Friday, May 15, 2020

Radio Interviewer of the Forteans, Barry Farber Dies

Radio talk show host Barry Farber, 90, died, of natural causes, on May 6, 2020.

His daughter tweeted on May 6, "My father Barry Farber, beloved, died this evening, at 6:45 pm. He was home, in bed, and we were all with him. He turned 90 just yesterday. He told me recently that his concept of death was 'going somewhere I've never been before, like Finland or Estonia.' May God rest his soul."

Called a "radio legend" and "talk radio pioneer" in the media notices of his death, Farber was remembered as a popular radio personality. He was active in radio from the mid-1950s, until the day before he died. Farber, who vowed never to completely retire from broadcasting, remained active on his CRN show until the day before his death, appearing to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Like his contemporary Long John Nebel (who died April 10, 1978), and the later successful radio host Art Bell (died April 13, 2018), Farber, born May 5, 1930, had many ufologists, Forteans, and cryptozoologists as guests on his radio show. 

One frequent interviewee was his friend, Ivan T. Sanderson, both of whom had apartments in New York City. Sanderson even took over as host of Farber's program when Farber ran for office. (See Sanderson's brief obituary in the New York Times.)

Barry Farber wrote and spoke extensively of his ability to speak and understand over 25 languages. 

"Long before the advent of Art Bell and company, New York radio had Long John Nebel and Barry Farber, both of whom frequently featured guests like Ivan Sanderson, John Fuller, and other popular [authors and investigators of the unexplained]." Joseph M. Felser, The Way Back to Paradise: Restoring the Balance Between Magic and Reason, 2005.
Besides Sanderson and Fuller, Farber hosted shows with ufologists Jerome Stanton, Timothy Beckley and Barry Cohen. It was on Barry Farber's WOR program that Woodrow "Woody" Derenberger's West Virginia UFO story of Indrid Cold rose to national attention. Farber also had on Derenberger's psychiatrist to give his reinforcing testimony of the credibility of the UFO encounter.

Barry Farber may have also interviewed fellow New Yorker John A. Keel, who did appear on Long John Nebel's show, but I cannot find any records of that appearance. Nevertheless, Farber was known as being interested in all matter of Forteana.

"The radio show Ivan was referring to actually belonged to the well-known conservative talk show host (and friend of Ivan), Barry Farber, himself a fascinating fellow who is a student of about 25 languages. As it happens, in 1970 Farber was running for Congress in New York City's 19th district on the Republican ticket, but was defeated by Bella Abzug. During the campaign, Farber was absent from his show much of the time and employed guest hosts to fill in for him. Ivan Sanderson hosted the show every Thursday night for 20 weeks, from 11:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. The show originated from WOR-Radio in New York, but was broadcast to stations in 38 U.S. states." 

"Ivan also made many appearances on other celebrities' radio shows, such as those of Arlene Francis and Mary Margaret McBride, who was a sort of cross between today's Barbara Walters and Martha Stewart. As talk show host Barry Farber later told me, he made sure that one of the first guests of his career was Ivan Sanderson, because he had read in one of McBride's books her declaration that the most fascinating radio guest to appear on her show in 20 years of broadcasting was Ivan Sanderson."~ Richard Grigonis, 2011.

Two summaries from CRN staffers note Farber's remembrances with Grigonis of Sanderson:

Barry Farber on CRN
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
1/5-Investigating the Unexplained

Barry and publisher RICHARD GRIGONIS share memories of IVAN SANDERSON, a respected naturalist and scientist who sacrificed his career to his outspoken belief in the "Yeti" (Abominable Snowman) and many other [cryptozoological] phenomena. Ivan theorized UFOs were "natural and organic". He founded SITU, the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A show with lower self-esteem might raise its voice at this and yell, “Special!” at what’s upcoming. RICHARD GRIGONIS of Newsmax and Barry are proud to have been best friends of a world-reknown unique scientist. The late IVAN SANDERSON of England was so resoundingly respected as a serious scientists with dozens of books to his credit that he was “allowed” to investigate phenomena such as the Bermuda Triangle, in which ships and planes simply disappeared with never a trace. Ivan founded the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained and that committee concluded there were certain zones – lozenges – inside which the world behaved differently. The Bermuda Triangle was one of them. Most of them were in the Far East. When Grigonis visits with Sara and Barry this evening the overhanging question will be: “What would Ivan Sanderson say about Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 and why should we care?”

Barry Farber's legacy was a long one, and he marked nine decades of an active life on his last birthday.


The following information is from the general entry on Barry Farber, found online at Wikipedia (May 2020).

Barry Morton Farber (May 5, 1930 – May 6, 2020) was an American conservative radio talk show host, author, commentator and language-learning enthusiast. In 2002, industry publication Talkers magazine ranked him the 9th greatest radio talk show host of all time. He also wrote articles appearing in The New York Times, Reader's Digest, The Washington Post, and the Saturday Review. He was the father of journalist Celia Farber and singer-songwriter Bibi Farber.

Farber was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Sophie (Marcus) and Raymond Farber, who both worked on the family's Jay-Ray Sportswear line. Farber was Jewish and grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina.

After nearly failing Latin in the ninth grade, that summer Farber started reading a Mandarin Chinese language-learning book. A trip to Miami Beach, Florida, to see his grandparents, coincidentally put him in the midst of a large number of Chinese navy sailors in training there. His Chinese rapidly improved.

Back in Greensboro, he took up Italian, Spanish, and French on his own before summer vacation was over. He started taking French and Spanish classes in his sophomore year and also learned Norwegian on his own while in high school. He graduated in 1948 from Greensboro Senior High School (see Grimsley High School).

He then attended the University of North Carolina, where he learned Russian. As a delegate from the National Student Association to what he later called a "Tito propaganda fiesta called the Zagreb Peace Conference", he found other Slavic languages were closely related to Russian. A 16-day boat trip back to the United States with Yugoslavs allowed him to practice his Serbo-Croatian. After covering the 1952 Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki, he learned Indonesian on another boat trip back to the U.S.

As a newspaper reporter in 1956, Farber was invited by the United States Air Force to cover the airlift of Hungarian refugees from the uprising in Hungary that year. In an Austrian border village, Farber later wrote, he so impressed a Norwegian man, Thorvald Stoltenberg, with knowledge of the man's native tongue that he was allowed to go on one of the covert missions smuggling Hungarians into Austria.

Farber had knowledge of more than 25 languages, including the ones mentioned above. He published a book titled How to Learn Any Language that detailed his method for self-study. It was based around a multi-track study of the language, the use of memory aids for vocabulary, and the utilization of "hidden moments" throughout the day.

Farber preferred to say that he was a student of a certain number of languages, rather than saying that he spoke them. Of the languages he studied, half he "dates" and the other half he "marries". According to Farber: "By languages I date, I mean no grammar and no script, languages like Bengali."

Aside from Bengali, the 25 foreign languages he studied include these 19 ("marriage" or "dating" specified, when known): Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Mandarin, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish (marriage), Swedish and Yiddish, as well as Bulgarian and Korean.

Farber's book, How to Learn any Language never specifies all of the 25 languages that his publicity materials say he studied. He said in the book that when he was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1952, he was "tested and qualified for work in fourteen different languages" and since learned more in some of those languages as well as the others. He mentioned in the 2005 interview that he still constantly learned bits and pieces of new language—some Albanian phrases or a new phrase each time he went into a grocery store where a Tibetan woman works.

His radio career began in New York City, working as the producer for the Tex and Jinx interview program from Peacock Alley in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, a live remote broadcast over WNBC in the mid-1950s at 10:30 PM to midnight, Monday through Friday.

William Safire hired Farber as a producer. Farber eventually hosted his own show on WINS.

Begun in 1960, his first talk show was 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 11pm. He left that job for an evening talk show on WOR in 1962, and then became an all-night host in 1967.

In November 1977, Kaiser Broadcasting debuted a weekly talk show hosted by Farber as a replacement to its program hosted by Lou Gordon, who died earlier that year, but it was short-lived.

Farber then joined WMCA for an afternoon drive time talk show, which lasted until 1989 when WMCA changed its format to Christian radio.

In 1990, he became a national talk-show host on the ABC Radio Network, which was trying to build a group of nationwide talk shows at the time. Lynn Samuels was forced to share her local WABC show with Farber which led to on-air confrontations, and resulted in her departure from the station. ABC's project later was abandoned, and Farber, Michael Castello, and Alan Colmes got together and quickly formed their own independent network called Daynet. He eventually joined Talk Radio Network as a weekend and fill-in host until that network ceased operations in 2017.

Farber then moved to CRN Digital Talk Radio Networks, hosting a one-hour weekday show.

Early in the 1970s, Farber was an adjunct professor of journalism at St. John's University in New York. Often, his former students are heard calling his radio program with admiring words and memories.

On the radio, Farber became easily identifiable by his unique combination of drawn-out Southern drawl, intense delivery, verbose prose, and quick wit. Sponsors loved his ability to deliver a live commercial spot, often ad-libbed, and make whatever the particular product was sound tantalizing; he always sounded like he truly believed in the product.

In 1991 he was named "Talk Show Host of The Year" by the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts.

In 2008 Farber married Sara Pentz, a television news reporter and journalist.

Farber was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2014.

In his youth, Farber fell in love with Norway, marrying Norwegian national Ulla Fahre and embracing the Social Democracy popular in that Scandinavian nation. During the 1960s his political commentary combined militant opposition to Soviet Communism with lavish praise for the achievements of Social Democracy, which he patriotically hoped America would one day adopt. But when the long-incumbent Swedish Social Democrats faced defeat at the polls, he began to re-examine his beliefs and would come to advocate the liberal economics popular among those called conservatives in America.

At onetime a Democrat, in 1970 he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in New York City's 19th district as the candidate of the Republican and Liberal parties, in a lively uphill race against Democrat Bella Abzug, the victor. In 1977, Farber left his talk-radio career for a time to run for Mayor of New York City as the candidate of the Conservative party, receiving almost as many votes as the Republican candidate, but vastly fewer than winner Democrat Ed Koch.

1 comment:

Connecticut 1776 said...

When I was a child in the mid-1970s, I remember listening to Barry Farber on WOR radio from New York. He was remarkable and very interesting interviewer, who had a tremendous effect on me for the better. I remember him well to this day. RIP