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Radio Station’s Talk Show Hosts Battle Over House Seat

October 13, 1994

YARMOUTH, Mass. (AP) _ When Ed Teague and Cathy Brown face the microphone on their separate talk shows on WXTK-FM, only one subject is off-limits: the race for the local seat in the Legislature.

That’s because Teague and Brown are the two candidates.

″I told them at the start of it that I didn’t want the airwaves used as a campaign soapbox,″ said Cary Pahigian, general manager of the all-talk station on Cape Cod.

So there they are for four hours each day, paid professional talkers who must bite their lips on the subject they most want to discuss. They also have been warned that their supporters better not try to make embarrassing phone calls to the shows.

The unusual rivalry has drawn so much local attention that a station in nearby Hyannis has refused campaign ads from them, lest the exposure boost WXTK’s ratings.

Still, that hasn’t completely muzzled on-air campaigning.

″I haven’t noticed anything from either of them, but from their co-hosts I’ve heard little barbs and innuendoes,″ said Don Hutton, a retiree who regularly listens to both programs.

Brown has been a Democratic selectman in the nearby town of Dennis for four years. Teague, a six-year Republican incumbent, is House minority whip and has a shot at minority leader if he is re-elected.

Brown and Teague do talk about political issues, such as a proposed graduated income tax. And they can say where they stand. They just can’t take shots at each other.

Hutton, a Teague man, finds himself often wishing the incumbent would unload on his more liberal challenger.

″Quite frankly she reminds me of our president,″ Hutton said. ″She is quite able to flip-flop with a high degree of ease.″

Off the air, Brown says Teague has lost touch with his constituents.

Teague laughs at the suggestion. ″I’m on a call-in show four hours a day. I don’t see how I could get away with not being accountable for what I do,″ he said.

The 50,000-watt WXTK broadcasts from a cedar-shingled building that looks like any other home in Yarmouth, a town of about 21,000 year-round residents overlooking Nantucket Sound.

It is a quiet area, made quieter still by the ban on campaigning at WXTK, where 94.9 has been one boisterous spot on the dial. Teague has the morning slot, and Brown takes over in the afternoon. In between are the syndicated programs of G. Gordon Liddy and Rush Limbaugh.

Brown, 37, also works at her family’s breakfast restaurant. She tried to challenge Teague two years ago but lost in the Democratic primary.

She said she feels no great need to debate him at the station because both of them have avid supporters, ″and anything I say in the next few weeks wouldn’t change their minds.″

Teague, 44, runs his own insurance agency in Yarmouth, where he lives with his wife and four children. He relishes his five-day a week radio soapbox.

″These four hours are mine,″ he said. ″Agree or disagree with me, at least you know why I’m doing what I am.″

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