Grandy on C-SPAN

Sioux City, Iowa, native Fred Grandy — a former Iowa congressman who ran against Terry Branstad in the 1994 Republican primary and almost pulled off the upset — was a guest last night on C-SPAN’s “Q&A with Brian Lamb.”  Watch it here

Grandy is the co-host of a morning talk show in Washington, D.C. these days on WMAL 630 AM.  Lamb, who listens to Grandy’s radio show, started by asking Grandy to grade, basically, the four acts of his adult life.  Grandy gave these acts the following grades:

Being an actor and portraying the character “Gopher” on “The Love Boat” was what Grandy called a “solid B” on the “satisfaction index” 

Being a Republican member of congress from January of 1987 to January of 1995 was a B-

Being head of Goodwill Industries was an A- 

Being a radio talk show host a B+

Grandy revealed that after he left Goodwill Industries, he did a bit of acting in California before he picked up the gig with WMAL.  “I was kind of between careers and I had filled in (on WMAL)…I kind of gravitated to it,” Grandy said on C-SPAN.

Grandy told Lamb he describes himself as “a recovering congressman” and Grandy expressed disappointment in the distance between the “promise” and the “practice” of congress.  Grandy now considers himself an “infotainer.” Grandy, when prompted by Lamb, explained his A- grade for the time he spent as leader of Goodwill Industries, saying it was “the full expression of what I thought public service was supposed to be.”

Grandy made only a passing mention of the 1994 gubernatorial primary once, as he was talking about his long-time friendship with David Eisenhower.  The two men were roommates at the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy.  Eisenhower campaigned for Grandy in 1986 when Grandy first ran for congress and campaigned in Iowa, again, when Grandy ran for governor in 1994.  His visit was relatively late in the primary campaign, and when I asked David Eisenhower (during an interview conducted in the lobby of the Hotel Fort Des Moines) why he hadn’t been to Iowa earlier, Eisenhower said: “We didn’t expect it to be this close.”

During his C-SPAN appearnace, Grandy talked at length about talk radio (which was interesting to me).  He described Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern as the “Zeus and Poseidon” of talk radio.   Grandy was quizzed about the potential of his return to elected office.  

“Any more public office?” Brian Lamb asked.

“For me?” Grandy replied.

“Yes,” Lamb said.

“I don’t really think so because as much as I enjoyed it, in a way I feel I’m kind of closer to the public now,” Grandy said. “It’s interesting.  As I see…congress kind of distance itself from the public it serves, I see to some degree talk radio and infotainment moving in to fill that gap.  It seems to me a lot of people call our program and other programs because they cannot get any kind of connection with their elected officials.

“…My fondest memories of being an Iowa congressman were town meetings in communities that might be no larger than 1000.  You’d go to the community center and maybe 150 people would show up.  So you’ve got 10 percent of the community right there and we could easily sustain a two hour discussion, back and forth, and — until talk radio — that was my idea of interactive government.”

Lamb played a few video clips from “The Love Boat” along with some other Grandy gigs in Hollywood.  Grandy talked the accident that prompted him to think about doing more than just “serving myself.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.