan,” he said, before beginning a 14-minute monologue, gently guided by Ms. Arbetter, about the promise of new casino jobs, the rejection of a referendum to raise the mandatory retirement age for judges, and Bill de Blasio’s election as New York City mayor.

Half a century after politicians embraced television as a favored means of communication, Mr. Cuomo has determinedly adopted radio as his medium of choice. Week after week, year after year, when he wants to make an announcement, respond to an event or just chat, he picks up the phone and calls a radio host.

Mr. Cuomo is not an avid radio listener, but since taking office nearly three years ago, he has granted more than 100 interviews on talk radio programs, according to a review of his schedules. During that same period, even after installing two television industry veterans to run his communications operation, and despite the fact that his brother, Chris, is a CNN anchor, he has avoided television interviews as much as possible — refusing entreaties from Sunday morning shows and cable talkfests. For a time, NY1, a New York City cable news channel, maintained a running clock, created when Mr. Cuomo was attorney general, showing how many days he had ignored invitations to appear, but eventually gave up.

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