Joe Pyne: ‘Father of In Your Face Talk’
Joe Pyne made his mark in TV, but got his start in radio and had a definite influence on modern talk radio and talk TV. He was among the first talk show hosts on radio or TV to insult guests, and was entertaining aside from that.
“The first real game changer was Joe Pyne,” said Farber. “He was a real rough neck; a rude, crude, opinionated and he wasn’t as
smooth as Rush and wasn’t as brilliant as Rush. He was a former Marine. He had lost a leg. He was very good, and he was a game changer.”
Talkers Magazine called him the “father of in your face talk television.”
Before that, he built up quite a reputation on radio. “He was an early conservative groundbreaker,” Talkers editor Michael Harrison said of Pyne.
Pyne said he originated talk radio in the 1940s, and said his TV and radio shows would be about serious material. “I don’t interview
movie stars on their last picture,” he once said.
The Chester, Pennsylvania native enlisted in the Marines to light in World War II, where he lost his left leg. He became known for having a wooden leg, a characteristic that some fans of the show doubted, because they thought it could be part of his eccentric act, but it was true.245
He began his radio career at WCAM in Camden, New Jersey then moved into a local TV show on a Wilmington, Delaware station.
Pyne was on the right, but had a sense of equal justice when broadcasting in a segregated city. The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware reported that in the 1950s Pyne did his WILM broadcast from the English Grill restaurant in Wilmington. One of the guests he was to have on the show was black, and was denied service at the restaurant. “Pyne, who was setting up for his program, observed the goings-on and began packing up his broadcasting equipment to leave. He said he would do the show from the WILM studio rather than watch the injustice of Morris being refused service,” the newspaper said. “The English Grill manager backed off, obviously so he wouldn’t lose the publicity his business got through the Pyne show.”
Pyne headed west to Los Angeles for a spot on KABC in Los Angeles. On KABC Pyne railed against communists, the women’s movement
and President John F. Kennedy. The station even took him off the air temporarily on November 22, 1963, fearing he would say something inappropriate after the assassination.
He would generally say to callers, “It’s your nickel,” and referred to liberals as “meathead” long before anyone ever heard of the fictional Archie Bunker character.249 Some of Pyne’s favorite lines involved telling callers or guests whom he disagree to “gargle razor blades” or “take your false teeth out, put them in backward and bite yourself in the neck.”250 He would also say, upon becoming exasperated with a guest, “I could make a monkey out of you but why should I take the credit?”251 He told one caller, “Look lady, every time you open your mouth to speak, nothing but garbage falls out. Get off theline, you creep.”