Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Radio Re-Elects mobster

Yeah. If you had to guess now where this would happen you'd probably say new Jersey right. Well wrong. It was Providence. The Station was WHJJ-AM, and the mobster was Buddy Cianci. Early on, Cianci was a prosecutor in the office of the Rhode Island Attorney General. He parlayed that mob-busting administrations good repuation into a well respected and successful run at becoming mayor of Providence. He was elected in 1974. He was active and charismatic leading to a common joke during his tenure as mayor that Cianci would attend the opening of an envelope. Cianci was revered by many residents of Providence and credited with the revitalizing of the city's economy . Then he had to resigned from office in 1984 after pleading no contest to assaulting a man with a lit cigarette, an ashtray and a fireplace log...

I would normaly assume a man was unelectable after that.

Cianci spent the next few years as a radio talk show host on Providence radio station 920 WHJJ-AM. By all reports this was a fantastic show and perhaps his true calling above politics. He was described as hyper-articulate even by his detractors and his encyclopedic inside knowledge of Rhode Island politics made him flat out dangerous to any inneffectual politico that he didn't like. Joseph R. Paolino Jr. served as mayor between Buddy's two terms and spent that durration being jabbed daily by Cianci. He predicted recently that Buddy will return to radio and when asked about how this will effect the current administation he said: “They’ll wish that Thomas Edison never invented the radio.”

The program kept Cianci in the public eye, and it kept him politically involved. It made his second run at Mayor possible, and his win inevitable.

Cianci was indicted in April 2001 on federal criminal charges of racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, witness tampering, and mail fraud. Several other Providence city officials were also indicted. Much of the trial was focused around a video tape showing top Cianci aide Frank A. Corrente involved in bribery. Cianci was acquitted of 11 of 12 charges, including bribery, extortion, and mail fraud. He was however, found guilty of a single charge of conspiracy and was sentenced to serve five years in federal prison. So he'll be back on air probably in late 2007.

Providence Journal reporter Mike Stanton wrote a biography of Cianci titled The Prince of Providence.