Rich Heldenfels


Internationally known lawman David Oliver will begin hosting a Saturday-night talk show on WNIR (100.1-FM) on Aug. 2.



The chief of the Brimfield Police Department became an online star through his mix of whimsical and very serious commentaries on the department’s Facebook page, which as of June 25 had 154,000 likes — about 15 times the population of Brimfield.



That has led to TV appearances, major support for local events, successful books and, Oliver said Monday, contact from Hollywood producers. In fact, after news broke about his radio job, Oliver took to Facebook to emphasize “this is not the start of my exit from the police department. There have been plenty of job offers and there is probably not a job created that would entice me to leave this department.”



Other offers, he said, involved “things we don’t want to get into because first and foremost we’re a law enforcement agency. I’ve listened to ’NIR for a long time, and I just thought this was good for both sides.”



The benefit for WNIR seems clear: It gets a big, established personality on a station that has been marked by staff changes and other turmoil of late. Oliver, for one, is replacing Bob Earley, who left the station in February after a dispute with management. The station announcement noted that Oliver’s show will be available on the radio, online and on smart phones to reach his following in “all 50 states and 44 countries.” And listeners will be the main guests, says WNIR, “making every show a lively dialogue between the Chief and people from all walks of life.”



But what’s the benefit for Oliver and Brimfield?



“When I started here 20 years ago this year, we were referred to as ‘Brimtucky,’?” Oliver said. “When we went to other law-enforcement training, we were just kind of the redheaded stepchild — not to offend the redheaded stepchildren out there. We were always just kind of looked down on. And the crew I have here, we’ve really, really worked hard to build our reputation and solidify our standing in the community and be a community partner.”



The Facebook page and now the radio show are ways to bring more “positive reflection on the community.”



At the same time, there has been some grumbling about Oliver’s media profile and whether it takes away from his full-time job. One Facebook fan on Monday worried that the Chief was spreading himself too thin.



“Typically on a Saturday night I’m at home watching a rerun of Andy Griffith,” he said. “Normally I’m off at least part of Saturday and most Sundays. To me, other than being in the public eye on a radio station, it’s no different than if I sold supplements in the evening or had some other side business.”



Radio experience



While he has been a guest on many shows, Oliver’s hosting background dates back about 30 years to his student days at Central-Hower High School. As a junior and senior, he hosted a show on WAPS, then a Top 40 station at 89.1-FM.



His new show will air from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturdays. Asked how he will prepare for it, he said, “I read so much anyway. Usually in the morning before work. Sometimes you’ve got to watch some Gunsmoke in there, too. But I read a lot. I’m always on news sources. I have several news alerts on my phone constantly. I may zero in on some stuff, to learn more about it. But I intend just to speak from experience and if I don’t know it, I’m going to be the first to say I don’t know.”



Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com. He is also on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.