“He has the same spark and passion and brilliant mind.”
Dennis W. Malloy Jr.
Co-host of “The Outdoor Icon Show”
Traficant said he would be interviewed on Greta Van Susteren’s show on Fox News on Friday.
YOUNGSTOWN — “It’s the same human Jim that left seven years ago,” said the host of the local radio show on which former congressman James A. Traficant Jr. chose to make his first public remarks since being released from federal prison.
“He has the same spark and passion and brilliant mind. I believe he will use his experience in prison and as a congressman and a sheriff to catapult himself onto a national platform to help the underdog,” said Dennis W. Malloy Jr., co-host of “The Outdoor Icon Show” with Rob Palowitz.
Traficant was a semi-surprise caller Saturday on the show that airs at 7 a.m. Saturdays on News Radio 570 WKBN. Malloy said he had been told Traficant might call in, but didn’t know positively it would happen.
Malloy, a former Ohio game warden and now regional director of Whitetails Unlimited, said he and Traficant hunted together in the past and became friends.
“You learn a lot about a person’s character when you hunt or fish with them out of the public eye. Through his trial, I felt a lot of people didn’t really know the man. Whatever he does, I think he will be involved with helping the underdog,” Malloy said.
Traficant, who served 17 years in Congress, was released Wednesday from the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn. Traficant, who was convicted in 2002 of 10 felony counts, including racketeering, bribery and obstruction of justice and tax evasion, did not grant an interview to media while in prison nor since his release.
Traficant said on the show that he can’t hunt during his three-year probation. But Malloy said Traficant loves the outdoors, and the show host expects the former congressman to take to the woods with a camera and maybe his new-found passion for painting.
Malloy said his interview with Traficant was mostly “chit-chat” about hunting and fishing. He just wanted to talk about something he missed while he was in prison, Malloy said.
However, Traficant did mention that he would be interviewed on the Greta Van Susteren’s show on Fox News at 10 p.m. Friday.
Malloy said he was honored that Traficant chose the “Outdoor Icon” on which to speak.
“I think he chose a friend to come out. It was comfortable for him. He is back and part of the community,” Malloy said.
“Love him or hate him, when you meet him, he is somebody you remember,” Malloy said of Traficant.
And a segment of the community remembers him fondly, judging from the reaction to an event in his honor from 3 to 7 p.m. today at Mr. Anthony’s in Boardman.
One of the event organizers, Linda Kovachik, a family friend, said Saturday night that 1,150 of the 1,200 $20 tickets for the event had been sold, and she expected the remaining 50 to go. She said people are coming from as far away as Wisconsin and Minnesota.