You are the host of the Tara Granahan Show, weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on NewsTalk 630 WPRO and 99.7FM. How long have you had your show?
My first day at WPRO was Sept. 20, 2007. I remember it for a variety of reasons, mostly because it’s my mom’s birthday, and Buddy Cianci’s first day also (“back from vacation”)! My roles here have changed over the years: from producer/co-host to having my own show.
What did you do professionally before becoming a talk show host?
I spent over a decade at ABC 6 in Providence: Producing, reporting and anchoring the news. In my younger years, I was a waitress, bartender, business owner, Avon lady (at 14!), and sweated it out as Chuck E. Cheese for a summer, too!
On NewsTalk 630, you cover a wide range of issues and stories in the news. On any particular day, how do you decide what to discuss?
I’m always thinking of where my audience is, in what head space? If the price of eggs is $7-10, or a major snow storm is coming… I’m not sure they want to talk jobs numbers. I also use social media (Facebook & Twitter) to see what sparks a conversation. It’s much different than my days of producing a newscast, where you wouldn’t want to miss a story…. these are talk topics, hopefully engaging ones.
Beyond discussion, you often take a pro-active role. This winter, you took on the complex issue of homelessness. Tell us about some of your efforts on this issue.
I think it was out of frustration, more than anything, when you have MANY people “working on an issue”, and MILLIONS of dollars being moved around on this issue… and nothing seems to change. So I asked our WPRO listeners: Where are the homeless camps/tents in your city or town? In 90 minutes, on 12/12, we had over 40 locations. Sent that off to the governor’s office so they had a sense of what’s going on! I’ve also helped some veterans, on/off air, get help from Operation Stand Down.
What are some of the other issues dear to your heart?
I spent quite a bit of time on the UHIP debacle several years ago, also the MTM transportation problems with stranding the elderly and compromised. Right now, I think the senior citizens in RI are being ignored… that’s the stuff that “gets my goat.”
When you feel warranted, you also call political leaders to task. Why is this important to you and your audience?
It’s important to get answers, results, and SOMETHING for what we pay for. I really believe the pandemic has had lingering effects on the media. For 2 years, we were told what to do and what to believe…with very little push-back or follow-up. When a politician runs for office, campaigns on promises… they have to expect some tough(er) questions!
Why is discussion in the public square – in your case, your show – important to democracy?
Simply put, because everyone should have a voice. I’d also like to think that we should be able to disagree and still be civilized! We’d get a lot more accomplished if we could work together and not tear down the walls over politics.
Some might describe you as right-leaning, but the reality is different. Talk about that.
That’s the nature of talk radio: it’s mostly thought of as ultra-conservative, Republican, MAGA, etc. If you listen, however, my audience is quite diverse. And if you ever pulled my voting card, you’d see I vote for the PERSON, not the party… I’m all over the place! Personally, I would describe myself as Independent… fiscally conservative. And socially? A bit more liberal. (Admittedly, I can’t stand labels!)
If you could magically improve life in Rhode Island, what would you do?
Shave down the sales tax, the gas tax, attack the litter-strewn areas and immediately pave and clean up the T.F. Green Airport section.
What was your most rewarding moment(s) as a talk show host?
Probably the day (post-pandemic) when I was musing about how some people used their days in lockdown to either learn a skill, grow a garden, play an instrument, etc.
I said, on-air, I did none of the above!
Then a listener took the time to write to me. I saved it….
“As usual I was listening to your show this morning, Monday, March 1, 2021. You started by reminding your listeners that today is the anniversary of the 1st COVID-19 case here in RI. The anniversary of the day the @%$# hit the fan. You were contemplating what you and others have accomplished in this year of hibernation and talked about how besides painting one room in your home, you did not get anything done.
“I am sure Dennis feels that you accomplished the most important thing by helping to get him in to see his dying wife. Even if this was all you did, your actions were remarkable and all of RI breathed a sigh of relief that Dennis and his wife were together at last.
“You worked tirelessly to get the information RI needed to understand the virus and then deal with it. RI learned how to book a Covid-19 test and where to book it because of you. You answered thousands of emails to send people the correct links. You asked the questions to Gina [former Gov. Raimondo] and Dr. Scott [former Department of Health director Nicole Alexander-Scott] that needed to be asked. Then when the vaccine came in you researched that and because the DOH and the state had so many freaking websites, you and your team developed Operation Vaccination to make things easier for us. Rhode Island understands that you went above and beyond hosting a 3-hour radio show. You were our life line for unemployment, scheduling visits with loved ones in nursing homes, shutdowns, testing, vaccinations and navigating the multiple changes in regulations.
“You researched and found the right people and the right places for people to apply for unemployment when this started (remember that mess?) The state was trying but Rhode Islanders were scared and confused and out of work. You answered their calls. You got to the head of RI DLT [Department of Labor and Training] and had him talk to us on your show.
“The information you disseminated, the assistance you gave anyone that asked, the way you led RI through this crazy and confusing year…. these are your ukuleles.
“We are very proud of you.”
Your most frustrating or disappointing moment(s)?
Hmmm… It’s always frustrating when you know you’re not getting a “straight answer”, especially when you’ve known the politician/guest for some time. It’s as if, because RI is so intertwined, I would be expected to sweep it under the rug. That’s when I lose respect for people.
Have you ever thought of running for political office?
A couple of years ago, I’d say, NO WAY!
Now… never say never.
How does living in a rural community, Exeter, influence your thinking and beliefs?
It’s good to remember that simple can be better and I’m fortunate to have good neighbors. Also, do we really need to be hustling at 90 mph– all day, every day?