Remembering Mario Cuomo. “You campaign in poetry – you govern in prose.” The person responsible for that memorable quote knew a little something about election campaigns, given that he won re-election twice as New York State’s chief executive. Although a leading Democratic presidential contender in 1988 and 1992, Mario Cuomo never formally entered either one of those races. Cuomo, 82, died yesterday (New Year’s Day), after a lengthy hospital stay to treat a heart ailment. The liberal/progressive Cuomo famously challenged Ronald Reagan directly by proclaiming, “There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces that you don’t see, in the places that you don’t visit in your shining city.” Born in an apartment above the grocery store owned by his immigrant parents in South Jamaica, Queens, Cuomo rooted his policies in what he called, “progressive pragmatism.” Political persuasion aside, most would agree that Cuomo was a passionate orator. It, therefore, came as no surprise that he was recruited to be a local and syndicated radio talk show host. Not everyone, however, was impressed as evidenced by David Hinckley‘s comments in the New York Daily News. “As good as he could be on television, he was that bad when he tried to host on the radio,” Hinckley opines of Cuomo, who was hired by New York City’s WABC-AM. “He was still brilliant [but] for the year or so the show ran, he was almost unlistenable. It wasn’t his fault – he didn’t suddenly become inarticulate or stupid. It is just that most of the things his admirers liked about him were exactly wrong for radio.” The WABC-AM venture began in spring 1995, and as Hinckley recalls, the former governor “wanted it to be a reasonable, considered, thoughtful discussion – not, as talk radio had frequently become – people screaming at each other and hurling insults. In the abstract, he succeeded in that mission. He ran a calm, thoughtful show in which he encouraged those who disagreed with his views to call and have a rational conversation.” It is Hinckley’s contention though that Cuomo’s “monologues tended to sound professorial, as if he were explaining something to a class and – through no fault of his own – random talk radio callers rarely turn out to be someone with whom a host can hold an extended, thoughtful, academic-level conversation.” Whereas Rush Limbaugh at the time was doing a daily three-hour WABC-AM show, Cuomo hosted one weekend program and as Hinckley points out, fronting a radio show is different from being a talk radio show guest. “Cuomo was [a guest] many times, and often a very good one,” Hinckley comments. “It does not disparage him, or his achievements, that his radio show goes down alongside his New York City mayoral bid as a swing and a miss.”Mario Cuomo was the father of five, including New York’s present governor Andrew Cuomo and CNN journalist Chris Cuomo.