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Radio host apologizes for hanging up on Schaefer

September 30, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

A Hagerstown radio talk show host apologized on the air Tuesday for hanging up on former Gov. William Donald Schaefer three times the day before.

The two-term Maryland governor can now laugh about being mistaken for a prank caller.

"I want to apologize to you profusely and I already apologized to William Donald Schaefer. He was a very gracious gentleman about it," host Trav Ruppert told listeners at the start of his daily call-in show, "Party Line," on WJEJ-AM.

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Schaefer phoned Ruppert's live show Monday after a friend told him one of Ruppert's callers was spreading misinformation about him.

"I said, 'This is Don Schaefer. I understand you're giving me a hard time. He said, 'Yea, yea.' Boom." The line was dead.

"He didn't believe me. I said, this is ridiculous."

Schaefer called Ruppert again. "Boom," Schaefer said. Ruppert hung up the phone.

Schaefer, who is running for state comptroller, didn't give up.

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He called Ruppert a third time. This time, Ruppert quizzed Schaefer. The radio host asked if Schaefer remembered meeting him at the 1991 funeral of state Sen. Victor Cushwa.

Alas, Schaefer did not.

Later that afternoon, word of the blunder reached former Hagerstown Mayor Steven T. Sager, who called Schaefer to confirm the story was true.

Sager then called Ruppert.

"Appropriately and honorably he apologized. Appropriately and honorably, it was accepted," Sager said.

Sager said he tried to console Ruppert by reminding him of the time Jay Leno confused Mayor Sager with the mayor of Friendsville, Md., who had been charged with indecent exposure.

The mistake earned Sager an on-air apology to which Sager responded, "Thanks for the exposure."

Schaefer said he doesn't hold a grudge against Ruppert.

"It was fun," he said.

Ruppert declined to comment about the mixup without first talking to station owner John Staub, who is out of the office this week.

Schaefer said he didn't hear Ruppert's on-air apology because he can't receive the broadcast at his Baltimore law office.

Schaefer said all he wanted to do was set the record straight. He was not, as one caller suggested, disbarred or kicked out of the U.S. Navy. In fact, he served in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of colonel, he said.

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