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Talk Radio Research Project
Heavy Hundred 2001
Week in Review
of Talk Radio 2002 Edition
at the Heritage Foundation
Ask anyone who remembers Joe Pyne and they will tell you that he was the
father of in-your-face talk television. He was insulting people on TV
long before it became hip. As a matter of fact, his program was truly
“shocking.” It was verbally aggressive and at times even physically
violent. Pyne was a strange character, unlike anything anyone had ever
seen on national television. There were all kinds of urban legends circulating
about him. People wondered if he was just performing an “act.”
Even the fact that he had a wooden leg added to his mystique. When it
first became known, not everyone believed it.
Pyne worked in radio on a number of small East Coast stations before he
got his first television show in Wilmington, Delaware. He left for California
in the late 1950s and, after a stint on Los Angeles-area radio, got a
late night talk show on KTLA-TV.
Pyne was perhaps the first angry conservative to let it all out on TV.
He made no bones about insulting or verbally assaulting his liberal guests
or any public figure with whom he disagreed. He often would begin the
interview with an insult just to put his guest off. His trademark phrase
became, “I could make a monkey out of you but why should I take
Pyne’s show became so popular it was eventually syndicated to over
200 markets by the late 1960s. But most of today’s younger talk
fans never got to know Joe Pyne because, a heavy smoker, he died of lung
cancer at age 44 in 1970.