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Vince Coakley Isn’t A Conservative ‘Fire-Breather’

“‘Anger is the devil’s cocaine.’ I stole that quote. I don’t remember who said it,” Vince Coakley explained.

“Anger is the devil’s cocaine. It feels so good, but it makes you do stupid stuff.”  -Andrew Klavan

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The quote is apropos when you consider the ire, angst, and animosity Americans seem to hold for each other right now.

“It’s so true,” Coakley said. “I think people get an adrenaline rush from anger. Our bodies go through a flight or fight response when confronted. I know when a lion is chasing you, for that few minutes your body is revved-up. Once that situation is resolved, you go back to normal.”

Or, you could end up a meal for the lion.

The Vince Coakley Radio Program airs weekdays from 10:00 AM-Noon on WBT-AM 1110 and 99.3 FM in Charlotte.

Coakley is concerned about how social media, talk radio, and cable TV are stirring us up 24/7. We haven’t had a break in a long time as politics have become so consuming.

Coakley was born in Cincinnati and moved to Indianapolis when he was just three years old. Coakley’s father was a civil service employee for the Federal Government. He attended several schools around the country. By his senior year in high school, he found himself in Kentucky. He matured quickly.

“Despite going to a few different schools, I don’t think that negatively affected me in any way. I went to college at Eastern Kentucky University and studied broadcasting,” Coakley said.

In Indianapolis, his elder sister went to college. Coakley took over her vacant room and turned it into a news studio.

“I set up a map of Indiana on the wall and listened to the weather service radio all the time. I used Scotch tape and put some over all the different cities on the map. That way I could wipe off old temperatures and update them.”

He said news theme music was important to him. “Somewhere in the basement I still have those tapes.”

I’d pay top-dollar to hear those.

Coakley was an admitted nerd as a kid. He would add news to the “broadcasts” later. You’d think with his weather reports, Coakley might have gone to school to be a meteorologist. That was a no-go.

“I’m good at math but I hate science,” he said. “For whatever reason. I was all over math.”

On his show, Coakley said he loves it when people message him and say they don’t agree with anything he says on the air, but add that he’s fair.

“I always tell people not to assume too much about somebody else,” Coakley said. “I urge them not to get caught up in labels. Instead, ask a lot of questions. We’re about individuals.”

Coakley makes the distinction between political leaders and individuals.

“Many talk radio types lump everybody together in one bundle, and that’s a mistake. If you take the time to talk with them, many more people may agree with you on issues than you think. The fighting and arguing is counterproductive.”

He’s a man of deep faith. Coakley said much of what he does is driven by his spiritual values. Coakley believes in his foundation of being a follower of Christ and being a servant to those values. He said ultimately that’s what’s needed.

“My relationship with God is all that I am, all that I do,” Coakley said. “That relationship has a direct impact on how I handle the program. I never cut callers off. If they’re offended, I hope they’re offended by the information and facts as I see them. Not by the way I treated them.”

Coakley said in 2008 we elected our first American Idol president in Barack Obama. In 2016, we elected a Celebrity Apprentice.

“I’ve said this on my show. It’s all about the Trump factor now. People who support Trump won’t acknowledge his faults. Others want the entertainment associated with Trump.”

Coakley explained he had a great caller recently who asked what supporters are thinking of Trump since he lost in 2020.

“The question was what has he done for suburban women since he lost,” Coakley explained. “You’ve got to win those independents and right now they are not impressed. They’ve seen his inaction. I can’t tell you which way all of this is going. I’m convinced there is a thoughtful group out there where they can forge a consensus on the most important things.”

With his program, Coakley said his listeners get something very different from standard fire-breathing talk radio. Instead, he’s about trying to uplift, empower, and encourage. Not simply stir people into a frenzy every day.

“I hope that’s distinct,” he said.  “As a rule, I try to avoid hyperbole. But that’s been a long process. Throughout my broadcasting career, it has been important for me to find my own voice. It’s great to admire other broadcasters, maybe emulate some to a degree, you have to find your own voice.”

Coakley said we have to avoid giving in to the mob. That’s where he’s concerned we are dealing with a mob mentality. He wants to provoke thought rather than emotion.

“In recent years, the Republican party has lost its way. I love being a driving force and I don’t care what my listeners’ ideology is. When our Founding Fathers wrote their documents, they pledged to each other their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. That went for everybody, regardless of party affiliation. Some of these folks aren’t thinking anymore.”

Coakley addresses the issues of the day calmly and rationally. He said the energy devoted to climate change may be a waste of time.

“I don’t deny strange things are happening with our climate,” Coakley said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re experiencing a climate shift. The first supposition is that human activity has caused it. The earth has experienced cataclysmic climatic activity in its history.”

Coakley questioned whether the changes have had anything at all to do with man.

“In my view, cyclical things going on have nothing to do with man. In our arrogance, we like to think we can control more than we do.”

He said there’s no doubt the earth is entering a season where it’s warmer than it has been in recent history. Coakley thinks it’s going to shift back again.

“Here’s what amuses me–how can we be so sure about climate when they can’t even be accurate with a seven-day forecast.”

Whether or not you agree with Coakley’s views on climate change, that was funny.

As a species, Coakley said we need humility.

“I said that at the beginning of the Covid crisis. We need humility to help us understand what’s going on. I think too many people like Anthony Fauci were telling us something they assumed to be true and they weren’t.”

Coakley is gratified with the way his life and career have gone.

“I’m still trying to figure out what might come next. That doesn’t diminish the importance of what I do now or how much I’m enjoying it. I want to be involved in laying groundwork for something redemptive for the next generation. I’m not exactly sure how that will manifest, but I will share an overused line… stay tuned.”

Jim Cryns
Jim Cryns
Jim Cryns writes features for Barrett News Media. He has spent time in radio as a reporter for WTMJ, and has served as an author and former writer for the Milwaukee Brewers. To touch base or pick up a copy of his new book: Talk To Me - Profiles on News Talkers and Media Leaders From Top 50 Markets, log on to Amazon or shoot Jim an email at [email protected].

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