After a brutal couple of weeks in the communications department over the TTC, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford seems to have put his football coach hat on and remembered that sometimes the best defence is a good offence. To wit: a double volley of communications plays, penning an op-ed for the Globe and Mail and announcing that he and councillor/brother Doug Ford will take over hosting duties of the weekly municipal issues talk show “The City” on NewsTalk 1010 starting this Sunday afternoon. The op-ed reframed Ford’s argument for subway construction over LRT lines and – for the first time – suggested he would be open to looking at new surcharges on parking in the city to help pay for it. This is a major new message for the mayor, and by putting it out in a newspaper column, he put it into play in the public record in a focused, controlled and deliberate way (and prevented any possibility of the change in stance being interpreted as being “blurted out” in a scrum or otherwise “pulled out of the air”). The radio show is also a gutsy move. I can tell the mayor from first-hand experience that hosting an open-line show is a high-wire act for anyone, let alone a polarizing public official. He’ll need to keep his cool and be extra cautious in any comments he makes in the back-and-forth with callers – but as a vehicle for taking his message directly to the people (and to every reporter who will be listening), it’s unparalleled.