lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Sep 23 11:48:25 MDT 2002
NY Times, Sept. 21, 2002
On the Air Again, Still Contrary
Steve Post was in familiar mode, deploring commercialism on public radio.
Then he caught himself. "Here I go," he said on the phone, "criticizing the
hand that bites me."
Knocked off the air last year by recurrent cancer and then the loss of the
WNYC antenna atop the World Trade Center, the famously contrarian Mr. Post
is back, host of a new weekly show called what else? "The No Show."
Although he opened on Sept. 7 with what he called "the worst case of nerves
you could ever imagine" probative of Post's First Principle: "Anxiety
abhors a vacuum" he was quickly once again defaming authority and
delivering news and commentary with unabashed bias.
Why, he asked on the air last Saturday, was there never any danger after a
nuclear leak? (Or so, he said, the customary statement after the latest
mishap at the Indian Point 2 power plant, had it.) "How can it possibly be
that there has never been a threat to public health and safety?" he asked.
"Where does all this stuff go?" For today's show, he threatened to tell a
story about his racketeer cousin.
Lean and balding with a bristling moustache and intense stare, Mr. Post,
58, is less prickly than his on-air persona, friends say, calling him at
heart a "marshmallow."
The hourlong show, broadcast at 4 p.m. on Saturdays on WNYC-FM (93.9) and
repeated on Fridays at 7 p.m. on WNYC-AM (820), is far from the
15-hour-a-week "Morning Music" program (since killed) that was his on the
FM dial for 20 years. But all things considered, "The No Show" might have
been no show at all.
"Management had sort of been making it clear to me that they didn't
particularly want me on the air in the morning," Mr. Post said with typical
delicacy in a chat on Sept. 6 with his fellow WNYC host Leonard Lopate, who
called him "our grumpy curmudgeon." Which may not be all that surprising
considering that Mr. Post has been appalling (WNYC's word) station managers
about as long as he has been nurturing the counterculture with his
unbridled air style, which is to say about as long as he has been in radio
"He's not a touchy-feely guy," said Dean Cappello, WNYC's vice president
for programming and Mr. Post's premier handler, along with Frank
Millspaugh, the program's producer and Mr. Post's alter ego and old boss at
the nonprofit WBAI-FM (99.5). But Mr. Cappello said: "The reason we all
love Steve, whether you're a listener or work here, Steve has a problem
with authority. He's the man against the system."
Larry Josephson, the public radio veteran and a fellow survivor of the
strife-wracked WBAI, voiced doubt that the WNYC bosses were that enamored
of Mr. Post, but he warmly saluted his return. "He's the truth teller at
WNYC, to the extent they let him be," Mr. Josephson said, comparing Mr.
Post to an announcer from Radio Free Europe, broadcasting behind the Iron
Curtain in the days of the cold war. "You have to read between the lines,"
he said. "Steve is the closest thing we have to Lenny Bruce. Public radio
is safe, bland and boring, and he isn't."
Mr. Post's first "No Show," coming days before the Sept. 11 anniversary and
cast as a memorial tribute, was uncharacteristically sedate, with mournful
jazz and classical selections. He told a long story about his West Side
apartment super, a bomb-squad detective who narrowly avoided death at the
World Trade Center last year and never went back to police work. And he
told a little about growing up in the Bronx and about occupying that rare
find, a rent-controlled apartment, where he lives with his wife, Laura
Rosenberg, a classical-music manager.
But when it came time to read what WNYC calls an "underwriting spot" and
what critics disparage as commercials Mr. Post turned churlish. "As we
all know, the business of public radio is business," he began, before
delivering the requisite plug for Expo Design Center. "That's how they
judge the program," he interjected, "by how well or sincerely you read the
He read another spot, for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, without
comment, but in the past he once asked why hospitals had to advertise for
sick people were't there enough of them? and signaled his displeasure
by rushing through the text at breakneck speed.
Steve Post's shows are online at: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/noshow
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