Changes are abound at 77 WABC in New York. But one constant for the News/Talk giant is Juliet Huddy. In three years at WABC, Huddy has been a pleasant, informed voice, albeit shifted from mornings to middays and back again. But in this climate, Huddy is persevering and even reinventing herself with a new travelogue show.
When she landed at WABC in 2018, Huddy was thankful for the opportunity presented by then-program director Craig Schwalb. She left Fox News in 2016 as one of the high-profile Bill O’Reilly sexual harassment accusers and quickly realized the industry was willing to keep her sidelined.
“I really was freaked out that I never was going to get a job in media again,” Huddy told Barrett News Media. “I didn’t think that I would have the problems that I did when I left Fox.”
Instead, her two-decade career at Fox that included a stint at the Fox New York affiliate almost felt whitewashed from the memory of any TV executives. Whether it was network, cable, or local, there were no takers for her talents.
“I started reducing my demands basically down to smaller markets, top 50 and then top 75,” Huddy said.
She had faith that TV honchos would read between the lines with her departure. But after several months, it was becoming abundantly clear that she would not get another TV gig, at least for the foreseeable future.
WABC would throw Huddy a lifeline to salvage her sinking career. Social media connected her with the station. Huddy sent a tweet based on something morning hosts Bernard McGuirk and Sid Rosenberg were talking about.
“Sid, of course, jumped on it,” she said.
An online conversation caught the eye of Schwalb, who invited Huddy to have a presence in the morning show.
“I owe everything to Sid and Craig Schwalb,” Huddy said.
Although delighted to get back on the air, there were awkward feelings for the veteran broadcaster as O’Reilly was a regular weekly guest with Bernie and Sid. She also learned that another frequent morning contributor Bo Dietl, the former NYPD detective, “had been tracking me down as one of the accusers.”
Huddy said, “It was just a strange place to work.”
Her comfort level also suffered directly from Bernie and Sid, who would show their allegiance to then-President Donald Trump. Huddy, who was a lifelong Republican, had been vocal in her opposition to Trump.
That, and her personal-turned-very-public allegations regarding O’Reilly also gave fodder for callers.
“I don’t know that some of the talent helped out with that, put it that way,” she admitted. “When you’re painted a certain way, you really need the time to explain yourself and talk through it with the listeners who are upset with you.”
Curtis and Juliet
Huddy didn’t have the platform with Bernie and Sid as the news person. Once she joined Curtis Sliwa to co-host the midday show, she had time to share her opinions but was now part of an ill-fated on-air “marriage.”
Since Sliwa’s longtime radio partner Ron Kuby was axed by WABC in 2017, it was a constant rotation of co-hosts, usually women— including Rita Cosby and Eboni K. Williams—before Huddy got the chance to sit next to Sliwa, the Guardian Angels founder.
“I felt very constrained. I felt like Curtis wanted me there as his sidekick, and I’m not a sidekick,” Huddy said.
Ironically, Sliwa was instrumental teaming with Juliet, but “in his mind, being so instrumental meant that he could be the boss of me.”
A lack of chemistry is one way to put it, and Huddy, who already had been in the business for 25 years, was flabbergasted by the reception from the radio legend.
“I never had an issue with my co-host, my colleagues, and talent. Never,” she said.
Huddy survived longer than most in the “modern era” with Sliwa, allowing him to “drive the bus.” But as the show dragged on, she realized her voice was being suppressed by his larger ego.
“That was when the dynamic between Curtis and [me] changed,” Huddy recalled.
Whether it’s the Sliwa experience or dealing with angry callers for her lack of loyalty to the GOP and Trump, Huddy said she’s not adverse to fighting back.
“I think I strive on chaos,” she said. “So, ultimately, I think it’s been a good experience.”
Move to Early Mornings
Prior to Sliwa’s apparent temporary departure from WABC, it became clear that Huddy could no longer work with him. Management offered a one-hour early morning news show at 5 a.m. with overnight host Frank Morano.
“That was not something I would have chosen,” she admitted. “The situation with Curtis was just getting tenuous. It was one or the other, I guess, and that was me.”
Huddy said the decision rested, ultimately, with Red Apple Media owner John Catsimatidis.
“He could have gotten rid of me,” she said. “That was another option.”
While not happy switching her body back to a pre-dawn broadcast, it did get her away from the anxiety with Sliwa, and based on the content; there was no longer a need to dump callers for using profanity toward her.
Having said that, Huddy is in the business long enough to read the tea leaves.
“The message was: ‘We don’t want you to have an opinion because it’s getting you into trouble, and it’s potentially alienating listeners,’” Huddy contended.
Making the best of the situation, she enjoys working with Morano and has a setup to go live from home, although most times, you’ll find Huddy in the Third Avenue studio. Shortly after its debut, the Early News was expanded to 6:30 a.m., boosting the lead-in for Bernie and Sid.
As part of the show that started in January, Huddy looks for stories to talk about that the “traditional” news stations would pass.
Her new co-host is good friends with her old co-host, and she said Morano is “instrumental in Curtis’ mayoral run,” but it doesn’t cause on-air issues because “he’s so easy to work with.”
While she “didn’t know what to make of” Morano initially, his work ethic has impressed her.
“He’s a really hard worker. He’s an amazing interviewer,” she said. “I think he’s got such a huge future.”
Plus, Morano defends his co-host against people who complain to him about why she’s still on the radio station.
“He’s got my back. I just really appreciate that,” Huddy said.
Within six weeks of her being taken off the midday show, Sliwa took a leave to run for mayor. Having won the Republican primary in June, at the very least, it keeps him off the air until November when he faces Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams in the general election.
Huddy said, “I’m guessing since he’s such a close friend of Catsimatidis, there will be space made available to him.”
Despite Sliwa’s leaving, Huddy did not make any overtures for getting her old timeslot back.
“I don’t even think it was really a thought in their mind, frankly,” she said. “[Catsimatidis] wants to bring his people in. I just knew the writing was on the wall about having my own show,” Huddy said.
A solo weekend show was another option, but staying on a daily work schedule, even if it meant waking up in the overnight, was more important for her not to “fade off into the oblivion.” For a full-blown return to talk radio, “I don’t know that it’s the right place or it’s the right time,” she admitted.
Jet Set Juliet
“I’m taking what life is giving me, and I’m making the absolute 100-percent best of it,” Huddy said.
Her evolution at WABC includes a passion for travel with a daily segment using her moniker Jet Set Juliet on the Early News. Although Sliwa always referred to her with that name, she’s not ready to give him credit for creating it.
“It came about while I was working with Curtis. I just don’t remember who came up with it,” she said. “I’d like to think that I did because it’s brilliant.”
Coming soon, Huddy will host a video podcast edited from trips she takes around the world. She’ll use the station Stage 77 set with its state-of-the-art technology to incorporate the multimedia mixed with her “stand-up” introductions.
It will get posted to the WABC website, and her social media feeds.
“With where I am in my life, how old I am (51), where my husband is and what we want from our future, my five-year plan is: I really want to be living over in Europe, and I want to be covering travel, giving you the American’s perspective about living life like a local.”
Keeping the Red Apple Shiny
Catsimatidis took over the legendary call letters in 2020 and quickly put his handprint all over 77 WABC. The billionaire businessman is the CEO of the Gristedes supermarket chain. The biggest difference from corporate owner Cumulus to Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Group can be found in two words: Family-run.
“That can be great, and that can be bad,” Huddy said. “One day you can have a great relationship with your boss, and then next day it might not be that great. That’s a lot different than the corporate environment.”
Right-wing talk is on the weekday lineup, but it is music that fills the frequency on Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Within months of Catsimatidis’ purchase, Bruce Morrow “Cousin Brucie” was brought back to WABC decades after leaving. Tony Orlando is also spinning classic hits and 970 WNYM host, and Saturday Night Live alum Joe Piscopo does a weekly Frank Sinatra.
“I know Catsimatidis loves that type of music,” Huddy said. “It’s his baby. He can do whatever he wants to it.”
That is another change from the Cumulus regime, freeing the schedule of brokered shows to beef up original WABC content on weekends.
The station just expanded the Rat Pack programming with Dean Martin’s daughter Deana and one-time American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis, a Tony Award nominee, who grew up in Brooklyn to Greek parents. Huddy thinks the family heritage endears him with Catsimatidis.
“I’m sure they love each other probably because of that connection,” Huddy said.
Incidentally, Huddy, a self-proclaimed “music freak,” proposed doing her own 1980s show. Nothing was offered by WABC brass.
While WABC under Catsimatidis has shown deep pockets, one area where they have gotten tight is in the news department. They abruptly ended a deal recently for iHeart to provide weekday newscasts. Curiously, program director Dave Labrozzi took over the midday anchor shift. Likely to keep it under the radar, Labrozzi briefly chose the on-air name, Rocco Lorenzo, before dropping any name altogether.
“It’s an unusual way to do things,” Huddy said. “But I’m not running a radio station. I never would want to, and I would never want to be a boss. I’m the last person to judge decisions being made like this. All the power to them. It could be an incredible trend.”
More conservative moves are on the talk front, led by Greg Kelly, who was plugged into (most of) Sliwa’s slot. The former Fox 5/WNYW morning co-host went right-wing with a popular Newsmax show.
“I’m just surprised at how right he has become,” she said of her former Fox colleague. “I never got that from him. Is he doing this for effect? Is he doing it to be more of an entertainer than journalist? I think when you’re working for Newsmax, you’ve got to look at people and think ‘that’s not necessarily journalism.’ I’m not sure where his head is.”
Station management and/or Catsimatidis himself will have a decision to make should Sliwa, 67, lose, as predicted, in the mayoral race.
“You’d have to look at the ratings to see who did better, as I’m guessing that’s what will dictate whether he’ll return to those hours or not,” Huddy said.
Kelly’s narrative is a perfect fit alongside the other station hosts. However, Huddy would like them to loosen up on the barrage of right-leaning talk by tapping into the growing number of Independents.
“I would hope that they would realize that, and they would start to maybe pick up on that,” she suggested.
Personally for Huddy, the working relationship with program director Labrozzi has improved since the Curtis fiasco ended.
“I don’t think he had a real understanding of who I was,” she admitted. “I don’t know why that was exactly. I have my ideas. We have a much closer relationship and camaraderie than we did before.”
By comparison, she misses working with Craig Schwalb, who took a flier on her and will “always have a ton of love for him.”
Her strong feelings for television aren’t going away either.
“I literally have dreams about it and it hurts my heart [when] I see a breaking news story and people that I used to work with covering it,” Huddy admitted. “It still gets me every single time.”
Jerry Barmash has been a fixture in New York radio for decades with anchor stints on WABC Radio and Bloomberg News. Jerry was also heard on WINS, WCBS and Wall Street Journal Radio. As a media writer, Jerry’s pieces were featured in Broadcasting & Cable, NY Daily News and Watercooler HQ. Jerry also hosts the interview podcast Here Now the News. He’s on Twitter @JerryBarmash and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should The News Be Minimized on The Holidays?
“I do wonder who is watching or listening or reading and what the return on efforting news programming on holidays really is.”
This is not by any means a new topic of discussion but I do enjoy bringing it up and batting it around because I think it’s worthy of regular consideration and deliberation. Perhaps it deserves even just a fresh batch of whining and complaining by those of us stuck in a newsroom, in front of a camera or microphone or standing out somewhere in the cold.
There’s no debate that what we do has a level of importance that fluctuates from time to time. There are countless professions that we cannot do without for even a portion of a single day. That said, working the holidays is not unfamiliar or even a question for many people out there.
I, myself have spent most of my adult life in professions where working on Thanksgiving, Christmas, the High Holidays, Independence Day among others was just part of the job. It still amazes me how many people would react in astonishment when I declined an invitation or mentioned in conversation that I was working that day.
Like they couldn’t comprehend the possibility. Must be nice.
Now, let’s be clear about this; covering a parade or a holiday festival or religious services on a particular day is not what I’m focusing on here. Imagine the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or New Year’s Eve or the 4th of July fireworks without reporters and crew coverage.
More people would actually have to go to these things.
No, I’m talking about regularly scheduled newscasts and field reports on these mornings, afternoons and evenings.
I don’t see it.
More specifically, who is measuring the need for this programming? I cannot identify sitting behind a desk (probably inside an office…what’s that like?) and concluding that there must be 4:00pm-6:30pm newscasts on Thanksgiving Day.
5am news on New Year’s Day is out and out sadism.
“Good morning and Happy New Year…here’s what’s happened in the twenty-three minutes since you went to bed.”
Yes, by all means, let’s open our presents with the soothing tones of morning drive news in the background or lounge in the living room after the two-ton turkey dinner and watch the daily rundown of criminal activity lovingly framed in holiday graphics.
Do people want to drive to Grandma’s house while listening to the latest in Tuesday’s home invasion- assault investigation, this morning’s hit and run fatality or the city council vote on funding a halfway house near the elementary school?
Actually, the inspiration for this semi-rant comes from a conversation I had with a woman I was speaking with about holiday getaway travel. She very innocently asked me why there is news on the holidays. “Who is watching…who is listening on a day like that?” I told her I really couldn’t say. Of course, this was someone who told me she didn’t even pick up a newspaper or peruse social media for a news update on any given holiday.
“On Christmas”, she said, “no news is good news.”
To a significant degree, I’m on board with that. I do wonder who is watching or listening or reading and what the return on efforting news programming on holidays really is.
This is not about those having to work although employee consideration should be part of the equation. There will always be the need to have someone in the newsroom but minimizing that requirement could never be a bad thing.
Many operations do work with reduced staff during the holidays and that’s great. Twenty-years ago the radio station group I worked for dropped most programming during the year-end holidays, simulcasting holiday music across all the stations only cutting in with station IDs, tracked greetings from staff and news updates only if necessary.
I suppose one could argue that people need to know what’s going on all the time so we are providing a necessary service but really, everything we do is on-demand whether we like it or not. Nobody is listening or watching or reading unless they make a conscious effort to do so. They have to turn the TV on and hit the channel, dial the car radio and click on the website. We have no say.
For me, somebody somewhere has to show me that there’s a need and a want for what we do on those special days and at those special times. Convince me.
In the meantime, move the turkey and stuffing closer to my side of the table and keep the cranberry sauce and yams over on your end.
And I’ll be up bright and early talking to the Black Friday shopping crowd.
Don’t get me started.
Bill Zito has devoted most of his work efforts to broadcast news since 1999. He made the career switch after serving a dozen years as a police officer on both coasts. Splitting the time between Radio and TV, he’s worked for ABC News and Fox News, News 12 New York , The Weather Channel and KIRO and KOMO in Seattle. He writes, edits and anchors for Audacy’s WTIC-AM in Hartford and lives in New England. You can find him on Twitter @BillZitoNEWS.
Seth Leibsohn Expected to Move to Phoenix, Didn’t Expect Radio Show
“There wasn’t a huge demand for a white male teaching Aristotle’s teachings. I kind of like the idea I can still teach on the air.
We’re all made up of a unique genetic recipe. Take a graduate student of political philosophy, add a pinch of love of contemporary politics, a dash of popular culture, maybe a trumpet, and you have Seth Leibsohn.
“I was a good trumpet player in high school,” Leibsohn said. Still, that alone wasn’t enough for him to pursue it as a career, even though his parents were fine with him chasing something he enjoyed, even supportive. “Some parents try to push you into a career, but my parents never did. I thought I might be able to play the trumpet as a career, but ultimately decided I wasn’t as good as my trumpet heroes. I’ve heard golfers have hung it up in a similar way.”
Quoting Del Griffith in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, ‘The finest line a man’ll walk is between success at work and success at home.’ To be truly happy you’ve got to have both. Seth Leibsohn couldn’t agree more.
“I don’t know many people who are thrilled with what they do for a living,” Leibsohn continued. “I believe you work to pay bills, not for life satisfaction. Billy Joel said there is no magic secret and everybody has happiness within themselves. If you’re truly happy with what you do, you have it all beat.”
The Seth Leibsohn Show airs live on KKNT 960 The Patriot in Phoenix from 3:00-6:00 PM weekdays. Then the show is replayed as a podcast. “The podcast is essentially the show I do,” Leibsohn said. “It’s fun. I never thought I’d be on the radio. I started in D.C. with a national show with Bill Bennett, The Bill Bennett Show, as co-host and guest host.”
You may recall Bennett was appointed the drug czar in 1989 under President George H.W. Bush. Bennett still does a podcast and Leibsohn appears as a guest about once a month. He was Bennett’s chief of staff for many years.
Leibsohn decided to move back to Phoenix in 2011 to take care of his parents.
“After I arrived I was approached to host my own show,” he said. “I like that it doesn’t have to be relegated to a local audience. I get calls from Texas, Chicago, Ukraine. Leibsohn describes himself as a ‘different’ radio host, “I started in academia,” he explained. “There wasn’t a huge demand for a white male teaching Aristotle’s teachings. I kind of like the idea I can still teach on the air. The show is a vital seminar, with a bigger classroom.”
Leibsohn works hard on the show as he doesn’t have a producer. “I have to find my own guests, which I average about one each day. Television show hosts don’t have to track down and book their own guests. I start reading from the moment I wake up, searching for something interesting, a guest that can provide some insight to a topic.”
He’s long been a staunch advocate against the legalization of marijuana. He headed the group ‘Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy’, which was instrumental in preventing the legalization of marijuana in Arizona. He has co-authored several articles with Bennett regarding the dangers of marijuana, which was picked up by numerous newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and The Tampa Tribune.
Doing whatever he can to rid the streets of drugs and the pollution of our children is essentially what make’s Libsohn tick. It may be more accurate to say it drives him.
When talking about ridding streets of drugs throughout the country, I was impressed that Leibsohn wasn’t hypocritical. He said he wasn’t above having a good time with friends in college, but recognized there was a time to stop.
“I partied with the best of them,” he said. “Then I saw four of my best friends, who were both far smarter than me academically, ultimately fail in their lives. They just couldn’t give up the partying and substances and succumbed to a lot of drug use.”
Another bolt of realization about the destruction of drugs for Leibsohn stems from his sister struggling with substances her entire life. “I guess I had more of a vector about what it could do to you. Drugs cause so many problems in our society. It’s an ongoing battle to protect our children.”
Working on reducing substance abuse in America has long been a passion for Leibsohn. Working with Bennett helped fuel that desire. Leibsohn spent time working for the Higher America initiative with Jeane Kirkpatrick.
Never a fan of Hilary Clinton, Leibsohn said he agrees with the former First Lady on one thing.
“Hilary said Mexico is a problem regarding illegal drugs, but if the citizens of America didn’t want the drugs, it would be a problem. People want this crud. Since we lost the anti-drug messaging system in America, the problems have spiraled out of control.”
Remember the old ad, ‘This is your brains on drugs?’ That’s the messaging Leibsohn is talking about. Leibsohn said when Bennett was drug czar, 10,000 Americans were dying each year. Since then the death toll has increased 1,000 percent.
“We reduced drug use by 65 percent in 1992,” Leibsohn said. “I attribute that to the messaging. It was hugely important. We embedded the anti-drug message at the movies, in schools, there was a Hollywood sobriety chic. We did for drugs what mothers did for drunk driving.”
Leibsohn cites Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he wrote, ‘Human desires increase with their means of gratification.’
“The narration in the television show Narco opens with the narrator talking about cocaine. He said they had a supply problem keeping up with the demand for the drug in Miami.”
Leibsohn intended to run for Congress in 2018, but his staff screwed-the-pooch.
“My campaign management didn’t get enough signatures,” Leibsohn said. “I made sure everyone who contributed to my campaign got their money back.” He said he has no biting need to run for office again.
Our conversation swerved into another contentious topic–immigration from Mexico. Leibsohn said our immigration problem is currently out of control.
“There are a lot of reasons for the problem,” he said. “I don’t think there’s one single answer or solution. I do know we’re giving billions of dollars annually to illegal immigrants. When the monthly numbers come out regarding the prison population in Arizona, the illegal immigrants count for a huge portion of those criminals.”
He said there have been good examples of cleaning up cities, like New York. “There are things that work,” Leibsohn explained. “We have to replicate those efforts and dump the things that don’t work. Indianapolis is another city that turned things around. There are theories that work when applied.”
Leibsohn spoke of disparate impact, when policies and rules have a disproportionate impact on a particular group.
“I think a lot of Left-wing prosecutors abhor statistics of racial minorities. In effect they turn a blind eye, a deaf ear when it comes to crime. I had hoped by now we could get beyond race, see policies enacted in my lifetime.”
We also talked about what constitutes American conservatism, which is delineated by low taxes, free markets, deregulation, privatization, and reduced government spending and government debt. Leibsohn thinks the definition of American Conservatism is more nebulous than that.
“I think American Conservatism has never had a good definition,” he said. “Perhaps the most prominent recent conservative was William F. Buckley Jr. He never wrote a book on American Conservatism as he said it was too diverse.”
Regarding pinpointing what American Conservatism actually is, Leibsohn said it’s really clay in the hands of those you ask. “Some say it’s a group that believes in limited government,” he explained. “There are some who will fold religious beliefs into that, some may add sociology.”
He said throughout his life, he’s always been in search of discovering the meaning.
“In Buckleys’ National Review Magazine, he debated this all the time,” Leibsohn explained. “He had always been in search of the meaning. In his magazine, Buckley debated this all the time. In my own view it should be a movement based on America’s founding fathers ethos–equity and liberty. There’s not a lot of agreement on these things today.”
Jim Cryns writes features for Barrett News Media. He has spent time in radio as a reporter for WTMJ, and has also served as an author and former writer for the Milwaukee Brewers. To touch base or pick up a copy of his book: On Story Parkway: Remembering Milwaukee County Stadium, available on Amazon, email email@example.com.
Producers Podcast: Andrew Marsh, 101 ESPN
Andrew Marsh of 101 ESPN in St. Louis details the unorthodox background that has helped him thrive in the producer’s chair for The Fast Lane.
Brady Farkas is a sports radio professional with 5+ years of experience as a Program Director, On-Air Personality, Assistant Program Director and Producer in Burlington, VT and Albany, NY. He’s well versed in content creation, developing ideas to generate ratings and revenue, working in a team environment, and improving and growing digital content thru the use of social media, audio/video, and station websites. His primary goal is to host a daily sports talk program for a company/station that is dedicated to serving sports fans. You can find him on Twitter @WDEVRadioBrady and reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.