Media Influencers - Part 2, the Opinion Makers

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Everyone has opinions obviously, but these media folks are paid to say what they say and in many cases what they say can affect public opinion.

We'll start with the category where "opinion" sometimes crosses over into rage - with both hosts and listeners alike. Talk Radio.


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WPRO's John DePetro consistently finds himself in the middle of some of the state's biggest stories. Perhaps the biggest example of that for 2010 was the now famous "shove it" comment by Frank Caprio in his run for Governor. After it aired on DePetro's show, the comment went national and certainly got people talking here and everywhere. John often gets interviews that other hosts can't and he truly works a story.

WPRO's Buddy Cianci delivers tough questions and often has good insight on issues. Being who he is - and given his time as Mayor, Cianci is incredibly fast on his feet, which makes it difficult for someone to dance around him and not answer his questions during an interview. He knows "spin" for sure and can spot it a mile away.

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WHJJ's Helen Glover makes it her business to field as many newsmakers as possible on her show. She made her position known and was up-front that she supported John Robitaille for Governor. While you may or may not agreed with how she tried to sway her opinion through influence - at least she was up-front about it.


Phillipe and Jorge - from the Providence Phoenix. Rudy Cheeks and Chip Young for years and years have cast their influence on just about anyone. Politicians (corrupt and honest), members of the media - you name it. During the late 80's and 90's the first place people flipped to in the Phoenix was Phillipe and Jorge. The two have managed to stay together while staying relevant today.

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Arlene Violet, who is no longer on the radio, continues to be a strong voice in the community writing for the Valley Breeze and appearing as a regular commentator for GoLocalProv. Her time as Attorney General gives her the experience to speak out on many issues. From politics to the mob, "Ahh-lene" - as they say - makes people listen.

Journal Editorial Board. In terms of influence and power, the Projo editorial board still holds on to some of its cache despite the drop in circulation, but the near-all-Democratic endorsement line-up this political season was a bit unexpected and bizzare.

Ed Fitzpatrick took over for M. Charles Bakst at the Journal. Ed's background is investigative, as well as having covered RI courts and the State House. His style is certainly different than M. Charles and the work continues to build a loyal list of readers for his column like Bakst had.

Bob Kerr, also at the Journal, brings a unique voice to those who otherwise wouldn't be heard. His columns often make the public think and luckily he sometimes gets help for the "little guy." Belo big wigs could have tried to push him out like some others, but, for the paper's sake he's still around.

Mary-Ann Sorrentino contributes to the Providence Phoenix and get emotions stirring like no other. She was giving opinions on the radio before print and is never one to hold back.


Rhode Island's Future is an innovative internet outlet that encourages debate and discussion on a lot of issues important to the state. The RI blog gives people a voice and therefore in and of itself is a positive influence no matter how you look at it. 

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Anchor Rising is the conservative voice in the blog world in RI.  Led by Justin Katz, it is always driving the agenda and one of the first in the market to create a destination for conservatives to share their views.

GoLocalProv has set forth a collection of liberal, moderate and conservative voices under the mantle of MINDSETTERS™ -   Matt Jerzyk, Travis Rowley, Don Roach, and John DePetro all regularly contribute.  The goal is to create a central meeting place rather than RED media and BLUE media.  

Honorable Mention, but Confusing as Well

While Part 1 focused on the reporters and Part 2 spotlights the Opinion Makers - this group has a voice, but can also be confusing for the reader, listener, or viewer as to when they are reporting and when they are commenting. Ted Nesi on WPRI's political blog bounces back and forth. Dan McGowan of Rhode Island Future (and an occasional Sports contributor to GoLocalProv) and the WNRI tandem make it sometimes difficult to decipher fact-based journalism from opinion.

The collection of these voices stir the proverbial pot and influence democracy - sometimes for the good and sometimes not.  The discussion goes on.

Jeff Derderian is a former television news reporter and anchor both in Providence and Boston. He is one of the founders of the Station Education Fund. He can be reached at [email protected]


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