Barry Farber and wife at celebration of 50 years in radio
NEW YORK – “The dean of talk radio” tonight was praised by colleagues and competitors at Manhattan’s Paley Center, where Barry Farber’s 50 years of radio work were honored.
“He is a gentleman, a southern gentleman,” said Fox News’ Alan Colmes, who worked with Farber on a “Left and Right” program before Sean Hannity came on the scene. “He brings a civility and approach … that almost doesn’t exist in talk radio. There never has been anyone just like him and never will be.”
Farber, an author, columnist and proficient linguist – he tackles dozens of languages – started working in radio in 1960. He marked his 50th anniversary with a live show from the Paley Center for Media here tonight.
More than 100 talk show veterans joined in the festivities on CRN Radio Network.
Among the other celebrities attending the special event were Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, TV-radio pioneer Joe Franklin, Colmes and WOR radio’s Steve Malzberg.
Malzberg remembered growing up listening to Farber.
“When I was an intern listening to him at WMCA in 1979, he was just the most amazing man I ever met,” he said. “As recently as a few years ago I heard him do fill-ins on WABC, he was great. It was so good to hear his voice.”
He said Farber’s style, analysis and presentation put him in a league apart.
“I’m not sure I would call him middle of the road,” added Colmes. “He is not an ideologue. He is not knee-jerk. When he does have a position it is well thought out.”
He described Farber as “brilliant.”
Franklin, who some credit with hosting the first TV talk show, in 1951, called Farber his “role model.”
“I wanted to be just like him when I grew up,” he said. “Remember when Barry ran for mayor of New York? He did pretty well. Remember he speaks 17 languages (and that helped his campaign).”
He continued, “Today [talk radio] has gotten more mean spirited. When Barry began it was not all peaches and cream, but today it is now putting down too many people. It is getting scary.”
Franklin said, “Barry Farber is part of the golden era that will be honored for a long time to come.”
Earlier, Michael Horn of CRN Digital Talk Radio described Farber as “one of radio’s living legends.”
“Barry was there when this medium started and is still very relatable to today’s talk radio audience,” he said.
Farber credited his career to “lucky breaks” that have been “miraculously tied together.”
“I could not start in today’s environment,” he said. “I was big in the old days and now I am old in the big days.”
He said he worked under the assumption that respect could be offered a guest, whether there was agreement or not.
“There are ways to enjoy combativeness without being combative,” he said. “There is no rule that says you have to snarl at someone or raise your voice. You can conduct interviews with courtesy.
“Today,” he said, “they want red meat, they want blood and for good reason. Look at America today.”
Farber launched his radio career in New York in 1960 and began hosting a national talk show on the ABC Radio Network in 1990. The National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts named Farber 1991’s “Talk Show Host of the Year.” He recently was ranked No. 12 on the “Heavy Hundred of All Time” list by Talkers magazine.