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Dan Yorke enters Rhody TV talk

On the Airwaves
By PHILIP EIL  |  September 11, 2013

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INTO THE FRAY "No time for small talk," Yorke says.

If you’ve been wondering when Rhode Island was going to get its very own nighttime, cable-news-inspired, Hannity- or Hardball-style talk show, the wait is over.

“Welcome in to State of Mind,” Dan Yorke told viewers Monday at 7:30 pm on myRITV. The longtime WPRO talk radio host sat at a desk in front of a computer-generated backdrop featuring a photo of the Providence skyline at dusk.

“Now, listen, if you’re tuning in for the first time,” he continued, “no matter how high or far this program goes, you can say that you saw the first one.” Then after a few more brief opening remarks, he said, “I’m looking forward to this project, but I have no time for small talk. We’ve got a lot going on.”

With that, he dove into the show’s kickoff segment, called “The Rundown,” where he rapidly led viewers through the increasingly tangled situation in Syria (“So, it’s hard to follow the propaganda, isn’t it?”); a recent Providence Journal story about a bloated, $6.7 million-over-budget computer upgrade at the DMV; and a plea to the blond-haired country singer Faith Hill, whom NBC has swapped out of this year’s Sunday Night Football opening sequence for the younger blond-haired country singer Carrie Underwood. “Please come back,” Yorke said.

Dan Yorke State of Mind, which is filmed in a green-screen studio at WPRI and WNAC’s East Providence headquarters on the afternoon of the day it airs, is part of a broader effort by the station to ratchet up its Rhody-based programming. In addition to weekday news broadcasts running at various times between 4:30 am and 11 pm, State joins the daily lifestyle-based Rhode Show, which premiered in 2008, and the weekly business interview, Executive Suite, which began in 2011.

“Local programming. . . is king to all screens at this point, whether it’s [a] digital screen, whether it’s your phone, whether it’s an on-air screen,” says WPRI and WNAC president and GM Patrick Wholey, who proudly trumpets the stations’ 57 hours of original programming (WJAR, their closest competitor, produces 37).

And while Rhode Islanders are most familiar with hearing Yorke over the radio airwaves — he’s “pretty much an institution here,” Wholey says — State is far from his first foray into television. Dig deep enough on the Internet and you’ll find photos of a mustachioed, suspenders-wearing Yorke barking at the camera in the early-mid 1990s, when his Dan Yorke Show ran at midnight after Nightline on WGGB in Springfield, Massachusetts. “You could pick out weeks or months when this data isn’t perfect,” says Yorke of the show, which ran for seven years, “ but by in large, the ratings performance was: ‘Leno, Yorke, Letterman.’ ”

While he’s grown “a little mellower” since then, Yorke says that his approach to hosting really hasn’t changed. “I want people to know who the good guys and bad guys are,” he says. “I want people to get a little bit of insight over what’s really going on.”

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