A familiar face — well, more accurately, a familiar voice — has returned to the Park City in another highly visible role. Tim Quinn, longtime news director at WICC, was recently hired by the city as the spokesperson for the Bridgeport Police Department, a position technically titled public safety information officer.
Quinn didn’t actually vanish from sight after his 36-year career at the radio station came to an abrupt end in the winter of 2009. He was let go, along with fellow radio personalities David Smith and Brian Smith, in a cost-cutting move: a salary dump, if you will.
The radio reporter was back in the public eye quickly, becoming one of the main faces of the 2009 Barnum Festival.
“That’s when an old friend called and said, ‘Come work for me,’” Quinn recalled.
“Mike Niedermeier is a certified public accountant with a long, distinguished track record of community service. He was the partner-in-charge at BlumShapiro, southern Connecticut. They’re the largest tax accounting and business consulting firm based in the state. Mike had been named ringmaster of the 2009 Barnum Festival, and he and BlumShapiro wanted me onboard for publicity. So I hopped on board.”
Last year, Quinn tried his hand in the political arena, working as one of then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s top people in Fairfield County during Blumenthal’s U.S. Senate campaign.
“I’ve always gotten along exceptionally well with Dick Blumenthal and I believe he will do an excellent job in the Senate,” explained Quinn. “I also didn’t care much for the wrestler from Greenwich (Blumenthal’s Republican challenger Linda McMahon). I worked out of the Fairfield Democratic office on King’s Highway and just had a blast.”
After Blumenthal’s victory in November, Quinn had the opportunity to join Blumenthal’s staff in Washington or Hartford and was seriously mulling over the job offer when fate intervened.
“I’m good friends with Adam Wood (Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s chief of staff), and he approached me and said the position with the police department was available and would I be interested?” said Quinn. “I told him I was considering another offer with the Blumenthal camp, but yes I was interested. A little later, Mayor Finch told me they were interested in bringing me aboard and Chief (Joseph) Gaudett wanted me as well. So they made me an offer.”
For Quinn, the choice was a relatively simple one, particularly in terms of economics and geography.
“The pay was much better,” noted Quinn, a Shelton resident, who will be raking in $70K a year in his new gig. “And I’ll be eligible for a pension in five years. And I won’t have to drive to Hartford or move to Washington. I’ll be right here in Bridgeport.”
Quinn’s appointment as the department’s public safety information officer begs the question: Why not just have someone already inside the department handle the press, a la Connecticut State Police Department Spokesman J. Paul Vance?
“Nobody in the department wanted to do it,” answered Quinn. “They’re too strapped as it is now. They were already looking for someone from the outside when I happened to come along. I was in the right place at the right time.”
Quinn’s day starts at 8:30 a.m. at his office at police headquarters on Congress Street, where he reviews police activities from the night before. Before too long, he bounces over to his second office at City Hall Annex and continues following police activities, contacting the media and issuing official releases.
This makes for a long, busy day, but Quinn considers it rewarding.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s a great job. There’s always something going on and there is almost no down time. Check that — there is no down time.”
For a veteran reporter, being on the other side of the microphone has turned out to be an ace in the hole for Quinn and the city.
“I get to write more than I have in a long time,” he said, laughing.