Saturday, May 9, 2020

Media Lessons From Talk Radio Hall of Famer Barry Farber

                 radio-mic-black | Victory Baptist Church

Barry Farber, a conservative radio talk-show host who made a living for decades as a rabble-rousing, cantankerous, in-your-face media personality, died a day after turning 90. The National Radio Hall of Fame inductee was one of my earliest mentors when I interned for him in 1986 while in college. Learning of his death yesterday made me think back not only to what it was like to briefly work for this brilliant but controversial radio pioneer, but about what made his style work so well. Authors marketing themselves could have learned a lot from him.

Farber and I did not see eye-to-eye on politics, but as a journalist, I respected him. The Democrat-turned-Republican was most identifiable for his ability to rant with intense delivery and verbose prose, using his drawn-out Southern drawl and quick wit to build up an us vs. them approach with any guest in a matter of a nanosecond. Though one of his many talk shows debuted in 1960, it was not until 1991 that he was recognized as Talk Show Host of the Year by National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts. He was admired and respected, but not always liked by his peers or listeners.

Born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina, New York City did not seem like a place he belonged in, but there he was living in an amazing apartment by Central Park in the West 70’s. My internship was in his home, where he sometimes did his show. I remember sitting around his kitchen table, nervous to respond to his questions. He always seemed to be weighing, analyzing, and judging anything I or anyone else said. That was his nature – to observe, question, and then pounce.  

I recall him priding himself as a linguist. I think he spoke a dozen languages fluently and had some type of command of a dozen more. He even wrote a book on learning languages.

Farber, who once ran for Congress and Mayor of New York City, was a character and a real personality of New York in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. His career was long and deep, working for WINS, WMCA, WABC, and others.  He also worked on Talk Radio Network and CRN Digital Talk Radio Networks.

So what can authors learn from Farber?  Here are seven lessons to embrace:

1.      Get to the point. Be concise and fast to state your strongest message point.

2.      Be argumentative. State an extreme viewpoint.  Put someone down. You need to have an enemy and build them up so you can tear them down.

3.      Speak with an accent or impediment, and in a non-monotone manner. Use inflection and feel free to scream. Your voice must stick out and command attention.

4.      Be quick to reference facts, public statements, or news events to support your argument.

5.      Do your homework. He did. Being prepared will help you debate anyone and make strong points.

6.      Argue the person, not just the facts. Ad hominem attacks work.

7.      Don’t look to play it safe, Be willing to piss people off. Controversy sells.

Barry, you antagonistic, pompous, in-your-face jerk, we will miss you. Thanks for supporting my dreams to pursue a career of words and ideas. May you keep broadcasting, wherever you are.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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