• World Loses a Pioneering Talk Show Giant — Writer Loses a Dear Friend

    Surge Summary: Talk show host pioneer Barry Farber was Master of the Microphone, author, and the dear Jewish friend of a controversial Fundamentalist Christian writer.

    Barry Farber, who died last night (May 6), was the most unusual person I’ve ever known. He was called “the dean of talk show hosts.” I called him, “My Jewish friend.” He called me, “My Christian friend.” We often spoke of “getting together for lunch or dinner the next time” I was in New York City. I am very saddened that it never happened because I stopped flying in recent years except when forced to do so.

    Barry had two children during his first marriage, and he married the second time to Sara Pentz, a television news reporter.  Sara often appeared with him on the show and was as kind as Barry.  He emailed me saying, “I’m from Greensboro, North Carolina; 29 miles from Winston-Salem and my ‘bride’ (September 3, 2008) is a Protestant from Columbus, Ohio, and she never dated a Jew OR a Southerner until we met. I introduced her to grits. I’ve never had better; Sara hits just the right consistency, not too watery or too concrete.  However, I must have given her a hasty briefing when I first brought grits home from the supermarket, because to this day, Sara calls grits, ‘That Jewish breakfast food.’

    “Oh, dear. You got me going. They tell of the rabbi who arrived for a speech in Anniston, Alabama, and to his delight and amazement, there was a kosher delicatessen right across from the train station.  He thought he’d be in gastronomical exile until he got back to New York, but the waitress brought him a huge platter of corned beef, pastrami, kishke, stuffed halse, braunschweiger, hamentashen—and in the middle, a huge pile of gleaming grits.

    “‘Excuse me,’ said the Rabbi. ‘Could you tell me what THAT is?’ he said, pointing to the grits.

    “‘That’s grits,’ answered the local non-Jewish waitress in a thick Southern accent.  ‘I don’t know WHAT in the h*** the rest of that stuff is!’”

    The New York Daily News reported Barry as a native of Baltimore; however, he grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. He loved and respected the South, especially North Carolina. Usually, when we ended a conversation, he would often say, “Please give your beautiful wife from Forsyth County [Winston Salem] my regards.”

    He emailed me once saying, “Please thank your Mrs. for being so nice to me over the phone.  Not only does she sound unusually friendly, but friendly in the tones of my Old South!”

    He told me of being the only Jew in the Greensboro Public School System and listening to the Bible being read and the singing of Christian hymns. He said, “I didn’t think that was unusual since they were Christians. That’s what one would expect.”

    David Kupelian, managing editor of the major news website WorldNetDaily said, “The best talk hosts have the mysterious ability to draw the very best out of their guests, and that was Barry. He was unfailingly warm, gracious, knowledgeable, fresh, and effusively but genuinely enthusiastic about and interested in his guests.”

    David is right on target. I appeared as a guest on Barry’s nightly talk show out of New York City at least 55 times over the years, and Barry was the epitome of kindness, graciousness, and professionalism. He never interrupted me or suggested that I not hit a forbidden button. I was never restricted once, although he got some major flak from some sponsors when I used the word, nigger, citing it as an offensive word “that my children never heard in our home.”

    Then I ridiculed the publications, both liberals and conservatives who substitute the silly “n-word” rather than using the offensive word in a non-offensive manner. Barry also permitted me to deal rather vividly with homosexuality and Martin Luther King, Jr. issues two or three times. Any talk show host willing to tell the truth about those two issues is not only current, correct, but courageous.

    After my column on homosexuality, he wrote, “The purpose of this hasty note is, NEVER BEFORE have I ever READ under a valid by-line, descriptions like yours!  I not only agree with you, but I fiercely admire your guts, particularly in this age when political correctness rules!” He then invited me to do a show on the subject.

    Barry Farber was the poster boy for courage. He would tackle any subject without fear. He emailed me about my column dealing with Federal money going to disaster victims. He wrote, “This is the most courageous column I’ve ever read. If you’ve got the guts to write it, I’ve got the guts to talk about it with you. Okay?”

    We talked about giving tax dollars away without any constitutional right to do so however great the need and however popular it might be. I also used Davy Crockett’s courageous stand as a U.S. Congressman against “free” money.

    Talkers magazine publisher Michael Harrison said: “Barry Farber was one of the founding fathers of talk radio whose influential career spanned both the modern and pre-modern eras of the format. He described his longevity in the business as ‘being big in the old days and old in the big days.’ He was among the finest public speakers of his time and a true wordsmith who served as an inspiration for generations of broadcasters who strived to be artists as well as communicators.”

    Michael hit the bull’s eye.

    Barry was a best-selling author of 14 books in over 30 foreign languages with over one million copies sold. He also wrote articles appearing in The New York TimesReader’s DigestThe Washington Post, and the Saturday Review, plus he was a regular columnist for the major news website WorldNetDaily (WND).

    His first talk show began in 1960 called Barry Farber’s WINS Open Mike. It was the only talk show on what was then a rock n’ roll station and was on weeknights at 11 p.m. He left that job for an evening talk show on WOR in 1962 and became the all-night host in 1967. Barry wrote, “I was told I kept more people up nights than Mexican food.”

    In 1990, he became a national talk-show host on the ABC Radio Network, and in 1991 he was named “Talk Show Host of The Year” by the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts. Farber was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2014.

    As Sean Hannity said of Farber: “He blazed the trail for all of us today in talk radio.” Well, Joe Pyne was the first to hit the big time in Los Angeles in 1967, reaching ten million listeners daily. But Joe was a “shock jock” comparable to Morton Downey, Jr. who often yelled at his guests and blew smoke in their faces. I did the Downey show a few times, and he was always very kind to me even when the subject was AIDS, and his brother was dying of the disease. Barry was much too sophisticated and gracious to use shock antics simply to spike his ratings—and revenue.

    Barry spoke or studied more than 25 languages, and he used that ability when he was assigned to the National Security Agency as a Russian translator in 1952. After serving in the Korean War, he became a journalist. In 1956, while serving a correspondent in Europe, he covered the Hungarian revolt against Soviet occupation.

    My appearances on his show were always a highlight of my day giving me an opportunity to talk about my books or columns or website. Some talk show hosts are fearful that their guests might sell a few books or draw readers to their blog or website. Barry was very generous in promoting his guests.

    In the beginning, he insisted on calling me “Dr. Boys” and going on to provide my bona fides, providing some credibility for the audience. He was always formal on the air with “Dr.” or “Rev.” or “Dr. Rev.” however, in conversation and emails he ended up calling me “Don” or “Dr. Don.”

    Barry and I agreed, as far as I know, on all the social, financial, and political issues. Of course, we disagreed about religion; after all, he was an outspoken (yet not obnoxious) Jew, and I’m an outspoken (yet not obnoxious, seldom) Fundamentalist Christian. He often gave me an open door to express my biblical views on many issues.

    While Barry dealt with controversy, he didn’t seem to have an agenda. I do. I want to make the Gospel aware, available, and to be accepted by the world.  Barry often aggressively opened the door for me to make the Gospel, or Christmas, or Easter very clear to every listener. Of course, he knew that was my agenda. Furthermore, I want to give every liberal constant heartburn and insomnia as I prove that they are the most untruthful, unfair, and unnecessary people on earth.

    Barry emailed me, saying, “You don’t have to be Christian to love your spirited, slashing, and totally successful defense of God.  You don’t need a Divinity degree from Harvard to get all your points [regarding evolution].  Flat tires may just happen; [but] not a universe.  I’ve never understood how an atheist could survive any ten minutes of a basic astronomy course.”

    Today, I realized that I can read scores of Barry’s emails if I ever get discouraged, despondent, or simply down, and I can get a quick boost from Barry’s hyperboles. There is no way I can get away with using some of his milder compliments to me, but I’ll try.

    He wrote, “Dear Dr. Don, Your energy is a great crowd-pleaser, audience-builder, and argument-winner. If we could tie a string around your waist and dip you into the Hudson River like a tea-bag at around 79th Street, within half an hour, you’d have SODA WATER from the Statue of Liberty to the George Washington Bridge!”

    “Who says only idiots stand up and cheer and howl with laughter — in their own apartments.  I’ve been trying for half an hour already to calm down enough to thank you and congratulate you on what may be the best column ever written! Great job, Dear Friend.  Pretend this is an invitation for any night next week — 8 to 9 Eastern — and if you like my column a tiny fraction as much as I like yours, I’ll be as proud as a dog with a hem-stitched tail!”

    “You are absolutely the kindest and most generous, and you really know how to elevate the spirits without illegal substances!”

    Or, “Don, this piece ought to become part of the Constitution!  And as is.  No amendments!”

    Or, this one about gun control. “This is one of the greatest pieces ever written.  I’ll be calling!”

    I could go on and on for pages, but someone out there might accuse me of OVER tooting my own horn, and I’m a very sensitive guy! Surely, I wouldn’t be so shameless to do that. But then, if I don’t toot my horn, no one else will now. And, it is my horn to toot.

    Yes, my friend died last night, and I wept today.

    I am so thankful my path crossed with Barry Faber many times over the years and for the opportunity to express my appreciation for his friendship.

    After all, my Best Friend is a Jew, and He is still alive.

    (Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives who ran a large Christian school in Indianapolis and wrote columns for USA Today for 8 years. Boys authored 18 books, the most recent Muslim Invasion: The Fuse is Burning!  eBook is available here with the printed edition (and other titles) at www.cstnews.com. Follow him on Facebook at Don  Boys, Ph.D.; and visit his blog.  Send a request to [email protected] for a free subscription to his articles, and click here to support  his work with a donation.)

    The views here are those of the author and not necessarily Daily Surge.

    Originally posted here.

    Image: Adapted from: Barry Farber, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3243765


    Dr. Don Boys, Ph. D.

    Dr. Don Boys, Ph. D.

    Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives who ran a large Christian school in Indianapolis and wrote columns for USA Today for 8 years. Boys authored 18 books, the most recent Muslim Invasion: The Fuse is Burning!  eBook is available with the printed edition (and other titles) at www.cstnews.com. Follow him on Facebook at Don  Boys, Ph.D.; and visit his blog. 

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