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Challenges and Chaos Can’t Derail Juliet Huddy

“Huddy is persevering and even reinventing herself with a new travelogue show.”

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Photo Credit: WABC Radio

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.” 

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BNM Writers

End The Shtick: Mispronouncing Last Names Isn’t Funny

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Ah-det-oh-KOON-boh if you’re using the Yoruba pronunciation. Or, you say An-tet-oh-KOON-poh in Greek.

That’s how you properly pronounce the last name of Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s only one of the most popular players in the NBA, a two-time MVP and recently crowned champion.

When you’re preparing for a broadcast, taking the time to learn how to accurately say the name of one of the subjects should be the norm. It’s disrespectful not to. Google and YouTube can be your best friends for phonetic breakdowns.

End the shtick. Be better at your job.

Can you imagine if Mike Tirico and the dozens of other broadcasters working the Olympics for NBC just decided not to learn how to properly pronounce the last names of competing athletes? It would sound foolish.

This is where news anchors, in all size markets, deserve more recognition for properly doing their jobs. Do you know how quickly all credibility of a broadcast would disappear if the anchor refused to learn how to pronounce the names of foreign diplomats?

We need to stop giving sports broadcasters a free pass to sound uneducated.

Early in a broadcast career you’re basically a sponge. Personally, I liked to sit back, take notes, and really learn from those who have done it much longer than I could dream of.

Vividly I recall sitting in a very small, and hot, press box, shadowing a play-by-play broadcast for the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League. I doubt I was even cleared to talk on the radio yet, so it really was just a learning experience.

The Northwoods League is a summer baseball league for current college athletes.

Gabe Neitzel was calling the game for ESPN Madison, where I interned during school. Late in the broadcast I remember a representative from the opposing team approaching him and letting him know that he had been saying the last name of one of their players wrong.

He was pissed.

Not because someone had corrected him but because someone hadn’t corrected him sooner. There was a misprint in the pronunciation guide. Neitzel quickly fixed his error and continued calling the game.

Afterwards he said that he was a “broadcast diva” and liked to make sure he was saying everything correctly. I thought to myself, that’s not diva-ish at all, you just like to say names the right way. As the athlete probably very much appreciated. I know I did.

Listening to Tirico during the opening ceremonies, I enjoyed the effort he and his team put in to learning how to flawlessly say every single flag bearers name. That’s also why I get so frustrated when I hear Major League Baseball announcers refuse to acknowledge that some letters in Spanish are pronounced much differently than in English. Take a class. Rosetta Stone. Learn the basics.

Once again, Google is a great resource.

During the 2021 NFL Draft the Baltimore Ravens selected Odafe Oweh. Except until draft night he had gone by his middle name “Jayson” because he felt Odafe was too hard for others to pronounce. When he switched back to his real name he said people were just going to have to get used to it.

As they should. Good for you, Odafe. Sorry you felt you had to go by a different name for so long because others refused to adapt.

I don’t want to sound as if I am the most refined broadcaster in the world. Far far far from it. However, there is a certain level of respect, in my opinion, that comes with accurately saying someone’s name. Making up a nickname because you’re uncomfortable with the pronunciation isn’t the move. Purposely sounding ignorant isn’t either.

Side note: Giannis isn’t said with a ‘gee’ to start, it’s ‘yaa.’

Be professional.

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BNM Writers

Media Forced to Cover the News

In the piece, the Fox News talk host opined that Big Media was forced to cover the scourge of the inner-city violence epidemic after a recent shooting outside a baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

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CBS News

They say the key to effective humor is making sure the joke contains at least a little bit of truth. You get right up to the line and then hit the punch line, leaving your audience wondering exactly where the truth ended and the ridicule began.

Of this, Fox’s Greg Gutfeld is a master.

The comedian/television talk show host has a knack for hitting home with real people, by feeling what they feel and expressing those thoughts in a cogent, funny, and often irreverent manner. 

Last week, Gutfeld penned an opinion piece on FoxNews.com, in which he took aim at the mainstream liberal media, specifically CNN. The title of his piece was Greg Gutfeld: The crime problem the media pretends doesn’t exist actually found them at a baseball game.

In the piece, the Fox News talk host opined that Big Media was forced to cover the scourge of the inner-city violence epidemic after a recent shooting outside a baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Many fault the corporate media for downplaying the escalating violence and rioting in Democrat-controlled inner cities in recent years.

Gutfeld, co-host of the networks The Five, and host of Gutfeld!, says the recent incident forced their hand and made them discuss the issue.

“Now obviously CNN covered the shooting, doing live shots outside the center field gate,” Gutfeld wrote on FoxNews.com. “Why is that important? Because it was refreshing to finally see CNN cover a crime story. For once. If you watched their network you were told crime was largely made up of hysteria. Just an idea, but nothing real.”

In reading Gutfield’s comments, one can recall the infamous clip of the reporter standing in front of fire-filled riots last year, telling viewers it was a “largely peaceful protest.” 

Gutfeld had previously commented that the only way big, corporate media would cover crime is if they were impacted. This game, he said, forced them to face the issue and report the facts that have been affecting much of America, outside the media bubble.

“For a brief moment that bubble popped Saturday night at a baseball game – where the true reality of our crime epidemic hit home, or rather home plate,” Gutfeld wrote. “They got a taste of how the rest of DC lives. Where policies the media supports have turned their neighborhoods into a John Wick movie.”

Gutfeld will continue to be irreverent, as he has been since he joined the network in 2007. He’ll surely continue to deride and mock the Left and their establishment media elite, right up to the line.

He summed up his piece, writing, “So will they learn any lessons from this? Will they reexamine their news coverage, especially regarding crime, and how they dropped that ball when it should have been a routine catch? Of course not. They’ll forget about it by tonight. And say the game was postponed due to climate change.”

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BNM Writers

Tony Katz: Facebook Should Act Like a Platform, Not a Publisher

Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told Fox News reporter Peter Doocy that the government is partnering with Facebook to quash misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines.

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If you have ever been censored, throttled, or banned from Facebook or any other social media platform because of your political beliefs, it’s likely that you will agree that we are witnessing the erosion of our right to free speech.

Big Tech has gone out of its way to censor conservative voices. The most prominent example, former President Donald Trump who was banned from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter following the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a statement several months ago accusing Trump of undermining the “peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor.” A bold assertion from a man whose company routinely allows content to be published that depicts things like underage sex, self-harm, fake news, and anti-police rhetoric.

While some prominent conservatives like Candace Owens, Tucker Carlson, and Charlie Kirk have pushed back against the obvious bias being carried out by Big Tech, censorship continues at a rampant pace.

Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told Fox News reporter Peter Doocy that the government is partnering with Facebook to quash misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines. Psaki’s statement sent shockwaves through the conservative talk community, fueling speculation that Silicon Valley is just an extension of the mainstream media dominated by liberals.

Award-winning Indianapolis radio host Tony Katz spoke to Barrett News Media this week about the Facebook platform. Tony Katz and the Morning News airs weekdays on 93.1FM WIBC. He also hosts the Midwest syndicated Tony Katz Today radio program.

Ryan Hedrick: Do you routinely make use of Facebook to promote your show?

Tony Katz: Yes. Facebook.com/tonykatztoday

RH: How should Facebook decide what’s allowed on its social network?

TK: Facebook should act as a platform, not a publisher. Outside of overt calls for violence, child endangerment or flagrant pornography (what one could consider accepted standards), Facebook should stay out of editing content.

RH: How aggressively should Facebook monitor and remove controversial posts?

TK: With the poor job they do of defining “controversial,” the aggression level is immaterial.

RH: Have you experienced being banned or warned?

TK: Once we had a post that got a warning

RH: Is Facebook good for democracy?

TK: It’s not as good as a free press that is more interested in journalism than narrative, but it doesn’t hurt.

RH: Do you feel Facebook has become a monopoly?

TK: Popularity is different from monopoly. Still time for people who can write big checks to invest in tech companies that will embrace free speech. Same with investing in film, TV, and publishing.

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