Not many remember Joe Pyne now--he is generally ignored when people discuss the birth of conservative talk radio/TV. But ask anyone who remembers him and they will tell you that he was the father of 'in-your-face' talk television--though he began as a radio host. He was insulting people on TV long before it became hip or even simply normal. His program was quite literally "shocking", verbally and physically aggressive. Bob Grant was given his start by Pyne, who asked Grant to take over his radio show when Pyne moved into TV--it's strange to think of these guys as having or beings mentors in this field, but Pyne encouraged Grant (and others) to take up his singular and shocking style.

Pyne was a strange and seemingly dangerous guy--urban legends circulated about him, including one (which was true) about his having a wooden leg (World War 2 accident) which not everybody believed.  Pyne worked in radio on a number of small East Coast stations before he got his first television show in Deleware. He left for California in the late 1950s and, after a stint on LA radio, got a late night talk show on KTLA-TV.

Pyne was perhaps the first angry conseervative to let it all out on TV. He abhored hippies, homosexuals, draft-dodgers and used a trademark phrase "go gargle with razor-blades" to hang up on callers (he sometimes used it face-to-face with guests).  There were physical altercations on his show and all manner of dangerous and unsavory guests--he had on Manson family followers as well as Klan members. His show was so popular that it eventually was syndicated to over 200 markets.  But the cigarettes wound up doing to him just what they say on the side of every pack they are capable of doing to you. Lung Cancer took him out, age 45, in 1970.


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  1. Also looks like the origins of Jerry Springer and reality TV.

  2. Absolutely. Will get to them in a bit...and Morton Downey Jr.

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