It wasn’t Democrat Day at the State Fair, which comes in August. So, why did Sam Madonia have a lineup of Democrats on his AM Springfield show on WFMB last week?
And why was it being broadcast from the home of Brad Franke of Springfield – a field organizer for the campaign of Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker?
Well, it turns out that Tim Franke – father of the 24-year-old organizer – bid at an American Lung Association Springfield golf outing in 2017 to have the station do a “live remote” from his home.
“It appears I purchased it for a $190 bid,” the elder Franke told me.
Tim Franke said he and his wife Kathy have been volunteering for the Pritzker campaign and coordinated with the station on available dates.
While Brad – who got his master’s in public administration from the University of Illinois Springfield in May and lives with his parents – works with the campaign, Tim Franke said, “this was not a J.B. event, rather our family hosting these great guests. I came up with the schedule. ... Brad did some verification of times with the guests in advance and also introduced them to Sam when it was their turn.”
Madonia, who has voted in every Republican primary since at least 1992, said the program was “like any other remote that we do,” which for most sponsors involves payment to the station.
“Every once in a while, the radio station will donate our morning show to a nonprofit” as an auction item, Madonia said.
He added that he is “as fair and impartial to both sides on air as I can be,” and “I was perfectly comfortable with it.”
He noted that despite the lineup of Democrats, there wasn’t “overkill,” because regularly scheduled advertisers who pay to call in were part of the program.
Among guests on the show were Dick Breckenridge, who volunteers as Pritzker’s co-coordinator in Christian County; state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill; 95th House District Democratic candidate Dillon Clark of Litchfield; and 13th Congressional District U.S. House candidate Betsy Dirksen Londrigan of Springfield.
Madonia knows both of Londrigan’s parents, and asked about them – in addition to asking about issues such as health care.
Jordan Abudayyeh, spokeswoman for the Pritzker campaign, said the campaign was not part of the broadcast in any official capacity, but “we’re excited volunteers in central Illinois are working so hard to get Democrats elected up and down the ballot.”
Madonia asked Londrigan whether President Donald Trump would have an impact on the campaign.
Londrigan said voters are concerned about jobs, education, and other “bread and butter issues.”
“We don’t talk about Donald Trump,” she said.
Back in January, when Londrigan appeared in her first TV ad, Trump was mentioned.
“Donald Trump is dangerous,” she said in that ad, “and it’s time we had a Congress that will stand up to him.”
Congratulations are in order, by the way, to Tim Franke, 57, who retires Thursday from his $93,551-a-year job as director of operations for the Springfield Airport Authority. He’s been with the airport for 38 years.