His guests read like a who’s who of Hudson County pols. Yet in many ways, Fernando Uribe shares little politically with those who appear on his podcast “Talk on the Hudson,” where he conducts weekly interviews with movers and shakers on the local political scene.
On March 1, Talk on the Hudson celebrated its five-year anniversary. “In 2016 I had this epiphany … listening to Rush, Hannity, and Air America when it was still on … there really isn’t a podcast here in Hudson County that delves into Hudson County politics, and I decided to give it a go,” said Uribe, revealing some of his right-of-center influences.
Uribe settled on the platform Blog Talk Radio and put the word out that he was open for business. “I made it a point to contact everyone locally and said ‘listen I’m going to be doing a political podcast … I’m not going to compete with anyone; I just wanted to stand out and be different.’” On March 1, 2017, Talk on the Hudson was born.
The podcast, which routinely runs over an hour, has featured everyone from Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla to New Jersey State Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro. Uribe has interviewed local newspeople including Steve Lenox of TapInto, John Heinis of Hudson County View, and this writer. Uribe has garnered numerous awards, including being named a “Top Latino” in New Jersey in 2020, 2021, and 2022 by The Latino Spirit.
At first blush, Uribe would seem an unlikely interlocutor for his overwhelmingly Democratic guests. But for Uribe, there’s nothing strange about it. Growing up in West New York, he was always interested in getting to know the local power brokers irrespective of their political affiliation.
Indeed, Uribe, who is a registered Independent, points out that his first vote for president was for Bill Clinton,
“On the social issues, I tend to be pretty moderate,” he says, adding “In 2013, I was working with Hudson County TV, and I was the first journalist to interview the first couple to apply for a same-sex marriage license.”
However, he parts company with what he calls the “woke crowd” on gender politics. “We can learn about Harvey Milk. He’s a guy that is important historically. I don’t have an issue with that. But where I draw the line is teaching gender identity to five year olds. It’s madness.”
Moreover, on economic issues Uribe is a classic conservative. Some of this, no doubt, is the result of his upbringing. While his Cuban mother is apolitical, Uribe’s Colombian father is not, he says. “Fernando, Sr., is much more conservative than Fernando, Jr., ” says Uribe. He attributes his father’s politics to “growing up in Latin America and seeing how socialism has grown” and how “countries go backwards … because of socialism.”
Uribe is proud of his Latin American roots. “I didn’t learn English until I was five. I’m bilingual. I’m really grateful for that.”
In 2011, Uribe ran for state assembly as a Republican. He knew it was a lost cause in the overwhelmingly Democratic 33rd district but “did it as a favor to the chair.” Of the experience he says, “never again.” On reproductive rights, however, Uribe broke with conservative orthodoxy. “I was the first Republican in 50 years to be endorsed by NOW [The National Organization of Women].”
Uribe, who conducts his interviews in a genial, non-confrontational style unlike some of his conservative role models, is proud of his reputation for being fair. He feels that he and his podcast have achieved a modicum of respect. “People keep wanting to come on the show and talk … [state] Senator Cunningham doesn’t do a lot of interviews, but she’s been on my show multiple times.”
Among others, Uribe credits his interviews of Hudson County Democratic Organization Chair Amy DeGise, Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis, and Union City Mayor and New Jersey State Senator Brian Stack as having helped to put his podcast on the map.
Conspicuously absent from the interview list is Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. “I was the only journalist back in late 2012 into early 2013 giving [Fulop] any airtime,” Uribe says. In those days, Uribe was working for Hudson County TV. During his first summer in office, Uribe would meet with Fulop every couple of weeks. Over the following year, however, the mayor cut off communication with him in spite of a promise he had made to do regular interviews.
Fulop’s “fickleness” puzzles Uribe given the many other officials who’ve been on his show, including members of Fulop’s slate. “The bottom line is that the chair of the Hudson County Democratic Party has no problem talking with me. Brian Stack has no problem talking to me. Nick Sacco has no problem talking to me. The mayor of West New York has no problem talking to me: It’s annoyed me, but I’ve been fine.”
Notwithstanding the apparent friction with Jersey City’s mayor, Uribe appears to have good relations with Hudson County Democrats generally. Why is that, I ask. “This is very blue collar, working class area,” Uribe says. “A lot of the Democrats I talk to are middle of the road.”
I ask him what accounts for the weakness of Republicans in Hudson County. “Republican social stands turned a lot of people off,” he responds without missing a beat. “Democrats have done a very good job communicating that they’re pragmatic.” Republicans “know what’s wrong with New Jersey but haven’t been able to cultivate a good messenger.”
Uribe has his sights set higher than a local podcast, however. “I’d love to be on Fox or Newsmax. I think there’s no representation for Hispanics.”