WO Interviews Sam Zherka

Phil Reisman, the star feature columnist of Gannett’s Journal News, has famously called him an “agent of chaos.”  That may be a stretch.  But in any telling, Sam Zherka is a colorful, flamboyant and controversial Westchester entrepreneur who has extensive real estate holdings.  And his very “diverse” portfolio also includes at least two Manhattan strip clubs and a weekly newspaper:  The Westchester Guardian.  Zherka is also a most outspoken and surprisingly articulate advocate for the First Amendment, due process and Constitutional rights.

However, in September of 2014, life took a bad turn for Zherka when FBI agents arrested the Albanian dynamo for a long litany of charges which included, among other things, conspiracy to commit loan fraud.  He’s now cooling his heels in the Metropolitan Correctional Facility down at 150 Park Row in lower Manhattan after prosecutors persuaded the judge he was a flight risk and/or a “danger to the community.”

In light of these recent developments … our 2010 WVOX interview with the outspoken provocateur is still timely and very interesting …

                                                                                               – – – W.O.

William O’Shaughnessy:
We have a special guest today … I’m afraid he’s a very controversial guy.  But first a brief reminder about Election Day fast approaching.  A reminder, a caution actually, from Ogden Nash.  I met Ogden Nash’s granddaughter in Manhattan recently … and he wrote a wonderful couplet I think is so appropriate for Election Day.  “They have such refined and delicate palates … they can find no one worthy of their ballots.  And then when someone terrible gets elected, they say: There!  That’s just what I expected.”  So this is an important election and I know listeners to this radio station will do the right thing and vote.  We have live in our Westchester studios today Sam Zherka.  He is the man of the moment in the Golden Apple, Westchester.  He’s a newspaper publisher and a controversial entrepreneur.  He’s younger than I thought.  He’s an attractive guy.  I just hung up with Phil Reisman, the star feature columnist of the Journal News, who claims to be your greatest champion and advocate.  I’m not sure he’s serious.  Sam Zherka … you’re a man of many parts. 

Sam Zherka:
Thank you Mr. O’Shaughnessy for having me. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
I usually ask this question last … what do you want on the gravestone?  Sam Zherka … ?

Sam Zherka:
I’m not even sure I want a gravestone.  I tell this to my wife:  when I’m gone, it doesn’t matter where you put me.  You can put me in a plastic bag in the garbage.  Bury me … burn me … it doesn’t really matter.

William O’Shaughnessy:
How old are you?

Sam Zherka:
I’m 42 years old.

William O’Shaughnessy:
And you’re in really good shape.  Do you work out?

Sam Zherka:
Yes … actually I train in martial arts … mixed martial arts and I just got back into doing some weightlifting.  But I haven’t lifted weights in about ten years because I’ve been training mixed martial arts for nine of those ten years. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
I said you’re controversial … I’ve got to tell you in the intimacy of this room, a lot of people are afraid of you in this county.  I’m not afraid of you …

Sam Zherka:
No … there’s no reason for anyone to be afraid of me.  I’m really a straight guy.  I’m a straight guy. But the people who are afraid of my are not straight.  Politicians, as we all know, they fear people who stand up and speak the truth and are not afraid of speaking the truth.  And I’m one of those guys.  I would like to see more people stand up and speak out against political politicians nationwide and countywide and statewide.  I think if more people took part, we’d have a better system. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

As you have done, and in case someone among our listeners, and we’ve got a very savvy listening audience, Mr. Zherka … in case someone’s been living in Mars and they don’t know, you scored a monumental victory.  Was this in Federal Court?

Sam Zherka:
Yes, it was.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Who was the judge?

Sam Zherka:
The Honorable Judge Cathy Seibel.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Now tell us what happened.  You sued the living hell out of the mayor of Yonkers, where true love conquers, Phil Amicone:  And as I understand it, he didn’t like what you were writing about.  What were you saying that was so bad about Amicone?

Sam Zherka:
Well … what triggered the avalanche was a front page article that depicted the mayor of Yonkers … Amicone … and the former Mayor Ernest Davis from Mount Vernon …

William O’Shaughnessy:
I like Ernie Davis … you were picking on him?

Sam Zherka:
We were picking on him … yea … under their pictures read the words “Dumb and Dumber.”  Amicone being dumber.  We like taking Free Speech to its limits.  And we put out the newspaper and it said: “Tale of Two Cities:  Dumb and Dumber.”  And after we put out that newspaper, our news racks started disappearing.  And there came a time after a week or two … almost all of our news racks were gone.  I think we were left with one news rack in the entire city and it was on State property.  That’s why they couldn’t take it.  And there was a camera right above the news rack.   So they confiscated 56 news racks. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Who confiscated them?  Who took them off the streets? 

Sam Zherka:
City workers.  DPW workers confiscated the news racks.  What added insult to injury was then they used police power … the Yonkers Police Department … to stop our distribution. They threatened our drivers.  They threatened our distributors.  They gave them criminal summons for distributing a newspaper on public property which is constitutionally protected.  And they know it. We all know it.  But they did it anyway.  It was content based.  They basically tried to annihilate the First Amendment.  They tried to put the Westchester Guardian out of business in Yonkers because of what we wrote about them.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Is that the name of your paper?  It’s a weekly … the Westchester Guardian?

Sam Zherka:
Yes.  The Westchester Guardian.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Is it a serious paper?

Sam Zherka:
Absolutely!  Absolutely.  It’s a very serious paper.  I’ve poured millions of dollars into that paper.

William O’Shaughnessy:
What’s the headline this week?

Sam Zherka:
Oh … I don’t know.  I’m not really involved in the day-to-day operations of the paper.

William O’Shaughnessy:
You keep it going and you sustain it.   But what do you want?  You’re the publisher.  What do you want to do with the paper?  What do you think you can do with the paper?

Sam Zherka:
What I was planning about three years ago was on expanding to Manhattan and the Bronx.  We purchased 845 additional news racks.  I have them in storage.  And we were going to move out to the Bronx and Manhattan and cover Westchester and we were going to add Putnam to our distribution.  We were looking at actually picking fights with politicians not just in Westchester County but in Putnam County and Bronx County and Manhattan County.  Unless we use the Constitution which was originated for the people to restrain government … well, you have government gone wild!  And that’s what we see today … government gone wild.  And we want to use the Constitution and the First Amendment to restrain government in every aspect.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Alright, so you hauled the elders of Yonkers, the whole damn lot of them in city hall, into Federal Court.  What happened in this landmark decision?

Sam Zherka:
It was great!  We had an educated jury.  We had a great judge.  We had a great legal team.  Lovett and Bellantoni.  Rory Bellantoni being a former Acting Supreme Court Judge.

 William O’Shaughnessy:
He represented you?  He’s a brave guy. He made a good decision a few years ago …   

Sam Zherka:
The Richard DeGugliemo decision … he’s a good judge … he was a good judge. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
That’s a great family, the Bellantonis.

Sam Zherka:
Absolutely, the Bellantoni family is a good family.  We hauled them into court and we had a great jury who understood the issue and the importance of preserving the First Amendment not just for Sammy Zherka and the Westchester Guardian, but for Bill O’Shaughnessy and for everyone on this radio station and every radio station and for everyone who wants to speak and everyone who wants to disseminate an opinion, everyone who wants to disseminate news, everyone who wants to voice themselves and express themselves and practice religion.  That decision and that verdict was a victory for every single person in Westchester and New York and the United States of America.  It shows our elected officials and appointed officials and government officials that the Constitution is there for the people … for the people.  And if you attempt to stifle the First Amendment there’ll be hell to pay … and Amicone is paying hell right now! 

William O’Shaughnessy:
What do you mean?  How much? 

Sam Zherka:
$8 million verdict against Amicone personally …

William O’Shaughnessy:
Who gets the $8 million?

Sam Zherka:
The employees of the Westchester Guardian.  Those who were threatened with arrest.  Those who were harassed.   The editor … the former editor of the Westchester Guardian Richard Blausberg.  They all will divide the $8 million up evenly. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Do you think you’re ever going to see that money?

Sam Zherka:
Yes … we might not see the full $8 million dollars.  But we will see a big chunk of it and I did promise everyone who worked for me and I promised everyone that was listening that I will make Phil Amicone a poster child of what happens to someone when they mess with the First Amendment. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Does City Hall have insurance against this kind of thing?

Sam Zherka:
I don’t know … I’d like to let the listeners know how important this victory is.  Every single day we have our boys and girls sacrificing their lives in wars in other countries – in Afghanistan and Iraq – boys and girls who are dying – in trying to defend the exact freedoms that Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone tried to desecrate and tried to annihilate.  So what message do we send to the parents who lost their sons and daughters when we allow guys like Amicone who perpetuate  themselves as being government officials … we allow them to desecrate the same document and the same freedoms our boys and girls are dying for.  So I’m really adamant and I’ll say it in front of anyone and everyone … I will chase Amicone to the end of the earth … even it takes me a year or five years.  And I will spend anything and everything needed to collect that money for those people who were most affected.  And I’m going to stick to that. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Our guest is Sam Zherka … it is 22 minutes passed high noon on this Friday before the weekend here in the Golden Apple.  His name is Sam Zherka.  We all owe him a debt of gratitude.  I’m sort of late to the party.  I didn’t know much about you. You have another life.  You own a few “colorful” venues … can I use the word strip club?

Sam Zherka:
You can use strip club … colorful venue … you can use gentleman’s club.  Whatever you call it, is fine with me.  I’m proud of everything I do and that’s fine.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Sam Zherka … didn’t you also do restaurants?

Sam Zherka:
Yes. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
I like the guy a lot … Jimmy Rodriguez … were you partners with him … or are you partners now?

Sam Zherka:
No, I was not partners with Jimmy Rodriguez.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Where did I get that idea?

Sam Zherka:
I’ll tell you where you got the idea.  One of my partners J.R. Morales, who was a former detective, was partners with Jimmy Rodriguez and then bought Jimmy Rodriguez out of a restaurant called Sofrito on 57th Street and Fifth Avenue.  And J.R. was my partner.  He wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for me.  So I’d like to pat myself on the shoulders for that one.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Rodriguez … he’s got a place called Don Coqui … you see it from the Thruway, you can’t get in there Friday, Saturday.  You’ve got to go Monday night and the food is good.  The service is terrible the rest of the week.  They can’t handle the crowds.  Don’t you wish you had a piece of his action?

Sam Zherka:
You know … I’ll have to give him a call and see if he’ll sell me a piece of his action! 

William O’Shaughnessy:
You’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse. 

Sam Zherka:
I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse!

 William O’Shaughnessy:
I like him … he’s attractive in the same way you’re attractive.  I think he believes what he’s doing … and you sure believe what you’re doing.  636-0110 if you want to get in on this conversation with publisher and entrepreneur … colorful, controversial  Sam Zherka.  You don’t have to tell me this … but who are you voting for on Tuesday?

Sam Zherka:
I’m voting against every single incumbent whether it’s a Republican or Democrat.  It doesn’t matter.  If you’re an incumbent – you’re out!  And I’d like to say one thing to the listeners.  We possess in our power something that’s more powerful than a gun.  More powerful than a canon.  More powerful than an atomic bomb.  We possess in our powers something that can overthrow an American administration, an entire government.  And that’s our right to vote.  We must use that power this November 2nd and send a clear message to every single incumbent that the people are using that power and we want to be heard and we’re taking back our government.  And the only way to send that message is to go out into those booths and  vote and I’m  not telling  anyone who to vote for, but I would say to send a clear message to our government we have to vote every single incumbent out of office.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Well, the lines are jumping!  Sam Zherka … are you a Tea Party Guy? 

Sam Zherka:
Absolutely.

William O’Shaughnessy:
What does that mean to be a Tea Party guy?

Sam Zherka:
The Tea Party, although the press says and tries to churn it and make it a whacko organization, is not.  A Tea Party is basically people who are fed up with government.  Fed up with predatory taxation.  Fed up with corruption. Fed up with excessive taxation.  It’s a group of people who are everyday Americans who get up every single morning and go to work and are just fed up.  Fed up with the corruption and just don’t trust the government anymore.

William O’Shaughnessy:
You know, Sam Zherka, we’ve had some weirdoes and whackos before in this country.  They’re named Madison … Jefferson … Hamilton … Patrick Henry … Thomas Paine. 

Sam Zherka:
Yes … they are our forefathers.

William O’Shaughnessy:
You have a way with words.  Why don’t you … will you let me class you up for a minute.  Will you get out of the strip club business and go on the stump?  Why don’t you become a politician?

Sam Zherka:
Never … I would never do it.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Why?

Sam Zherka:
It’s like taking a person who is not a prostitute and putting them in a room with 100 prostitutes.  Ultimately, you either become a prostitute or those 100 prostitutes oust you.  I’m not a prostitute.  I’ll never be a prostitute.  I like to be on the sideline and I like to take on the prostitutes.

William O’Shaughnessy:
You’ve got a way with words publisher Zherka.  12:27 … let’s go to the phones.

Caller:
Yes …good afternoon, gentlemen.  This is Frank from Byram.  Big admirer of Mr. Zherka. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Why?

Caller:
I think he embodies the American dream and what it is all about.  He never forgot where he came from and he’s trying to make it right for everybody else who is on their way up the ladder.  And let me tell you something about Phil Amicone.  When he was the deputy mayor over there in Yonkers they pulled the same thing on a woman who currently today is a city councilwoman in Yonkers.  A woman named Joan Granowski.  She worked for the City of Yonkers and Amicone was the deputy and Spencer was the mayor … they violated her civil rights.  And they all told her … you don’t stand a chance going against city hall.  And guess what?  She beat them in Federal Court also.  So my hat’s off to that woman.  My hat’s off to Mr. Zherka.  He’s what America needs.  Let’s put it that way.  He’s what this country is all about.   And I’m proud of him when he says I wouldn’t be a politician because he’s absolutely right in his characterization of 99.99% of them.  The only one I’ll leave out is that woman over in Yonkers who beat them in city hall and then ran for office and guess what?  To this day she’s a thorn in the side of Amicone …  Amicone and Spencer … the ones who gave her the business.  Well now she’s seeing to it that the people of Yonkers are protected against a guy like Phil Amicone to the best of her ability and hats off to her too! 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Would you vote for Zherka if I could sort of twist his arm? 

Caller:
I would vote for Zherka in this sense.  If he created the Zherka Party and he put his imprimatur on it and his stamp of approval on it saying this is the party you can trust … these are the guys you can believe in  … then I would be behind them.  Because for five years now I’ve been hearing that the D.A. down in Manhattan is ready to indict him.  The D.A. up in Westchester – DeFiore, the other fraud who can’t make up her mind what side of the aisle she’s on – she was going to indict him.  The Feds are indicting him.  Everybody’s indicting him and guess what … he just beat them in Federal Court for $8 million!  And I hope Amicone’s got to go to whoever he’s got to go to and go out on the street to get the $8 million.  And for the next thousand years he’s paying back the $8 million he’s got to give Sam Zherka.

Sam Zherka:
Thank you … I just want to say one thing with regard to all these investigations.  I openly challenged, everyone, Everyone!  No one knows better than you whether you have skeletons in your closet.  I have a clean closet.  The only thing in my closet is my clothing.  I challenged the Manhattan D.A.  I challenged the Westchester D.A.  I challenge anyone on this line and anyone anywhere who says Sam Zherka ever did anything wrong.  Now, in Westchester County, Free Speech is a crime.  But we’re bringing that back.  We’re un-criminalizing Free Speech and we’re going to attack anyone who attempts to un-criminalize it.  Namely, dirty politicians. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Sam … are you sure you’re not using the First Amendment and Free Speech to distract from any other “entanglements” this guy just mentioned?

Sam Zherka:
Look … I just said it before.  No one knows better than you or me or whoever is being accused of something whether or not they have anything in their closet. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
True …

Sam Zherka:
I have nothing in my closet … but my shoes and my clothing.  And I’m a proud father of eight.  I have eight kids.  And I like who I’m looking out at when I’m looking in the mirror.  And I enjoy and I respect the man my kids call Dad.  And I will not … whether it’s a D.A. or an A.D.A. – whoever it is – a law enforcement official or politician!  I will not tolerate them trying to demean me or trying to criminalize what I do when all I do is exercise Free Speech all over content because they don’t like to be criticized.  Well … wake up D.A. or A.D.A. or law enforcement people or political people.  This is America.  We will criticize you.  We will opine you.  We will write about you.  And if you don’t like it, move to Cuba.  That’s my attitude and advice to any politician, whether it’s the D.A. or a police officer or an elected official or an appointed official.   If you don’t want to be written about or if you don’t want to be discussed … or if you don’t want to have anybody having an opinion of you – negative or positive – move to Cuba. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Or Albania!

Sam Zherka:
Actually Albania is a democracy now!

William O’Shaughnessy:
Or Romania!  Which was the one who had the dictator?

Sam Zherka:
Albania.  Albania was a Communist country … Romania is a Democracy now.  How about Somalia!  We’ll send them to Somalia.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Sam Zherka … you’re a good talker. But with eight children I think you do a little more than talk.  What about your wife?  She’s the hero.  How old are these children?

Sam Zherka:
Yes, my wife is a hero, I have to say. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
What’s her name? 

Sam Zherka:
Carmella.  She’s a hero.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Could she have been an Italian girl?

Sam Zherka:
She’s Italian … she’s Sicilian. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Mario Cuomo says she’s not even Italian … if she’s Sicialian. 

Sam Zherka:
He’s right … if you ask my wife if she’s Italian, she’ll say no … I’m Sicilian! 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Eight children … how old?

Sam Zherka:
I have quadruplets!  I have a 21-year-old.  A 19-year-old.  Two daughters 21 and 19.  I have a 16-year-old son.  A four year-old daughter. And I have four boys that are two!   Luca, Damian, Maximus and Beckham. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Fabulous names … so you’ve changed a few diapers!

Sam Zherka:
I changed about 30 diapers on Friday and Saturday!   Actually Saturday and Sunday are my days to take care of the kids so I change about 30 diapers a day on Saturday and 30 diapers a day on Sunday! 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Are you a good father?

Sam Zherka:
I’m the best father!

William O’Shaughnessy:
What makes a good father?

Sam Zherka:
I spend time with my kids.  I educate them.  I show them a lot of love and respect.  I teach them what’s right and wrong.  I do the same thing my father did with me I do with my kids. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
First of all … on your cell phone you still use the name Sammy Z.  Why don’t we dump that and be “This is Mr. Zherka?” I can have John Harper do a recording “This is Samuel Zherka’s phone” right now … why don’t you dump that Sammy Z stuff?

Sam Zherka:
I tell you why … because I’m in my 40’s now and a lot of my kids friends call me Mr. Zherka.  I don’t like it because it makes me feel old.  Sammy Z is what everybody called me when I was 18, 17 and 19, 21 and 25.  And you know what?  I still feel like I’m 18 years old … so I want to carry that through until I’m about 90.  And when I’m 90 … I’ll change it to Mr. Zherka. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Are you a typical suburban father?  Do you coach soccer and baseball Little League?  Do you do that stuff?

Sam Zherka:
No … I don’t coach any of that stuff. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
I think you’d be a great coach!

Sam Zherka:
I do take my son to wrestling. He’s an avid wrestler.  And I take him to all his matches and practices and all that kind of stuff.  But I’m really not into sports other than martial arts and wrestling for my son.

William O’Shaughnessy:
No hockey?

Sam Zherka:
No … I’m a business guy and a father.  That’s it.  I’m a very proud father and I’m a business guy.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Sam Zherka … you say you ain’t for anybody now holding office.  Isn’t there one?  Name one good guy … or good dame who’s doing a good job at the people’s business?  Just give me one!  Someone who has commended themselves to your favorable judgment …

Sam Zherka:
Here’s the problem … I can’t name one.  And why?   You do have some good people who run for office.  But unfortunately they’re controlled by the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.  Anytime you have a monopoly on the political process like we do right now, you have a problem and everybody becomes a puppet.  So you do have a lot of good people who have become puppets.  And once you’ve become a puppet in my eyes, I can’t consider you a good person anymore.  If we had two companies controlling industry it would be called a monopoly and the Federal government would step in and turn those two companies into ten different companies.  Right now we have a monopoly with the Democratic Party and the Republican Party and nothing good can come out of any monopoly.  They have a monopoly on the judiciary and they have a monopoly on the legislature.  They have a monopoly on the political process, on how it’s run.  It’s not a good situation.

William O’Shaughnessy:
I will grant you, Sam Zherka, that not enough good men and women of quality will submit to the rigors of public service.  They just won’t do it.  They’ll go into other fields.  They’ll go into Wall Street.  They’ll do anything … but they won’t go into public service.  Not like John Lindsay, of sainted memory, who would bring attractive people into government.  As the Kennedy brothers would.  Nelson Rockefeller had a cadre of them.  Mario Cuomo inspired a lot of bright, beamish young people.  There’s a guy who came in here recently and sat across this microphone that I thought was very impressive … Bob Cohen … he’s a Republican.  He’s running against the legendary Senator Suzi.  She’s been in the State Senate forever.  Have you met Cohen?

Sam Zherka:
I’ve met Bob Cohen.  But keep in mind he’s not a politician.  He’s a dad … a business guy who is now looking to run and once he becomes a politician we’ll be looking to get him out also.  We hope he doesn’t become a politician.  I like Bob and I think he’s your next state senator.  Suzi Oppenheimer has worn out her welcome.  She should have been out a long time ago. I don’t think she has anything left.  She’s just riding the wave.  She doesn’t care what happens with her constituents and the State.  She’s just riding the wave and getting that paycheck. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
I asked – Bob Cohen, the Republican running against Oppenheimer for state senate who are your heroes?  Who has inspired you?  Without missing a beat he said Jack Javits … Senator Jacob Javits, father of the War Powers Act.  Probably one of the brightest guys – intellectually – to ever serve in Congress.  And Daniel Patrick Moynihan.  There’s a new book out The Letters of Daniel Patrick Moynihan.  They inspired Cohen.  But who has inspired Zherka?  I mean you speak passionately … almost eloquently … on these things that are so precious … the First Amendment and civic life.  But who has inspired you. Where did you get this passion?

Sam Zherka:
My father. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Tell me about him.

Sam Zherka:
My father.  He lives in Florida.  He’s in his 80’s.  He’s got to be, in my opinion, the best human being who walks this earth.

William O’Shaughnessy:
What did he do for a living? 

Sam Zherka:
He cleaned toilets and cleaned buildings.  He was a doorman … anything he had to do to feed the family. But my father was born and raised in Albania and from age 18 to his early 30’s he spent in Communist concentration camps under torture because he sought freedom.  Half his village was torched and everybody killed.  My father was sent away to Communist jails and was tortured every single day for over a decade. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Do you think he’s proud of you?

Sam Zherka:
Absolutely.  He calls me up every single day.  We speak every day and he says Sam, you look at these bums eye-to-eye and you don’t cow down to any of them.  They don’t have what you have … and I believe that.  None of these politicians have what I have.  I have passion.  I have passion for what I do.  I don’t care about money.  I don’t care about what it costs.  I like to get it done at all costs.  And a lot of people say, Sam, why are you making enemies with all these politicians?  And I say, because I can.  Because it’s my duty to make enemies with politicians because unless they fear something they are going to stampede all over every single one of us. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
So are you using this newspaper as an “ego” thing?

Sam Zherka:
Absolutely not.  I don’t have an ego.  I’m very humble.  I don’t have an ego. If I wanted to have an ego I would just keep the money I spent on the newspaper and …

William O’Shaughnessy:
Now if you were just an owner of a strip club or an entertainment complex your words and your observations wouldn’t have that much weight.  Publisher is a different thing.  You’re a publisher. You’re at the people’s business.   You deal in ideas and notions and opinions. What’s the question? 

Sam Zherka:
The question is all I can say is I’m very passionate in what I do and in what I believe in.  And my father always told me as a kid and still tells me today … do not judge a man by the friends he keeps.  Judge him by the enemies he makes.  Any man who makes weak enemies is a bully.  Any man who makes powerful enemies is the man you need to embrace.  And I listen to every word that comes out of my father’s mouth because he paid a very, very heavy price because he sought freedom.  Albania was a Communist Country.  And he – and my mother, she spent three and a half years in a Communist torture camp, and was beaten for three and a half years because all they wanted is what we enjoy. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Your mother and father were from where?

 Sam Zherka:
From Albania. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
But where in Albania?

Sam Zherka:
My father was from Tropje, Albania and my mother was from the same area.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Forgive my lack of knowledge on this.  I go down to Arthur Avenue to my friend Joey Migliucci’s.  Every Italian restaurant is owned by Albanians it seems, except a few.  There’s Joe Migliucci … Patsy Perrillo … Matty Ianniello’s kid has a place.  But the waiters all have names like … they don’t have names like Sam or Bill.  They have names like Bardell or Circerrie.  The guy who owns the Club A Steakhouse … Bruno, his real name isn’t Bruno and one of his sons’ is Agron.  How come you didn’t give your sons Albanian names? 

Sam Zherka:
Some of them are Albanian names.  Luca …

William O’Shaughnessy:
Luca is Italian!!  It’s Luke!  Like Sirio Maccioni’s grandson!

Sam Zherka:
No … well it’s Italian also.  Luca is an Albanian name.  Beckham means “gift of life” in Albanian.  So Beckham is an Albanian name.  I named my son Maximus because I really love the movie Gladiator.  Maximus Aurelius.  I named my son Maximus because of the movie.  Damian … my wife named him Damian.  Damiano … it’s an Italian name.  Serranda is my oldest daughter.  It’s an Albanian name.  Sophia is a town in Albania.  Sammy is my son, my oldest son.  He’s named after me.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Sam Zherka … I haven’t asked anyone this … but take us back.  We hear about Montenegro. There’s a guy who lives here in New Rochelle, Vic Vuksanaj.  He’s in the real estate business.  And they talk about Montenegro.  Bill Clinton almost bought his house when he was rattling around here before he went to Chappaqua.  He’s in business down there near Arthur Avenue.  They talk about Kosovo and the Serbs.  All the young waiters tell me that the country is really booming now and that it’s a great tourist destination. Montenegro, was that just a little part of Albania? 

Sam Zherka:
Yes, Montenegro used to belong to Albania and it was partitioned off and the Serbs took it. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
And Serbia was what? 

Sam Zherka:
Today’s Serbs are originally from Russia.  They settled in that part of Europe hundreds and hundreds of years ago and created what is now Serbia. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Is it safe to say they were the bad guys?

Sam Zherka:
Absolutely!

William O’Shaughnessy:
The Serbs … and they attacked and they were terrible … did ethnic cleansing against the Albanians …?

Sam Zherka:
Well, they did ethnic cleansing against the Albanians, against the Croatians, against the Slovenians, against the Bosnians.  They killed over 500,000 Bosnians.  They executed over 500,000 men and women for doing absolutely nothing.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Where was the rest of the world while this was going on?  Where was Bill O’Shaughnessy? 

 Sam Zherka:
The entire world was asleep while this was going on.  And people just don’t care.  Everyone is tied up with trying to earn a living.

William O’Shaughnessy:
You were over here while this was going on.

Sam Zherka:
Yes … I was here. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
You were in your teens?

Sam Zherka:
Yes.  This was going on in the 1990’s.

William O’Shaughnessy:
If this happened today, you’d be over there leading an elite unit. 

Sam Zherka:
I’d be more involved.  Yes.  I don’t know if I’d be leading an elite unit, but I’d be involved in whatever needs to get done to bring about more attention to what was going on. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
So does peace reign over there now?

 Sam Zherka:
It’s peaceful.  It’s a democracy in Albania, in Kosovo.   Business is booming.  The economy is really moving and people are making money and there’s peace.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Do the Serbs and Croatians get along?

Sam Zherka:
Yea … I think – listen, all people get along.  Politicians are who ignite hatred.  I don’t think the Jews and the Germans didn’t get along.  I think we had a crazy man like Adolph Hitler who got up and created a mess and you had a lot of people who were suffering financially and he basically catered to those people and convinced a lot of people that the Jews were problems.  But Jews and Germans got along.  Just like in the Middle East … you have a lot of Jews and Arabs that get along.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Didn’t the Serbs have a bad guy? 

Sam Zherka:
Yes they did … Milakovic.  Serbs and Albanians got along.  They lived together for hundreds and hundreds of years.   They never had a problem.  And then you had this one guy – a madman – who created this ethnic cleansing issue and you had a lot of problems.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Do you think you’ll ever take all your money and go over and have a villa on the Adriatic? 

Sam Zherka:
No … I wouldn’t do that.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Why?

Sam Zherka:
Because I have kids here.  My kids are American.  I’m an American. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
How about your father?  Does he ever talk about going back?

Sam Zherka:
My father goes back six months a year.  Every year.  He goes to a little town where he was born and raised.  He still owns property and still owns the house his father left him.  And then he stays in the capitol. So he’s back and forth to the town that he was born … and to the capitol.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Do you ever go there?

Sam Zherka:
I was there a couple of times … yes.

William O’Shaughnessy:
How about your children?  Do you think one day they’ll want you to tell them all about that?

Sam Zherka:
My oldest two daughters have been back.  Last year they were there.

William O’Shaughnessy:
What did they say? 

Sam Zherka:
They didn’t like it.  It’s different.  Once you’re born and raised here, it’s tough to go and live anywhere.  They were there for four weeks.  I think it was a little too much for them.  I was born and raised in New York.  When I go to Florida for a week, I have to come back. Once you’re born and raised here, it’s tough to live anywhere.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Sam Zherka … where are you based now?  You’re not based in Yonkers. 

Sam Zherka:
My office is in New Rochelle.  That’s where my base is.  New Rochelle. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
How do you like New Rochelle?  How are the elders treating you in our home heath?

Sam Zherka:
New Rochelle is a good town.  I like New Rochelle.  I always liked New Rochelle.  How they treat me?  I don’t really have much interaction with them.  I did have some problems with them years ago … with Noam Bramson and Chuck Strome and the guys.  They tried to eminent domain.  They tried to take a property I owned.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Do you have a club in New Rochelle now?

Sam Zherka:
No …

William O’Shaughnessy:
I was in downtown New Rochelle the other day.  What’s that Miami?  Is that a club?

Sam Zherka:
Yes … it was a club.  I used to own the building where the club was and that was the building I had the issue with New Rochelle on.  They tried using eminent domain to confiscate my building and give it to Lou Cappelli.  I went to a City Council hearing and I gave them a tongue lashing and I warned the mayor and every single council person that if they voted to use eminent domain to confiscate my property and give it to Lou Cappelli I would tie it up in the courts for as long as possible and in the interim I would destroy every single one of them.  And they knew I would do it and they were smart not to challenge me on it and so they voted against it.

William O’Shaughnessy:
But it’s still there.  It used to be Marty and Lenny’s years ago in this town.

Sam Zherka:
Yes … I used to go there.

William O’Shaughnessy:
It’s still Miami.

Sam Zherka:
Yes … but I don’t own the building anymore.  

William O’Shaughnessy:
What happens there now … is it a club?

Sam Zherka:
No.  I don’t know what they’re doing.  I sold the building to Lou Cappelli.  I eventually sold the building to Lou Cappelli but the key, which was a victory for me, was, the city wasn’t going to take it from me and give it to him.  Lou Cappelli was forced to come and sit down at the table with me and pay my price.  And the city wasn’t going to take it from me and force me to the price they were going to pay for it. I went in to a city council hearing and gave them a tongue lashing and said … listen … if you guys want to take it, I challenge you to take it.  I’ll tie it up in court for five or ten years and in that interim I promise you, mayor and all you city council members … my name is Sam Zherka … I promise you I will destroy every single one of you and I’ll replace you guys with someone who really cares about people’s rights and people’s homes and people’s properties.  They did the smart thing and they went in the back and they came back and they voted against eminent domain which shouldn’t exist.  That was a victory for me.

William O’Shaughnessy:
This is a special edition of Westchester Open Line with tough talk and passion from Sam Zherka.  I’m going to change you … no more Sammy Z.  It’s going to be Samuel Zherka.  Of Westchester.

Sam Zherka:
Samuel … OK. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
I like Louis Cappelli, incidentally.  I hope you didn’t make an enemy out of him.

Sam Zherka:
No … no.  I have no hard feelings against Cappelli.

William O’Shaughnessy:
He’s a very good guy.  I like him. He’s got five jet planes.  Still.

Sam Zherka:
God bless him.  I don’t have a jet plane.  Nor do I want one. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
You fly commercial?

Sam Zherka:
I don’t like flying.  I hate flying.

William O’Shaughnessy:
How do you go and see your dad?

Sam Zherka:
I drive! 

William O’Shaughnessy:
What do you drive these days?

Sam Zherka:
A Mercedes.

William O’Shaughnessy:
I don’t think you’re a Dodge Dart kind of guy! Or a Ford Fairmont!

Sam Zherka:
I drive a Mercedes.  I drive a Hummer.  I’m not too crazy about cars.  I really don’t care. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
Hummer is a little … that’s so 80’s!

Sam Zherka:
Maybe …

William O’Shaughnessy:
Alright … we dropped the Sammy Z.  We dropped the Hummer and get you an Audi A8L.

Sam Zherka:
I don’t even know what an Audi A8L is!  I don’t even know what that looks like.  But it doesn’t matter.  

William O’Shaughnessy:
How about a Jaguar?

Sam Zherka:
I’ll drive a Chevy … it really doesn’t matter.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Sam Zherka this has been a very stimulating visit.  My son David said I think this is a good guy. And I think it was Reisman this morning when I said What is with this Zherka guy … I think I like what I hear.  And they all say you believe the stuff you’re putting out there.

Sam Zherka: Absolutely.   If I didn’t believe it we wouldn’t put it out there.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Mario Cuomo once said he prays for “sureness.”  The old Jesuits will say you never really get it in this life.  You never get complete understanding of everything.  According to Cuomo, sureness is you’re on the road to Damascus.  There’s a lightning bolt in the sky.  Bam! You’re knocked off your horse. The Lord appears in all his or her refinement and says Sam, your name is not Sam anymore, your name is Paul and by the way you’re a Saint.  That’s sureness!  A lightning bolt in the tush, according to Cuomo.  How did you become so damn sure of everything?

Sam Zherka:
You have to go with your conscience and your gut.  I follow my conscience and my gut every single time.  I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated.  And I live that. That’s what guides me.

William O’Shaughnessy:
There’s a marvelous cartoon in the New Yorker.  This guy was standing in front of his wife.  It was reading his mind and said He’s trying a Hail Mary pass and what he said was:  “I was wrong to the wife.” Did you ever say I was wrong? 

Sam Zherka:
Yes, absolutely. No one is perfect.  If someone proclaims to be perfect then they’re only fooling themselves.  We’ve all made mistakes.  If I make a mistake I’m the first guy to apologize and I even bow my head.  I’m not ashamed of apologizing.  I’ll take whatever repercussions come with being wrong.  No matter what it is.  If I’m wrong, I take it.  I admit it and say I’m wrong.  If there’s a price to pay I’ll take the price and I take it with honor and respect. 

William O’Shaughnessy:
You know who I think would like you?  And a lot of people do.  Ralph Martinelli.  Do you know him?

Sam Zherka:
I never met the man.  But I heard a lot of good things about him.  Ralph Martinelli was the politically incorrect one.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Ralph Martinelli was a fiery, feisty guy like you are.  Not as articulate perhaps, but he believed what he was saying.  He had the Martinelli papers and now they’re put out by a guy named Sprayregen.  He’s another windmill tilter.  He won a big thing against Columbia University.  He owns warehouses in the Bronx and they wanted to bulldoze them and extend the domain of Columbia.  You ever speak to Sprayregen or are you competitors.

Sam Zherka:
No, I’m not a competitor.   There’s no competition with Free Speech.  Everyone is entitled to it.  People don’t read my newspaper and not any other newspaper.  People don’t read the New York Times and not read the New York Post.  I pick up almost every newspaper that’s out there.  I read newspaper after newspaper after newspaper.

William O’Shaughnessy:
How many do you read on a normal day?

Sam Zherka:
Two, three, four.  On the weekends I read six or seven.  The Journal News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Post is my favorite.  The Post and Fox News are my favorites.

William O’Shaughnessy:
And David Hinckley in the Daily News.  You gotta read him.

Sam Zherka:
I think the Daily News is a little too far on the left.   I like it right along the middle.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Let me tell you something Publisher Zherka … you may not know this, but there used to be a hearty perennial in this state during the days of Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, the great governor, and  his name was Arthur Levitt.  His son and heir later became head of the stock exchange.  Arthur Levitt, you couldn’t beat him. Rockefeller decided he’s going to be friends with this guy because I can’t beat him.  Arthur Levitt was comptroller. He won once, twice, three, four times … he could have had it for life.  Arthur Levitt never played with radio, television or anything.  He sent out one press release a week.  He would time it so it would go to every weekly in New York State.  They would put it on the front page … everything Arthur Levitt said that week.  But weekly newspapers are still damn strong in this state.  But I’m told you have to own the printing press to make money.

Sam Zherka:
I didn’t get into the Westchester Guardian to make money.  Westchester Guardian was never meant as a money making tool.  It was meant for more of a First Amendment tool … to use the First Amendment to restrain government and to tell people what’s really going on.  

William O’Shaughnessy:
But you’re not going to use it just to bring them down.  You’re going to build some people up, right?  You’re going to find some people you like.

Sam Zherka:
We want to keep good people.  You mentioned Bob Cohen.  Bob Cohen is a good guy.  Let’s just hope he doesn’t become a politician.  Once he becomes a politician he’ll end up on the front page of the Westchester Guardian.  I just hope he doesn’t become a politician.  But Bob Cohen is, in fact, a good guy.   

William O’Shaughnessy:
Sam Zherka, I like you.  Aren’t you breathing a sigh of relief?  O’Shaughnessy pronounced me OK before a live audience on this Friday in late October as winter is on the horizon.  Good luck to you sir.  Thank you.  You’re quite a guy.

Sam Zherka:
Thank you for having me.  I want to thank that caller Frank.  He sounds like my kind of guy.  I don’t know who he is but I like everything he said and I want to thank him for calling.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Let’s do it again.

 

# # #

 

William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America.  He operates two of the last independent stations in the New York area: WVOX and WVIP.

 

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files” was released in January, 2011.  He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, an anthology which will include this interview with Sam Zherka.

Contact:
William O’Shaughnessy
914-980-7003
wfo@wvox.com

Cindy Gallagher
Whitney Media
914-235-3279
cindy@wvox.com

Remarks of WO Re: Fox Sports Boycott vs. Entercom

I like Erin Andrews. No pun intended … but, for one thing, she is someone’s daughter.  In fact, I believe her dad was a long-time news anchor in Tampa.

I met Erin a few years ago at a fundraising luncheon for the Broadcasters Foundation of America in Naples, FL.  And while I’m not at all that familiar with her work as a sideline reporter or sports analyst .. I am very concerned – and more than a little uneasy – when someone in our tribe utilizes the same coercive tactics that have been used so many times against our profession to stifle or impede free expression.

David Fields and his legendary (and generous) father Joe Fields are highly respected broadcasters and it should be left to them – and ultimately to their Entercom listeners – to reign in, tone down or moderate any excessive rhetoric by Kirk Minihane and his colleagues at WEEI.

But our friends at Fox Sports should not be in the job of censorship through coercion by economic pressure. 

It’s commendable that Fox Sports would stand up and support one of its own.  But they – of all people – should not be in the economic boycott game.

 

William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America.  He operates two of the last independent stations in the New York area: WVOX and WVIP.                             

Cindy Gallagher
914-235-3279
cindy@wvox.com

WO interviews John Cahill — Candidate for Attorney General

John Cahill is like a breath of fresh air in the murky world of contemporary politics. The hour we recently spent at our Westchester studios with Governor George Pataki’s former chief of staff left me feeling better about politics, the potential of good, enlightened government and even with a somewhat renewed confidence in a Republican Party which has lost its way. The registration numbers are heavily against him in his race for Attorney General of New York State. But John Cahill, who speaks eloquently of a Party that is more inclusive and compassionate, just might restore your faith in the political process and even in the confused and beleaguered Republican Party. We’ve argued for years that men and women of real quality, substance and ability will not submit to the rigors of public service. And then every once in a while along comes a John Cahill. We’ll see how well he does …

- – – W.O.

William O’Shaughnessy:
In our studio, live this very morning in June, is a man we’ve admired – I’ve got to tell you straight out – for a long time. He’s a Republican … are you ready? And he’s running for attorney general of the Empire State. He’s a Yonkers, New York guy … a child of Yonkers – “where true love conquers” … John Cahill.

John Cahill:
Bill … it’s great to be with you.

William O’Shaughnessy:
You really ran the State of New York for a good, long time as George Elmer Pataki’s Secretary – which means chief of staff. You ran the damn place.

John Cahill:
Well, it was a job with a lot of responsibilities. It had gotten me to know the State from Long Island to Buffalo, Bill. I have a real passion for the State. It’s an amazing state with amazing people. Because of that background I have in government as his Secretary and also previous to that as Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation … I’m anxious to get back into public service.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Secretary doesn’t mean the typing kind. Secretary means you run everything.

John Cahill:
Secretary means you do what the governor needs to get done. That includes typing if you have to. But really it’s the highest appointed position in the State. All State agencies report into the Secretary to the Governor. So your responsibilities run from the environment to health care to transportation. All of those State agencies out there run through the implementation of the Governor’s policies.

William O’Shaughnessy:
John Cahill, you and – former Governor Pataki – have been together for a long time. How did you meet?

John Cahill:
Yes … it goes back to the days of practicing law with a mutual friend of ours – Mr. William Plunkett …

William O’Shaughnessy:
“Brother Bill” Plunkett, Esquire.

John Cahill:
Yes, absolutely. Actually, Bill was very instrumental in convincing me to go to law school. I met him when I was coaching and teaching at Stepinac High School in White Plains when I coached his oldest son, Ryan. And Bill convinced me to go to law school. He gave me a job as a summer intern. And the first case I tried at Plunkett & Jaffe was tried with Mr. Kevin Plunkett, his brother, and George Pataki, in upstate New York. George Pataki and I have been friends ever since.

William O’Shaughnessy:
In every telling and by every account, John Cahill is a nice guy. You are greatly admired in your home heath. Why the hell do you want to mess with politics now?

John Cahill:
Well, never having run in politics before … but having been around government for a good 12 years, Bill, you see the difference it can make in people’s lives. Government can be an instrument of good or it can be an instrument of not so good. And I’ve seen the goodness of government. Whether it was working at DEC or our rebuilding efforts in lower Manhattan, I believe in public service. And I believe my time in government and in the public sector has given me the qualifications and background to serve capably as the next New York State Attorney General.

William O’Shaughnessy:
What’s going on in the State of New York? We only know what we see in the public press. It looks like a mess. Is it really as bad as it seems?

John Cahill:
Well, I think it really depends on where you go. I spent last week traveling much of upstate New York … Buffalo, Jamestown, Elmira, Corning … some great old towns in New York with wonderful, people. And I must say there’s a sense of concern and lack of confidence in the future. What I hear most, the biggest concern, is about jobs and also the brain drain. Where are my children going to live? If they go off to college, do they come back? Is there going to be a future here for the next generation of New Yorkers? I believe there is because New York is always going to be, as you mentioned, the Empire State. But we need to have government fighting for the needs of these people by having programs and policies and law enforcement that will build a future for New Yorkers and that’s my concern right now, Bill. There is a lot of concern in upstate New York about the future of the State and what it means for the next generation of New Yorkers.

William O’Shaughnessy:
John Cahill, can anything … can anyone – even Cahill – save Binghamton or Utica or Batavia?

John Cahill:
Yes, I do believe they can, Bill. I think there are policies and opportunities in the State. One of the challenging issues the State is facing is on the issue of developing natural gasses along the Southern Tier. Hydrofracking is a very controversial issue right now in the State. And as you travel the Southern Tier – Binghamton, Jamestown, Elmira, that is a really big issue. And having been Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation four years … and prior to that I served as their general counsel, I spent my entire life around environmental issues and energy issues. And I do believe it can be done safely. We shouldn’t be drilling in the New York City watershed. We shouldn’t be drilling in our State parks. But there are areas in the State – if properly regulated – that I believe my former agency is capable of regulating. And that would not only be an economic game-changer for the Southern Tier, but for all of New York State.

William O’Shaughnessy:
There’s a story in the Wall Street Journal this very morning, John Cahill, about all the little towns, hamlets and villages that have actually banned fracking.

John Cahill:
Yes … and it’s now before the Court of Appeals as to whether these towns and villages can act unilaterally to basically ban fracking. And if that was to happen, obviously the opportunities for companies to come in is going to be severely limited. New York State has generally recognized in the past that energy mining, developing those resources, are preempted on the local level. So that’s right now before the Court of Appeals and that is going to be an important issue as to whether we do develop oil and gas in the Southern Tier.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Well, you’re not saying you know better than those local yokels?

John Cahill:
No, I’m not. I’m saying I think we need to have an overall State policy that certainly gives the locals the appropriate opportunity to participate in the decision-making process. Certainly there would be a concern if with each town you had a patch-work around the State. And that would be a concern, Bill. But I think there is a process to make sure we get the locals on board, to get the counties on board. And if there’s strong feeling that it’s not the right place, no one should be forced to live with issues they don’t want to live with. But at the same time there are areas around the State, Bill, that very much are anxious to move forward appropriately and diligently on developing those resources.

William O’Shaughnessy:
His name is John Cahill … he hails from Yonkers, right over the Cross County Parkway, that colorful, if sometimes beleaguered city on the Hudson and he’s running and surprise, surprise – as a Republican!

John Cahill:
Yes, I am. I’ve been a Republican my entire life, Bill. You say why are you a Republican? My parents are Irish immigrants … how come you’re not a Democrat? Actually, my father was a Republican as well. We believe in opportunity. I do believe in an active government, but I don’t believe in a dependent government or a government that forces dependency. And I think the government can have an awful lot to give people – as it’s given me, a son of immigrants – an opportunity to achieve something in this world.

William O’Shaughnessy:
So what kind of Republican are you, John Cahill? There was a story in City and State this week – a blog, a very good one – that there ain’t no more Rockefeller Republicans.

John Cahill:
I guess I’m a Rockefeller Republican … a Pataki Republican …

William O’Shaughnessy:
Is that one and the same?

John Cahill:
I would leave that to the Rockefellers and the Patakis. They have differences but they have a lot of similarities, I expect. And I think it goes back to the idea that we’re not anti-government. We do believe in a role for government. But we believe in the overriding sense and responsibility of opportunity and not dependency, Bill. And I think certainly that was Governor Pataki’s mantra and if I recall Governor Rockefeller also had a lot to say about that as well. We’re not like many of the other Republicans around the country who believe that government should have very little role in bettering the lives of its citizens.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Do you remember when Louis Lefkowitz of sainted memory was attorney general?

John Cahill:
Yes, I’m old enough to remember Louis Lefkowitz. And you know, when I look at that office, Bill, he’s somebody I certainly admire as an attorney general. He was known as the “People’s Lawyer.” He was somebody who really served the interests of the people of the State and used that office not to aspire to higher office. He never ran for governor … he had a tough guy in front of him to run for governor!

William O’Shaughnessy:
Rockefeller …

John Cahill:
Yes! Rockefeller. But he was dedicated to that notion of serving as the people’s lawyer. And certainly that is a model I would like to emulate again in the office of the attorney general.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Out on the stump on the road, the rubber chicken circuit, you’ve said again and again you want to be the people’s lawyer. But aren’t you also the governor’s lawyer?

John Cahill:
Sure, you have a responsibility as the attorney general to serve as the lawyer for the Executive and the executive agencies. That is an important component of serving as attorney general. Absolutely, Bill. But the role of attorney general has broader responsibilities than just defending the Governor or being the lawyer for the Executive. It’s also being an advocate for the People. The responsibility is clearly to defend the civil rights of the citizens of the State of New York. And that’s why I’ve been such a strong advocate and, quite frankly, a critic of the current attorney general. When we have issues concerning the education of our children, which many of us do … it’s a civil rights issue. I believe the attorney general should be more outspoken, more vocal, to be sure the children of the state are given a quality education … as our Constitution requires.

William O’Shaughnessy:
You’re talking about a guy named Schneiderman? I don’t even know his first name.

John Cahill:
Yes. Mr. Eric Schneiderman.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Can you beat him?

John Cahill:
I believe I can. I wouldn’t be in this just to run around the State. I’ve done that before and I love this State. But I believe the response I’ve gotten so far, Bill, is very positive. Most people in the State of New York do not know the present attorney general, they cannot identify him on any particular issue. I also believe there is a sense around the State that having members of different parties at the crucial positions in Albany is important for a good, functioning government. We haven’t had that in the last eight years. And I think we’ve had quite a bit of dysfunction in Albany. I believe people do want a balance of authority, a balance of power in Albany. I would like to bring that balance of power to Albany.

William O’Shaughnessy:
John Cahill … I don’t want to injure you, but the word in political circles is that the Democrat Governor – Andrew Mark Cuomo – thinks you’re a pretty good guy.

John Cahill:
Well, that’s nice to hear.

William O’Shaughnessy:
You’re a Republican. He’s a Democrat!

John Cahill:
You know what, I’ve always approached government and politics really non-political, Bill. I mean whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, we all have the responsibility to serve the interests of the people. That’s the ideology rather than being a Republican or a Democrat I would take to the office of Attorney General.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Let’s take some calls from our listeners for the Republican – are you also the Conservative candidate?

John Cahill:
Yes I am …

William O’Shaughnessy:
The Republican-Conservative candidate for attorney general of the State of New York John Cahill … let’s go to the phones. You’re on the air …

Caller:
I’m listening to Mr. Cahill and normally as we get closer to Election Day we ask well why should the person already in there be discharged? I heard what you were saying before that you think you can beat Mr. Schneiderman. In general what type of a job do you think he’s doing? What would you do different?

John Cahill:
I do not like the job he is doing. A couple of areas I would take issue with the current Attorney General: One, on law enforcement and on criminal justice issues. For instance, we have a heroin epidemic exploding across the State right now. If you travel from Staten Island up to Buffalo that is really having a devastating impact on many of our communities. And what is the attorney general’s response to that? Well, it’s to hand out an antidote. That’s fine. I believe we should save every life possible. But how about going after the criminals dispensing that horrible drug to those in our communities. We need tougher laws and we need tougher law enforcement when it comes to heroin and drug use in the State. We need to have an attorney general who is helping to bring businesses into this State, not fighting job opportunities on every front. And that’s whether it’s in the financial service industry, in the high-tech industry, in the natural gas industry. We’ve had an attorney general who has been anti-business from day one in office. And number three … anybody out there would say who is the attorney general? People don’t know who he is. Would you hire a lawyer who hasn’t shown up, who you haven’t identified with, who hasn’t helped your life in the last four years? I don’t think you would re-hire him. I will be the advocate for the people of New York. I will be, yes, the governor’s lawyer and the executive lawyer, but I would also be a much stronger advocate for the people of New York.

William O’Shaughnessy:
If push comes to shove … who do you go with? The people or the governor?

John Cahill:
I don’t think it’s really a choice, Bill. Clearly you have a responsibility as attorney general to represent the Governor and to represent the interests of the Executive. Listen, when I was Secretary to the Governor, we worked with Elliot Spitzer. Not exactly an ideologue of similarity to Governor Pataki. But he knew his responsibility with respect to representing the Executive. He also had his own responsibilities and took on his own issues in that role. And not to say I would emulate that attorney general either, but I think the point that you’re making is a good one … you do have responsibility under New York State law and under the constitution to represent the Executive. But that doesn’t preclude you from setting your own policies and advocating for New Yorkers.

William O’Shaughnessy:
John Cahill, your own party is a mess. The Republican Party. It almost doesn’t exist anymore. Or does it?

John Cahill:
Oh it does, Bill. I think there are different sectors of the Republican Party. But frankly, you’re also seeing that in the Democratic Party. You saw that with the Working Family Party at their convention up in Albany two weeks ago from the far left pressuring the Governor on the endorsement. Listen, both political parties are going to have fringe elements pressing the issue. And many times, because they are so influential in the primary process, they can have a dramatic impact on elections. But I do believe in the Republican Party, with the right message and the right voice about being inclusive. One of the things the Republican Party has a problem with is being compassionate. At least projecting itself as compassionate, Bill …

William O’Shaughnessy:
What do you mean?

John Cahill:
Well, take for instance … I came out on Sunday in support of medical marijuana and many in my party are opposed to it. Now I’m not in favor of legalizing marijuana. But when you talk to so many of the advocates and the parents who have children who suffer from seizures that would benefit from medical marijuana, I was convinced that yes, we could do this. We can do it by providing additional resources to law enforcement, to State troopers and local police to make sure that the law is properly enforced. But we need to be, as a party, more caring and more responsive and show that to the people of this State and to the people of this country.

William O’Shaughnessy:
John Cahill, you mentioned State Troopers … the State Police. Weren’t you just endorsed by the troopers?

John Cahill:
Yes I was. I’m very proud my first political endorsement came from the New York State Police.

William O’Shaughnessy:
So the next time I’m stopped going up 684 … I’m going to have a Cahill bumper sticker …

John Cahill:
Bill, I think you know a lot of other people that can help you a lot more than I can. But I’d be proud to help you, Bill.

William O’Shaughnessy:
That’s a great endorsement … the troopers.
John Cahill:
Yes … I’m very proud. I worked with the State Police in both the DEC and in the Governor’s Office and they are a tremendous group of men and women that risk their lives every day. I don’t think anyone driving up the State Thruway at night, when they see a State Trooper pulled over, they say wow! That takes a lot of courage to do what they do everyday to protect us.

William O’Shaughnessy:
John Cahill … you’re on the Republican and Conservative lines. And you’re also with a neighbor of ours, Rob Astorino. How’s he doing?

John Cahill:
He’s been a tremendous county executive. He’s kept his word. He’s straightened out the finances of this county. And he is a great campaigner. I mean Rob takes the message every day to the public. He’s happy about it. He’s a wonderful guy. It shows on the stump. I think people have been surprised before in politics. Rob Astorino has the capability of surprising a lot of people.

William O’Shaughnessy:
He sat right at that very microphone and said some very nice things about Andrew Cuomo. But then lo and behold … a month later he changed his tune.

John Cahill:
Well … you know, listen … he’s got to be able to differentiate himself from the incumbent in order to win. I can’t speak for Rob, but I don’t think it’s personal animosity, but they have a difference of opinion about how the State should move forward. And I think that’s healthy for the electorate to have a choice. People competing for ideas. We’re going to see more of that and it’s probably going to get a little bit tougher as we get to Election Day. But Rob is a good person with a good heart and he wants to do the right thing for this State as he’s done for this county.

William O’Shaughnessy:
I agree with everything you’ve said about him. But Siena College … the poll … the people. They have him 36 points behind. Has he got a chance?

John Cahill:
Sure he’s got a chance. First of all, very few people, except for political junkies like you and me, Bill, are not paying a lot of attention to the elections coming this November. They will focus on it after Labor Day. Everybody has a chance in politics. People who don’t have a chance are the people who are sitting on the sidelines. Did you see what happened in Virginia early last week.

William O’Shaughnessy:
What happened?

John Cahill:
The Republican pulled an upset over the Majority Leader Cantor. I think that what happened was Representative Cantor lost touch with his district. He was busy traveling around the state … taking his message and planning to be the next Speaker and once you lost touch with your constituents, you are very vulnerable to losing an election. Not to say Governor Cuomo has lost touch, but it shows that any politician – and politicians know this Bill – they are vulnerable. Rob is going to be out there taking it to the Governor. Challenging him on issues and you just don’t know what can happen in an election.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Let’s go again to the phones …

Caller:
Good morning Mr. Cahill … first of all, good luck in your race. I wanted to ask you … Eric Schneiderman, has a reputation of being maybe a little too tough on businesses and on Wall Street. How would you approach the same kind of clientele?

John Cahill:
Thank you for calling … when I was DEC Commissioner I had similar responsibilities with respect to enforcement. I was obviously focused on environmental crimes and violations. But I always took the approach to be tough but fair. In New York State, we need a level playing field. That’s what people expect. We need to be the referee. But we don’t need people grandstanding on enforcement actions in order to help their political career. And frankly, I think we’ve seen that too often in the attorney general’s office. It’s been used to be an aspiring governor as opposed to attorney general. We need somebody, as Bill has mentioned, like Louis Lefkowitz who was committed to that office. I’ve said this once … I’ve said it before … if I’m elected as attorney general, I will not use that office to seek higher office. You can not have somebody in that position that the public, would question the motivation behind them, whether it’s an action behind the people’s interest or you’re serving your political interest. That is a crucial element for the office of Attorney General.

Caller:
I remember Lefkowitz. What do you think he brought to the table that you can bring to the table and be the anti-Schneiderman?

John Cahill:
I think he brought a sense of fairness to the office. He instilled a sense of competency and integrity in that office and no one, if I recall, every questioned the merits of him bringing an action on behalf of the People of New York. Because he was committed to that office. He was not seeking higher office. He did not have a political agenda. He had one agenda and that was to serve the public. And I think that’s a crucial element for anybody in that type of position. Another great New Yorker was Morgenthau, the district attorney of Manhattan. Yes, he ran for governor, but before he was elected to the office of DA … I guess in 1960 against Governor Rockefeller … he never used the office of District Attorney of Manhattan to seek higher office. And he was looked upon, and rightfully so, as probably the District Attorney, the law enforcement official of the country with the most integrity and the most capable office.

William O’Shaughnessy:
John Cahill … I still can’t figure out something. You have a nice family, a beautiful blonde wife. And yet you’re out and about … I see you constantly on Facebook in some cockamamie, obscure town that nobody’s ever heard of. First of all, you went to Elmira, and you didn’t go to the right place!

John Cahill:
Why is that?

William O’Shaughnessy:
I told you, the chicken wings at Bernie Murray’s! And Moretti’s.

John Cahill:
I went to Louie’s. It’s a terrific place in Elmira.

William O’Shaughnessy:
See, I’m a great advisor to Cahill. You really listen to me about chicken wings! When you’re in these awful, far-flung places, that’s my word – awful – you seem to like them.

John Cahill:
I love them. They’re not awful. They’re just wonderful people looking for a future for their towns and for their families. No different from my neighbors in Yonkers that are concerned if their kids are going to stay in the neighborhood. Are they going to be forced out because they need a job and can’t afford the taxes here in New York and they’ll have to move elsewhere. People have lived in these communities for generations. They want their communities to succeed. They want a government and an attorney general’s office that is responsive to the needs of these communities.

William O’Shaughnessy:
You mentioned earlier our mutual friend William Plunkett, Esq. He’s had a great impact on all our lives.

John Cahill:
He has …

William O’Shaughnessy:
He gets mad at me every time the New York tabloids quote me accusing Plunkett of being the most powerful man in New York State. He gets mad for about one minute!

John Cahill:
Yes … just a minute!
William O’Shaughnessy:
So, I’m not surprised he likes you. We call him “Monsignor” Plunkett! I think he’d prefer “Cardinal.” What about your Catholic faith? Is it important to you?

John Cahill:
Yes … it’s real important to me, Bill. As you mentioned, I grew up in an Irish-Catholic household. Went to Archbishop Stepinac. Fordham University. And actually when I met Bill Plunkett I was giving some serious thought to joining the seminary. I was teaching religion and coaching basketball, baseball and soccer at Stepinac. It has remained an important element in my life until this day.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Do you regret never becoming a priest?

John Cahill:
No. I have a wonderful wife and four beautiful kids. Bill was one of the ones who kind of steered me in that direction. Even though I decided to take a different path, my Catholic faith is and will always be an important part of my life.

William O’Shaughnessy:
What do you think of your new Pope? Francis …

John Cahill:
He’s a hero. A Hero. One thing that is remarkable is that you look at the leaders of the Catholic faith and when we really need a dynamic leader – which the Church desperately needed right now – we have this new Pope. He’s brought new energy, new excitement … he has just been a remarkable, remarkable leader. And Cardinal Dolan, who I am a big fan of here in New York … once again, we have tremendous leadership in our faith.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Cardinal Dolan, speaking of which, seems to be a big fan of your running mate Rob Astorino. Are you and Dolan pretty tight?
“The Times They Are a Changing …”

John Cahill:
Well, he’s been very, very good to me. I serve on a couple of boards for the Cardinal. So he has been very supportive. I think he’s been a great leader of our faith. I was very close with Cardinal Egan as well. I was the Governor’s “ambassador” to the Cardinal’s office. I’ve enjoyed a relationship with our spiritual leaders here in New York for some time, Bill.

William O’Shaughnessy:
How about ambassador to the Vatican? Wouldn’t that be a great gig?

John Cahill:
I only have eyes for New York. That would be a great gig. But I only have eyes for Elmira probably more than the Vatican!
William O’Shaughnessy:
Your Catholic faith, stick with it for a minute, John Cahill. Mario Cuomo said he prays for sureness. Sureness. Are you sure about your faith?

John Cahill:
I think all of us, whatever faith you believe in at points in your life, you question. I think it’s good to question. We’ve been taught to question our faith. It makes you stronger in your faith once you help find the answers to what you’re seeking. I do seek sureness. I guess I would say I pray for hope. I pray for opportunity more than I pray for sureness, Bill. Because I’m pretty sure, at this point in my life. I’m confident in my faith, but I really pray for the opportunities for other people whether they’re here in New York that they be given a life of meaning and worth. That’s why I want to get back into public service.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Mr. Attorney General Cahill … I’ve already got you elected! You’re the Attorney General. Office in Albany. Office in New York. The court says you’ve got to close down an abortion clinic. Or you’ve got to keep one open. What do you do?

John Cahill:
You follow the laws of the State of New York, Bill. It’s very clear. You leave your personal faith, your issues behind you when you take a Constitutional oath to uphold the laws and the Constitution of the State of New York. I recognized that when I got into this. I took that same oath when I served as Secretary to the Governor.

William O’Shaughnessy:
The oath says what?

John Cahill:
You will uphold the laws of the State of New York, the Constitution of New York and of the United States.

William O’Shaughnessy:
So help me …

John Cahill:
So help me God. I will do that as I have done. People might have criticized me for many things during my tenure in government, Bill. I don’t think anyone would have questioned me for ever, ever violating the oath I took in serving out my public responsibility. And I would do the same again as Attorney General.

William O’Shaughnessy:
That job of Secretary to the Governor calls for “the hammer.” Mr. No! Did you have a tough time being the tough guy?

John Cahill:
I think I tried to be tough in a fair way. I don’t believe that in order to be tough you need to scream at people. But you need to give people a direct answer as to what they’re seeking. I tried to represent the Governor in that position. I don’t think Governor Pataki was the type of guy who wanted people to be screamed at or yelled at. He was the type of guy who delivered and if we couldn’t do something, be direct and tell them exactly why and we’ll move on. That’s what I try to do. I didn’t have a problem saying no to people because by telling no that was often in the best interest of the State.

William O’Shaughnessy:
George Pataki … to this day do we really know him? What kind of guy is he?

John Cahill:
A remarkable guy. He really is. I mean he is a very regular sort of guy from Peekskill. A background in farming … at the same time he has an amazing intellect. Yale, Columbia. His mind works at a different speed than anyone I’ve ever met. He is a very kind, decent, smart guy who loved to serve the State with great distinction in his 12 years. I’m happy to have him as a friend and now I have him as a business partner as well, Bill.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Do you think he still looks in the mirror and sees a president?

John Cahill:
I don’t think there is anybody who served as governor of the State of New York who hasn’t thought of being president. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. When you’re elected by what I would say is the most important state in the country, you should think about whether it’s right with you personally to run for president. And once you have that one thought in your mind, you will have it for the rest of your life. So I think whether it’s Andrew Cuomo, Mario Cuomo, George Pataki, Nelson Rockefeller … I think New Yorkers expect their governor to be of Presidential timber.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Someone said Nelson ran too hard for it … and Mario wouldn’t run at all!

John Cahill:
It’s a hard decision … running for president. It’s hard enough traveling the State, Bill. Can you imagine going to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, endlessly, for two years leading up to the Presidential primaries and caucuses? That’s a real demand on people’s lives.

William O’Shaughnessy:
We’ll take another call … Jimmy Breslin, the great writer, one of the great journalists of our time. I said to him, listen … I loved your stuff about Winston Churchill, Bobby Kennedy, Jack Kennedy. Why are you writing about these obscure guys? He said: Who’s to write about? So John Cahill, is there anybody on the political scene or the national – or even international – who you think has the great stuff? Any heroes?

John Cahill:
You mentioned President Kennedy … we had his picture in my house, Bill, until the day my mom passed away. It was a center point of our lives. I’ll never forget the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It was literally the first thing I remember in my life. I was four years old at the time and watching with my mother as she cried and we watched the funeral. Same thing with Bobby Kennedy. I remember my mom waking me up that morning and said get down on your knees and say a prayer for Senator Kennedy. So the Kennedys, even though they were Democrats, they were Irish and they were great politicians. They tried to change the world which is extraordinarily admirable. And I think if you would look at the political map today, I still think there’s the makings of political heroes. And I think we’re all looking for people to look up to … I was a big Ronald Reagan fan in my formative days back when I was in college. But I’m still looking for that leader who is talking about compassion and care. Jeb Bush, I’m a big fan of his because he’s open to Hispanics. He’s open to expanding the breadth of the Republican Party much as Governor George Pataki was. We need that type of leadership again … certainly in the Party and in the country.

William O’Shaughnessy:
I hate to throw you a surprise, but they’re talking about Romney again … drafting Romney.

John Cahill:
I don’t see that happening, at all. I’ve known Governor Romney, he’s a wonderful guy. I would be really surprised if the Republican Party would get behind Governor Romney again. I would be surprised if Governor Romney really was excited about running a third time for president.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Republican John Cahill … what about the guy across the river? The big guy! Christie?

John Cahill:
I think he’s done some really good things over in New Jersey. I think the “Bridge-gate” scandal will get behind him. Obviously it’s been a drag on his administration. A drag on the state. We hear he had no prior knowledge of it. But it’s going to be a challenge for anybody to run for president. He’ll have to deal with those issues and running a state that is very difficult state to govern.

Caller:
What do you think can be done about the rampant shootings in the schools, movie theatres and the malls?

John Cahill:
Good question … an important question. We talk a lot about gun safety and gun violence and we have the Safe Act that passed a few years ago, but we’re not really talking enough about the mental health crisis in this country. And I really worry that we are focused on guns, and I’m concerned about guns as well although I have some issues with the Safe Act that was passed without any serious debate. We really need to do more on mental health issues in our country whether it is the young that are being exposed to violence and recreating violence in these schools which is creating horror around the country. So I think we really need to take a comprehensive approach to these issues of violence and gun violence. Certainly tougher enforcement on illegal guns is important. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that many of these people doing these horrible things show there really is a mental health crisis in this country that we’re not properly addressing.

William O’Shaughnessy:
What’s wrong with the Safe Act you don’t like?

John Cahill:
The Safe Act … let’s talk about how it was passed. It was passed in the middle of the night without any debate on the message and necessity. On an issue that is so important to so many people upstate, we need to have a serious debate on the issue, Bill.

William O’Shaughnessy:
You mean, they like their guns?

John Cahill:
They do like their guns. They grew up in a culture of hunting and conservation. They are law-abiding citizens. These are not people who are violent. The law itself is flawed because it meant even police officers were carrying illegal weapons because it limited the magazine clip to seven clips whereas most law enforcers carry ten clips. So there wasn’t real serious thought put into the legislation, Bill. If we’re going to look at gun control we need to look at as a compressive issue that addresses what we are trying to achieve and that is to reduce violence in our schools. I think we can do better than we’ve done on the Safe Act.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Whose fault was that about the only ten bullets?

John Cahill:
You have to put blame on everyone that had to do with the passage of the legislation. From the Governor’s Office to the Legislature. If we had a serious debate on an issue, weaknesses in the Bill such as that would have been pointed out. And we could have done something I think would have been more beneficial on gun violence along with mental health issues.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Caller does that make sense?

Caller:
Yes it does indeed.

William O’Shaughnessy:
John Cahill … as I told you before, you’ve got the numbers against you. Can you raise enough money to beat this guy.

John Cahill:
I’ve been out there raising money and it’s been going well. It’s going to take a significant amount of resources, but I’m out there, I’m speaking with the donors … for those interested, I’m having a fundraiser at Zuppa’s on Monday in Yonkers. You’re welcome down to the Yonkers waterfront

William O’Shaughnessy:
How much does it cost to get in?

John Cahill:
We’ll talk about that Bill! There are various levels but, listen, all are welcome. It’s not only the big donors, but certainly I want to have the grass roots support particularly from the people in my county and in my hometown to get them involved in the campaign. So I am confident the resources will be there, Bill. If I wasn’t … I wouldn’t have gotten into the race.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Don’t you hate to ask for money?

John Cahill:
You know, it’s hard. You have to think of it this way, Bill. My answer to that is yes. But you know what, if you believe in yourself and if you believe in the message, what you’re selling, you’re not asking for a contribution, you’re asking for an investment in the State. You’re asking for people to believe that you will make the State a better state and therefore what you’re asking for is not just a contribution but an investment.

William O’Shaughnessy:
So, you’ve got Cuomo against Astorino at the top of the ticket. And then for attorney general you have Cahill on two lines – Republican/Conservative against Schneiderman. Do you think enough people from the Democratic Party are going to come over for you?

John Cahill:
That’s certainly going to be the challenge. I recognize that Democrats and Independents and Republicans – I have to reach out to all of those groups. And I certainly plan on doing that. I do not believe people of this State are monolithic voters … that they just go down and vote Democrat. You can just look at the election returns last year, for instance on the Comptroller’s race, the Comptroller got 47% while the Governor candidate – Palladino – got 34%. People are willing – Democrats, Independents – are willing to look at Republicans based upon what their message is and what they are going to offer the State. We have a long history of ticket-splitting in the State. People want to balance government in Albany. I think Democrats and Independents will be there in November.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Is your wife, Kim, OK with this?

John Cahill:
Yes … she’s been great. She has supported me in all these crazy things I’ve done in my life.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Did you walk in one day and say guess what?

John Cahill:
Well this isn’t as bad as when I went to Albany in 1995 when I had four kids under four years of age and traveling back and forth to Albany commuting. At least my kids are older now and she has been my biggest supporter in life. She’s more private than I am, Bill. But she has been 100% behind me. I wouldn’t have done it without her.

William O’Shaughnessy:
So, does Kim Cahill like the rubber chicken dinners?

John Cahill:
She does. She loves meeting people. She loves talking to people. She is much more social than I am, thank God. So she’s going to be a real asset to me on the campaign trail.

William O’Shaughnessy:
What about your kids? How old are they?

John Cahill:
I have 23, 21 and twins that are 19.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Oh, they can put up a lot of posters …

John Cahill:
They sure can. They are my advance team! I had my daughter with me on the Southern Tier trip this past weekend. And it was great for them to see parts of the State they’ve never seen before. My oldest son put off going to law school to basically be my body man for the course of the summer.

William O’Shaughnessy:
What’s his name?

John Cahill:
John Patrick, Jr. I have my daughter Megan who just graduated from Fordham University. She’s is today heading down to my office working the phones with me. My son Jimmy has been traveling around the State with me teaching me how to do social networking. How to do Twitter and how to do Facebook. So it’s really been a wonderful family effort, Bill.

William O’Shaughnessy:
I wish we had television John Cahill. People could see the look of optimism and to use your favorite word … hope. I see it on your face. Again, I’ve got to tell you thought occurs … this guy is too nice. We like rogues! We like Spitzer-types!

John Cahill:
No … listen. When I think about political heroes, one of the guys I really admired growing up was Jack Kemp as a Republican.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Jack Kemp … the quarterback?

John Cahill:
The quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, a congressman ….

William O’Shaughnessy:
He was a nice guy.

John Cahill:
He was a wonderful man, a wonderful politician. And, as you mentioned, he was a nice guy with a vision about opportunity. About creating opportunity for those in the inner cities. He knew immigrants come to our shores looking for hope like my parents did. Let’s leave parties aside, we need to be as a society more open and find ways to bring hope and opportunity to uplift people in our society. I think we can do that better from the Attorney General’s office. That would, obviously, be a priority of mine as an elected official.

William O’Shaughnessy:
John, that’s the second time you bought up immigrants. The paper this morning, the lead editorial in our beloved New York Times – do you have a chance to get their endorsement?

John Cahill:
You know … I’ll certainly have a conversation with them. I’m going to be reaching to everybody. I believe I do have a chance because of the message I have of inclusiveness and a different type of view – ideology toward government. But, you know, that will be up to the New York Times. I’m not counting on it, Bill. But I will certainly have a conversation with them.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Speaking of immigrants, they say that 40,000 children have been picked up at the border and are now in custody. What the hell would you do with them?

John Cahill:
It’s a really, really tough issue. We need to have laws in this country. We need to protect our borders. That’s what defines a country … having borders. And clearly the idea of forcing these kids out of their homelands into the US shores is something that shouldn’t be tolerated – frankly – on either side of the border.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Who is forcing?

John Cahill:
The parents or the societies. Whether Mexican or from Central America coming up through Mexico and forcing these kids basically into the United States because they don’t see that there’s any hope in some of these countries. And I tell you, Bill, I’ve traveled to Central America and you see the poverty in places like El Salvador. You understand why they’re so desperate to get out of El Salvador and into this country. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to secure our borders. But at the same time, we need to realize that these immigrants that are here, they’re not going back. We need to bring them into our society and we need to give them opportunities. I’ve been criticized for supporting the Dream Act which would give tuition assistance to children of undocumented aliens. I don’t believe in penalizing children because of the mistakes of their parents. I just really believe that society – we need to be more open, more inclusive. We need to absolutely secure our borders. That’s what defines us as Americans. But these individuals that have been here for decades now, we need to find a way to bring them into our society.

William O’Shaughnessy:
That’s a very compassionate, generous, enlightened view. It ain’t particularly a Republican view.

John Cahill:
Right … maybe I’m not the typical Republican. I’ll leave that up to others to define. When I think about being a Republican, it’s about opportunity. Whether that is a child of an illegal immigrant or my child, I want to give them the same opportunity. That’s what is going to make our country or our State better … by giving them the tools to succeed and having them as part of our society.

William O’Shaughnessy:
John Cahill, let’s take another call. I always get in trouble with the last call. You’re on the air the Republican/Conservative candidate for Attorney General of the State of New York … John Cahill of Yonkers, where true love conquers …

Caller:
Just kind of curious … since you were talking earlier about your political heroes, Mr. Cahill, who are some of the attorneys general from the past you thought did a really good job?

John Cahill:
Well certainly, we talked a lot about Louis Lefkowitz this morning from New York State. Again, he was the people’s lawyer. He was out there looking to build a better office to serve the people. Not looking for higher political aspirations. Bob Moragenthau, although he wasn’t the attorney general, he was the District Attorney here. Carl Vergari in Westchester County, another wonderful individual who ran a great D.A.’s office as did Jeanine Pirro … and I’m a big fan of Janet DiFiore.

William O’Shaughnessy:
She was a Republican who became a Democrat.

John Cahill:
Yes … but she is a very good, capable district attorney here in Westchester. I’m happy to say that. I think the world of Janet as a person and as the district attorney. Those are the type of people that are in those positions of law enforcement that use those offices for the betterment of the people and not for their own political interests.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Speaking of which, would you ever switch parties to get elected?

John Cahill:
No. I really do believe in the core principles and values of the Republican Party. And that is a party that looks to create opportunities. We talked a lot about why I’m a Republican. Why I’m not a Democrat is because I do believe the Democrats look to create dependency. So I’m just about opportunity. Call me something other than a Republican, Bill, I believe in those type of values that the government can do well, can create opportunities, and have us achieve more. It’s helped me in my life. I wanted to have government do that for others as it has done for me.

William O’Shaughnessy:
I’ll bet you right now that four-year-old John Cahill in Yonkers was the child of Democrat parents.

John Cahill:
No … that’s not true. You would think, my parents, coming from Ireland, and actually my dad was an immigrant. When he immigrated he was a Democrat because in order to get a job you had to enroll as a Democrat. He changed over time. He was very much a conservative guy by the time that he died. But he was, again, about hard work and opportunity. That was a more underlying basis of his political philosophy more than anything else. That’s what I believe. I follow that as the basis of my political philosophy: hard work and opportunity.

William O’Shaughnessy:
John Cahill … I don’t know if you can pull this off. But you’ve got a lot of people rooting for you. All of a sudden, I spend an hour with you and I feel better about politics. I feel better about the Republican Party. You’re a damn breath of fresh air.

John Cahill:
Well … Bill, thank you. As the Mets used to say You Gotta Believe! I can win this. And the polls may say something now and then in June or July, that doesn’t mean anything. What really means something is getting this message out across the State. I appreciate it. It’s been fun being on with you. I think New York can do better. That’s why I’m out there.

William O’Shaughnessy:
Who is more difficult, O’Shaughnessy or Fred Dicker?

John Cahill:
That’s not quite close.

William O’Shaughnessy:
We carry him … proudly … every afternoon at 4 on WVOX.

John Cahill:
I know. Fred and I go way back. We’ve had our conversations over the years … and listen … he’s a tough journalist up in Albany. It’s great to be on with you, Bill. You’ve been a good friend.

# # #

William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington. He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America. He operates two of the last independent stations in the New York area: WVOX and WVIP.

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files” was released in January, 2011. He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, an anthology which will include this interview with John Cahill.

Contact:
William O’Shaughnessy
914-980-7003
wfo@wvox.com

Cindy Gallagher
Whitney Media
914-235-3279
cindy@wvox.com

WO re: The Passing of Ruby Dee

William O’Shaughnessy

           President          

Whitney Media

WVOX and WVIP

 

Re:

The Passing of

Ruby Dee

 

June 12, 2014

 

With the passing of Ruby Dee, the American theatre has lost one of its most gifted and talented actors.  And WVOX has lost a neighbor.

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee – you have to take them together – were a beloved presence in our home heath.

When people think of New Rochelle … they think of Dick Van Dyke.  But that was make believe.  Ossie and Ruby were for real.  They were very real.

Over the years she would walk Pinebrook Boulevard, taking her daily constitutional in every season and she would cause ‘whiplash’ for many a passing motorist:  “Isn’t that Ruby Dee!”  And for many of her 91 years, it was.

WO ruby ossieOssie and Ruby.  As the African-American Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne of the modern American theatre, they were royalty in that profession.  But to all of us privileged to know and love them … they were “of the hood.”  Neighbors.

They performed in theatres, television and radio studios and on movie lots.  But they did some of their best work out on the streets as citizen-activists.

A young Malcolm X used to sit in the living room of their big, sprawling house on Cortland Avenue and rage into the night about injustice and inequality.  And a former police commissioner of this very city actually kept quite an active “Subversive” file dedicated entirely to the most suspicious left-leaving “activist exploits” of the former Ruby Wallace and her equally dangerous husband.

They could have lived in any upscale, tony venue:  Greenwich, Waccabuc, Manhasset, Bronxville, Scarsdale, Bedford or Rye.  But they lived all their days in New Rochelle, just a few blocks from our local community broadcasting station which they supported all their days in every season.

When once I thanked Ossie for being so nice and so supportive of our local station, he said:  “Ruby and I travel all over the world making movies and we go where there is an audience.  When we’re on the road, you watch our home.  We have to be nice to you.” 

My mind drifts back many years to a political fundraiser we had at Le Cirque for Governor Mario Cuomo.  A thousand dollars a ticket.  When it was winding down and almost over … a car pulled up and delivered an exhausted looking Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis.  They had just come from Kennedy airport after a long, bumpy transcontinental flight from Europe.

Ruby reached in her pocketbook and presented two checks for the Cuomo campaign.  When I suggested they could just as easily have mailed them in, she said:  “Not for him.  Not for you.  We wanted to deliver them in person.”   

There was another night at Le Cirque for dinner.  When the main course arrived, I had my fork poised in hand and ready to dig in.  Ruby said:  “Not yet … a prayer first,” and she had us clasp hands all round while she whispered a prayer for world peace.  You do that at home, one would imagine.  But she did it anywhere she damn well pleased.

Mario Cuomo used to say he prays for ‘sureness.’  I’m not sure about a lot of things.  But of this I’m sure:  Ossie Davis was a saint.

And now she’s gone to meet him on a bigger, better, sweeter stage.

You have to give them equal billing.

 

 

Contact

William O’Shaughnessy

914-235-3279 … 914-980-7003

wfo@wvox.com

Remarks of WO re: Presentation of The Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts to Governor MARIO M. CUOMO

Remarks

of

William O’Shaughnessy

Dutch Treat Club Annual Dinner

Presentation of The Gold Medal
for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts

to

Governor MARIO M. CUOMO

The Harvard Club
New York City
May 5, 2014

 

Fellow Dutch Treaters.  I have never felt less worthy in my life. 

We all make our living with words … that’s certainly true for the brilliant Mark Russell and for a legendary lyricist like Sheldon Harnick.

And words are equally essential to the brilliance of Mark Nadler and Anita Gillette and Alan Schmuckler.

As for me, I’m afraid they usually emerge inartfully, awkwardly and imprecisely.

So I feel most inadequate indeed to the task of presuming merely to thank you for your marvelous gesture in bestowing your prestigious Gold Medal on MARIO MATTHEW CUOMO … from whom words cascade with such grace and beauty and precision and power on all the great issues of the day.

The Governor … who has graced our influential podium to kick off several seasons … deeply and dearly wishes he could join you.  And recently in a voice laden with emotion and regret, asked me to assure you of that.

He loves the Dutch Treat Club and he loves especially the “give and take” of the Question and Answer sessions which always followed his formal presentations.  Every time he appeared I would get a call: “Can’t we just do Q and A … they’re so damn bright!”  But Donnelly and Fox always insisted he pay for his lunch with a major address!

And speaking of which … I hope you’ll allow me just a personal observation while we’re on the subject:  I don’t think we’ve encountered – any of us – two nicer individuals than our two leaders:  John Donnelly and Ray Fox!

Dutch Treat has a lot of luminous and vivid characters … many here assembled tonight … like our spectacular Peggy Burton, a class act in every season, on whom I’ve had an unrequited crush for 20 years!

Now I won’t intrude for very long on your evening.  You’ve struck your Gold Medal for the Governor with the lovely – and accurate – phrase “Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.” 

I’ll tell you who would have loved this night:  Kitty Carlisle Hart, who for many of her 96 years, headed the New York State Council on the Arts.  Mrs. Hart loved Mario Cuomo.  For one thing, he never failed to reappoint her … or denied a request for funding!  Maybe that’s why she called him “Governor Darling!”

Come to think of it … I think she called Nelson Rockefeller … and Hugh Carey … the same thing.  But Mario was her favorite!

When he heard of your generosity and the Arts Gold Medal … the Governor dispatched an immediate email touched with his marvelous wit:  “I don’t dance  … I don’t sing … what do you want of me, O’Shaughnessy?”

I’ve thought about this … and what we “want” … from him even in his 82nd year.  Especially in his 82nd year.

We want him only to continue to be Mario Cuomo … to instruct us … to enrich the public discourse about us … to enlighten us … to inspire us.

And … to use his own favorite word:  to make our world “sweeter” than it is.

You have chosen well.  He’s a great man.  And, like I said at the beginning … I’m not worthy to loose the strap of his sandal …

He is surely one of the very greatest of our time … who has had a lot written and said about him … as when the Boston Globe called him “the great philosopher statesman of the American nation.”

So … a lot of recognition in his already long life … a lot of encomiums for this extraordinary man.

And now, by your generous hand:  One more:

He now has a Dutch Treat Gold Medal … thanks to you.

 

William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America.  He operates two of the last independent stations in the New York area: WVOX and WVIP.

 

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files” was released in January, 2011.  He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, an anthology which will include these remarks about Mario Cuomo and the Dutch Treat Club.

Cindy Gallagher
Whitney Media
914-235-3279
cindy@wvox.com

90th Birthday Celebration for Judge Sam Fredman

 

March 9, 2014
Knollwood Country Club
Elmsford, New York

Welcome to a celebration of the 90th Anniversary of the Natal Day of a Westchester Legend:  Sam the Man … Mr. Justice Samuel George Fredman!

This is indeed an historic occasion … so much so they even changed the clocks all over America for him last night!

You’ve left your hearth and home on this March 9th as another Spring hovers on the horizon after a long, mean, drodsome Winter.  You came because you wanted to be with this amazing man who has meant so much in all our lives … not alone because you admire, respect and revere him … but for many of us … we’re here because we truly love the man.

Here assembled are his friends political … his friends judicial … his friends religious (we even have not one, but two cantors who will perform later with a special song!)

And we really have – as you can see with only a cursory and very brief perusal of the lovely ballroom of this great Westchester country club – the White Plains Establishment!

I know White Plains.  It’s where all my divorce lawyers are!

Even a New Rochelle guy can recognize and not fail to be impressed by the standing and stature of those from your home heath who are here to celebrate with Sam.

There are so many of high estate from White Plains alone … I wonder who would get the headline in The Journal News if a bomb suddenly went off.

But come to think of it … I know we have Mayor Tom Roach … and former mayors Al DelVecchio and Joe Delfino … if it was The Journal News … it would probably be Adam Bradley!

The other mayors (and Milton Hoffman) will forgive me!

# # # 

Teilhard de Chardin, the great Jesuit philosopher-paleontologist, memorably wrote of the “Diminishments’ we all suffer.  It’s a great word:  diminishments.  Sam … as we observe you now with all your powers intact and very much on display with your friends tonight … we’d have to conclude that – somehow – you’ve managed to conquer all those “diminishments” and put them to exile.

I don’t know how you manage to do it, Mr. Justice – in every season.  As I approach senility, I’m reminded that Sirio Maccioni, the great Ringmaster of Le Cirque recently delightfully observed that Italians have a saying:  “If you wake up in the morning and nothing aches … you’re dead!”  But Sirio is only 81.  So what the hell does he know!

# # #

I won’t intrude for very long on your evening … but as I think about Sam Fredman and what he means to our county and state and his profession … I’m reminded of something said a long time ago, during a moment of reflection by a friend of his – a former governor, in fact – who has had a great impact on both our lives.

Mr. Cuomo once told me he prays for “Sureness.”  For sureness …

And even as I approach 76 myself … I’m not sure about a lot of things.

But of only this am I sure:  We are sure that you are a great man, Sam Fredman.

And when the history of our time in Westchester and New York State is written, compiled and bound and preserved … your name will be writ large as one of our foremost leaders, as one of our legends.

And we thus have to put you right up there with the great Nelson Rockefeller … and Ed Michaelian … Bill Luddy … and Nita Lowey, that extraordinary woman who graces us with her presence today.  And Fredman belongs with Dick Daronco, WVOX’s former Pelham Town correspondent, whose name adorns our courthouse … and New Rochelle’s Alvin Ruskin … the Judges Gagliardi … William Butcher … and Malcolm Wilson, of sainted memory.

These are – and were – the giants of our time in the Golden Apple.  And you are among them.  Forever.

These proceedings are greatly enhanced by the presence of Westchester Democratic chairman Reggie Lafayette … New York Democratic State Party Treasurer David Alpert … Appellate Justice Mark Dillon … the great squire of Winged Foot (and Bedford) Mr. Justice Nick Colabella and Nancy Colabella, his Irish wife! … also the Dean of the Westchester press corps:  Milt Hoffman … Court of Claims Madame Justice Terri Ruderman and her husband Jerry Ruderman … also the Surrogate of Westchester and the Pride of the FBI:  Mr. Justice Anthony Scarpino.  And a scion of a great Westchester family Kevin Plunkett, who, as Deputy County Executive, is so highly respected as is his boss Rob Astorino.  And, yes, Kevin is the brother of the estimable Bill Plunkett.

# # #

Sam’s great friend, the former Chief Judge Frank Nicolai is at a class reunion at the Coast Guard Academy in South Carolina.  But we’re so glad to have Aileen Nicolai and their daughter Dr. Angelique Nicolai!

## #

Also Carolyn Abramowitz and Colonel Jeff Abramowitz, regimental commander at Fort Knox, Kentucky!

# # #

And Cantor Jack Mendelsohn and his wife Cantor Freida Mendelsohn with a special song for Sam.  I wanted Irish bagpipes!  We had them already to go!  But Sam said:  “Save that for the broadcast next Monday!”

I’m not sure if the cantors will perform in English or Hebrew?  If it’s in Hebrew … I will translate for you!  But go slow …!

We have some very important speakers who will pay tribute to Mr. Justice Fredman.

But first I want to share with you a lovely, graceful note dispatched this week from the Chicago office by the managing partner of Sam’s 11-hundred member law firm, Wilson Elser:  Daniel McMahon.  He’s Irish … with the “Gift” … so what do you expect?  But listen to this as it really captures Fredman:

“It’s not often we get to wish someone a happy 90th birthday, let alone one of our colleagues at Wilson Elser.  Sam Fredman has enjoyed a rich and storied career as a matrimonial attorney, a justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, and, most recently, a sought-after master arbitrator.

Much to our delight, Sam chose to round out his career at Wilson Elser (unless we’re but a stepping stone!) where for the past 12 years he has worked in our White Plains office as counsel and mentor to many grateful colleagues and clients.

Sam’s ability to bring together divergent parties and find common ground among their varied interests epitomizes his successful legal career.  He brings these same talents to bear in his private life, where he has been a beloved and legendary figure in several educational, governmental and religious organizations in which he has played key leadership roles.

A member of “The Greatest Generation,” Sam served in the U.S. Army Air Force from 1943 – 1946 and saw action in the South Pacific and Japan – for which we thank him.  Of course “greatest” aptly describes Sam on a number of levels, as those who daily benefit from his wisdom, wit and unwavering good cheer well know.”

 

                                                             – – – Daniel J. McMahon, Esq.

 

There’s also a note which arrived at WVOX yesterday marked:  “Saturday Delivery” from a very special individual who many of your know and we all admire.  He was called by the Boston Globe, “the great philosopher-statesman of the American nation.” I have disrespectfully called him a “failed baseball player with too many vowels in his name.” 

Here’s what he wrote for Sam.  It’s very brief.  We also have a recording of it for you, Judge.

Sam:

“I regret not being able to be present in person on this auspicious occasion when you are proving that doing good for others assures … longevity.

I’m not surprised … that you have manifested your high intelligence, your immense generosity, and your political expertise, all accompanied by your joyous love of life.

My toast to you is for continued good health and I make it in Italian … because in Italian it is very special.  In Italian I say to you I wish all good things for you … per-cento anni … for 100 years, at least …

Keep going.  Keep going, Sam … we love you.”

Signed … simply … Mario.   Here’s the Original.

# # #

And finally, the real VIP’s and those closest to Sam:  his sons and heirs and his grandchildren:  Neil Fredman and his wife Michelle.  Andy Fredman and his wife Susan.  And his grandchildren Daniel and his wife Stephanie … Ariel and her husband Perry Stuart … Joshua and compadre Jamie  and Alie, who works in education with Eva Moscowitz.

# # #

Sam …  We’ve had a lot of letters.  And I just wanted to share one more Cindy found in our archives at the station.  It was a personal letter to you about a piece you did for the Times when David Brooks, their brilliant columnist, had suggested that his readers do a “Life Report.”  Here’s my reaction to your submission: 

“Mr. Justice Sam:

I read your “Life Report” for David Brooks.

And while beautifully done with all your graceful style and marvelous wit … I hope you will forgive the observation that it does not nearly capture the greatness – and yes, the goodness – of the Sam Fredman we know and love.

I’m talking about the Sam Fredman who was a “nice man in a murky profession,” which appellation I gave you so many years ago.  Or the Sam Fredman the lowlifes and sharks in your matrimonial tribe used to derisively dismiss as a “settler” … a “conciliator” … a “compromiser.”  And it wasn’t meant as a compliment.

I just don’t think that comes through in the retrospective you prepared for Brooks.

Nor does the Sam Fredman who always steered his Democratic Party to champion hopeless, but worthy pursuits … as when a failed baseball player with too many vowels in his name who dared aspire to be governor had only a meager 9% in Westchester.  But he had Fredman.  Nita Lowey had 4%.  But she had Fredman.

Actually, as I think about it … I may do my own “Life Report” one of these days.  I’ll have to stretch and scramble to come up with some commendable things I’ve done in my already long life. 

But if there were a few worthy moments during my erratic stewardship of Bill O’Shaughnessy … they could not have been accomplished without you.  Because I wouldn’t have been able to do anything without the radio podium and broadcasting platform you helped protect, defend and save harmless in all the seasons of my life.

Yours is a beautiful piece.  But you can do better by Fredman.  You should enlarge and expand on it and make it into a book.  A whole chapter should be devoted to how you advocated for Jewish causes over the years … without trampling on the free speech and opinions of others.  And how you subtly and with gentle persuasion and compelling wisdom always kept me and mine firmly inclined to the Jewish view on matters domestic and international …”

Now here is the Man of the Hour:  Mr. Justice Sam Fredman, who has promised to keep it to an hour and a half.

# # #

Sam:  if you forget everything said here tonight … all the encomiums and expressions of your worth and value to so many … remember only this:  collectively … and individually … We … love … you!

# # #

We should thank John Sarcone for using his influence to persuade Knollwood to take us in after this party became too big for another venue.  You should know, in the intimacy of this grand ballroom, that this was to be a rather “restrained” affair with but a few of Sam’s nearest and dearest.  But, Sam being Sam, it grew and grew.  And so we thank John Sarcone and Mauro Piccininni , the general manager, for our use of the hall.  The dinner was spectacular!  And the next time somebody takes a shot at “country club food” … send them to Knollwood and Brother Piccininni!

# # # 

William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America.  He operates two of the last independent stations in the New York area: WVOX and WVIP.

 

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files” was released in January, 2011.  He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, an anthology which will include these remarks about Justice Samuel G. Fredman.

Contact:

William O’Shaughnessy
914-980-7003
wfo@wvox.com

Cindy Gallagher
Whitney Media
914-235-3279
cindy@wvox.com

William O’Shaughnessy Interviews Alfred F. Kelly, Jr.

William O’Shaughnessy

President & Editorial Director

WVOX and WVIP

Interview with 

Alfred F. Kelly, Jr.

President & CEO

NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Company

Super Bowl XLVIII

February 27, 2014

 

Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. ran Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014, the very first outdoor-cold weather gridiron classic in N.F.L. history.  He was a former president of American Express and as a young man had a very important post in the Reagan White House.  We spoke of his Catholic faith, his friendship with Cardinal Dolan and his Westchester family.  Kelly has been a class act in every season.  And he’s only 55.

Although the legendary sportswriter Jimmy Cannon once called Sports “the toys of a nation,” football, which resembles sanctioned violence (our Westchester neighbor Commissioner Roger Goodell will forgive me) has appeal for many of our neighbors. 115 million watched the extravaganza hosted by Kelly and his NY/NJ Super Bowl associates.

We were flattered that just a few weeks after the big event he came by his homet

own station for this interview.  We talked of many things – besides football.  Al Kelly is quite a guy, as you will see …

William O’Shaughnessy:

Good morning, Westchester … it’s what the Brits would call a “brilliant day” here in our home heath of Westchester.  For the next several minutes while we’re in your care and keeping – we have someone I’ve been looking forward to interviewing for a long time.  You’ve read about him in the public press.  This is his home heath as well, New Rochelle.  He grew up around here.  He’s an Iona guy.  He was an elder of Iona College.  He has enormous influence around that campus because he raises a lot of money for them.  But in recent years he had a career change.  You may have known him as the president of a small, tiny, little company called American Express … Amex, the huge credit card company – where he served for many years as president with our New Rochelle neighbor Ken Chenault, husband of Kathryn Chenault.  His name is Alfred F. Kelly, Jr.  And recently – you must know this – he’s been running the Super Bowl.  Al Kelly … are you glad you did it?

Al Kelly:

Good morning, Bill.  It’s a pleasure to be with you and the folks of Westchester County.  I’m delighted I did it.  It was a wonderful event for this region.  Considering the fact that Super Bowls have been played for almost five decades and 1/16th of the National Football League is in this region and calls this region home, in my mind it was high time this great game for American sports came to the greatest area in America and I think we put on a terrific show … this region has so much to offer.   It was really my pleasure to really play a bit of a “maestro” role in bringing tens of thousands of people together to make it a success.  But we’re really pleased with the way it went.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Was it a success, Al Kelly?

Al Kelly:

I do believe it was, Bill … on all accounts.  It was the most watched television show in television history. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

How many people?

Al Kelly:

111.5 million people.  It beat the Super Bowl of three years ago when the Giants beat the Patriots by a few points.  One of the reasons it did so well on television despite the fact it wasn’t a terribly competitive game, was because we were able to create an atmosphere where this really was – in this area – almost like either the Giants or Jets, or both, were playing in it.  And the reality is we had a 51 share in this market where a typical Super Bowl where the Giants or Jets are not in would get a 30 share.  And that’s because we got the region fired up about this great opportunity. There was a 21% increase in the number of credentialed media that followed this game.  6,400 credentialed media came to the Super Bowl and Super Bowl week.  One of the things I looked at from the very beginning – as did the Tisch, Mara and Johnson families – was that we wanted to take this platform of the Super Bowl and make sure we did some good for the community.  Typically a host committee would struggle to raise a million dollars for a single project.  We have raised almost 12 million dollars and we have initiated or completed or have in progress over 50 projects on both sides of the Hudson River, all aimed at school-age youth and facilities they use after school … in the evenings … on the weekends and in the summers.  We did a playground in White Plains, a brand-new playground from scratch.  We have done community center renovations.  We put new ball fields in place.  And these are things, Bill, that are going to last for decades.  And my hope is that people are going to say that in 2014 the Super Bowl was played here and this field, this community center, this playground we are enjoying today – five, ten, fifteen years later – came about because of the Super Bowl being here.  That “Legacy” element is the most gratifying work we’ve done.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Alfred Kelly, Jr. … you’re working for the Maras … and I’m reminded that Wellington Mara, of sainted memory, sat right at that very microphone, several times … and also the Tischs and Woody Johnson of the Jets.  How’s that different from working for a board of directors of Amex, where once you presided?

Al Kelly:

Well, interestingly enough, this is a job where I don’t think I’ve ever had more bosses. New York-New Jersey Host Company is a company.  In addition to being CEO, I was chairman of a board that had eight members on it.  The owners couldn’t be members of it because we were a “not-for-profit” organization and the Giants and Jets are “for profit” organizations.  So we actually had an “advisory committee” where I met with the owners once a month. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Were they easy to deal with?

Al Kelly:

They were terrific.  I have to say, they were perfect bosses.  They were there when I needed them.  They largely left me to do my thing.  We called upon them tremendously as far as appearances.  I had them at many breakfasts, cocktails parties and unless they were traveling, they would never say no.  I couldn’t have asked for more.  I knew the Maras and I knew John Tisch a bit.  I didn’t know the rest of the Tisch family and I didn’t know Woody Johnson before I got into this and they really have been a real pleasure to deal with.  Interestingly enough, John Tisch and Woody Johnson, who were the co-chairs of this, were both born in New Jersey and today live in Manhattan.  And for them to share a New York-New Jersey Super Bowl was important to them personally because this was their home area and the fact they were able to show off their terrific new stadium to the world also gave them a real sense of pride.  And it is a beautiful facility they’ve built.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Alfred Kelly, Jr., head of the Super Bowl, do you think there will ever be another one around here?

Al Kelly:

Obviously, it’s one of the smallest, elitist clubs in the world, the 32 owners of the National Football League.  They determine where the Super Bowls go.  And as of the current by-laws in the League:  A:  It can only be in a region where there is an NFL franchise.  And B:, Bill, there is this rule that the commissioner allowed a one-time pass on which a Super Bowl can only be held in a region where there’s an average temperature in February of at least 55 degrees.  So, obviously, that was waived, even though we got pretty darn close to 55 degrees on February 2nd. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

You were bailed out by the weatherman.  What if we had a blizzard?  Would you be scrambling now to explain the weather?

Al Kelly:

Well, from the beginning, two things I knew I couldn’t control were the weather and who was going to play in the game and thus determine the competitiveness of the game.  Despite the fact that a lot of people paid a lot of attention to the weather, I never really worried about it per se.  I just made sure we were prepared.  We had great cooperation from Governor Christie and Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg and then Mayor DeBlasio who came in and was incredibly supportive in his early days in office.  We have great assets in this region.  We know how to clear snow.  In fact, both governors and the mayor were prepared to prioritize where the snow removal happened based upon the day of the week in Super Bowl week and what events were happening and where they were happening.  Truthfully, Bill, it would have taken the wrong storm at exactly the wrong time to impact the game because typically, even in a blizzard, we have a period of eight to ten hours where we’re paralyzed.  But after that you could start to get it cleared out.  There have been a couple of times this winter where it started to snow at 11 in the morning and it snowed until 10 at night.   Obviously, that kind of day would have been a problem.  But I invited Cardinal Dolan, a good friend of my wife Peggy and me, about six months before … and  I gave him the assignment of praying for good weather.  Unfortunately, the Cardinal ultimately couldn’t come to the game but I think the fact that if he’s ever up for sainthood, I’ll be able to say that he had a miracle by creating the best day in 2014 to date, including today, which was February 2nd.

William O’Shaughnessy:

I just got a note from him this week, His Eminence will claim credit for this, you know how he operates!

Al Kelly:

And he should … I’m happy to give it to him!

William O’Shaughnessy:

His name is Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. … he’s a Westchester guy, lives in Rye with his wife Peggy.  Didn’t you two fall in love right in our backyard here?

Al Kelly:

We did.  I grew up in the Crestwood section of Yonkers.  Peggy grew up in Port Chester.  I actually met her at her senior prom at Holy Child where she was …

William O’Shaughnessy:

Was she with somebody else …?

Al Kelly:

She was with somebody else!  I was a year older, a freshman at Iona College after four years at Iona Prep.  She was going to Iona College … so I was introduced to her at the prom and six months later, in December of 1977, I took her to an Iona College basketball game and that was our first date and we dated for seven years and September of last year, we were married for 30 years, so we’ve been together quite a while …

William O’Shaughnessy:

And you have a few children?

Al Kelly:

We do, we have five children.  Our two boys are graduates of Iona Prep.  Our two girls are graduates of the School of the Holy Child where I happen to be Chairman of the Board of Trustees.  And believe it or not we have this incredible gift of a fourth grader who is ten years younger than our fourth child and 17 years younger than our oldest child and she is an absolute gift from the good Lord and she keeps us as young as can be.  She is a fourth grader at Resurrection School in Rye. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Al Kelly, Jr., you’re what I used to call a “Castle Irishman.” It’s a term of admiration, it’s not a pejorative term.  You remind me of another son of Westchester … Jim Comey, he’s got five kids.  And what does Comey do?  He’s head of the FBI!  Is this a Roman thing … you’ve got to have five kids?  Kelly … and Comey?  Or the Plunketts!

Al Kelly:

I don’t know … I’m the oldest of seven.  We never really set out, when we were engaged or in our early years of marriage, with a particular number of children in mind.  It is what it is.  There was no plan for us vis a vis children.  But we have five terrific kids.  The older four have gone to … Boston College and we’ve had four BC graduates.  Father Lahey, their president, told me our fourth grader is already accepted into the Class of 2026! 

William O’Shaughnessy:

So your faith – the Catholic faith of the Roman Church – means a lot to you? 

Al Kelly:

It does.  I grew up … my parents still live in the Crestwood section of Yonkers. My dad goes to Mass every single day at Annunciation in Crestwood.  I can’t quite be that loyal.  It does mean a lot to me.  I’m very fond of our current cardinal and he has me extraordinarily involved in the Board of Trustees of Saint Joseph’s Seminary.  I am on the Finance Council of the Archdiocese of New York.  I’m the Vice President of the New York Catholic Foundation.  So he’s a hard guy to say no to.  I have a lot of faith in him and a lot of faith in our Church.  It is an important part of my life.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Al Kelly, who better to ask:  What do you think of the new Pope?  I can’t get enough of the guy …

Al Kelly:

I do think he’s been an incredible breath of fresh air.  One of the challenges the Church has is that it has lost a great deal of people.  Not necessarily to other faiths or other churches … just the fact that they’ve lost them.  I think they can be brought back and I think Pope Francis has been a real evangelist and I happen to think Cardinal Dolan has that similar personality.  And quite frankly, Bill, not enough priests have this evangelistic personality and objective where they really need to understand the Church is about the people and we need to have the people there for the Church to be vibrant.  I think that message the Pope is sending is that we need people back and involved in the Church and I think he’s done a wonderful job of setting tone in his first year as Pope. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Alfred Kelly … Mario Cuomo … father of our present governor, Andrew Cuomo, was rooting for your friend Cardinal Dolan to be pope.  Did you ever talk to the cardinal and say, did you want the job?

Al Kelly:

Well, I think he, like many people in that position, would do whatever you are asked, much like our incredible young women and men who serve in the military.  I’ve gotten a chance to witness some of these people in this role of running the Super Bowl.  These people are incredibly selfless and do what they’re needed to do and go where they need to go and I think people like Cardinal Dolan will do what is necessary and what is right.  And if the wisdom of the other 125 Cardinals would be that he should be the pope, I think he would gladly embrace that.  If the wisdom is that he should be the head of the Archdiocese of New York, he would be happy doing that as well.  That’s one of the great things about him: he’s living in the moment. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Alfred Kelly, Jr. … I don’t want to patronize you, but you have neighbors … in Scarsdale, Bronxville, Rye and Bedford … places with a lot of “yuppie,” hedge fund guys who take and give nothing back.  Do you and Peggy ever get kind of discouraged when you look around you … at the lack of manners … the lack of involvement?  The selfishness?

Al Kelly:

We do what we do and we don’t look around at others or judge other people.  I think both of us feel extraordinarily blessed.  I’ve had success from a combination of hard work and good fortune and our big things are healthcare and Catholic education and that’s the real core or our focus from a charity perspective, Bill.  It’s something we believe: if we’ve had some good fortune, we should try to help other people where we can.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Second time I’ve mentioned him, but Mario Cuomo said he prays for “sureness.”  Your Catholic faith, you’ve spoken eloquently of it this morning … are you … sure … about all this? 

Al Kelly:

You have to have faith.  Without it, it kind of leaves a void.  Does that mean our Church is perfect?  It’s far from it.  And it has its warts like every other or many other organizations do and I think one of the things Pope Francis is trying to do is deal with some of those warts.  Whether you look at the lack of men going into the priesthood …  I don’t know what it’s going to be like for my kids.  Who is going to say Mass on Sunday?  I know there are many more priests retiring every year than there are being ordained and obviously it’s just mathematics!  So that certainly is a concern for me.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Did you ever think about being a priest?

Al Kelly:

I never did, no.  I don’t know why.  It is a calling … but it is not something I’ve thought about. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Al Kelly, Jr., we’ve roamed far and wide.  Let’s get away from your soul and your Church for the moment and your friend the cardinal … and go back to the Super Bowl which you ran, in every telling and in every account, brilliantly.  What’s next?  You also ran that little company American Express, which has been so good to me, in every season.  Aren’t you also a director of Hershey and a big insurance company?

Al Kelly:

Well, I am not currently on the Hershey board anymore, but I am on the board of Met Life and  recently, in January, I joined the board of Visa in San Francisco and I’m on the board of New York Presbyterian Hospital where I spend a fair amount of time.  I think it’s a phenomenal facility and phenomenal organization.  I don’t know what’s next, Bill.  I’m going to take the next six – eight weeks and help them get things cleaned up and closed down, bills to pay, reports to write, tax returns to file, audits to complete.  And then I want to take some time.  I’m not looking to jump into anything.  I have to decide if I want to go back into a big corporate job or do a portfolio of things.  The thing I know for sure is I want to work full time, it’s just a matter of whether I piece together four or five or six different things that role up to a full time role.  Or whether I take a full time role in corporate America.  I also have to decide how strongly I feel about going back into financial services which is kind of where I have the most experience.  But it certainly has become an incredibly regulated industry.  

William O’Shaughnessy:

Football … Al Kelly.  I once had a conversation … again I summon the name of Well Mara, of sainted memory.  I once asked Mr. Mara:  isn’t it really sanctioned violence.  You seem like a nice, gentle guy.  Are you uncomfortable when you see them get knocked around and flattened on the field?

Al Kelly:

These folks are in incredible shape.  I’ve had the good fortune of  watching a couple of N.F.L. games from the field and from that angle and perspective, Bill, you really see how fast and tough the game is.  I think it’s one of the challenges and Commissioner Goodell talked about it.  One of the challenges for the  League is how to make sure these young men who play the game are as protected as they can possibly be.  But on the other hand, the roughness, the toughness of it is part of the attractiveness of the game.  I have to say that although I’m a football fan, I’m probably a college basketball fan more than anything else.  I didn’t take this job because of this dying love for football – or even of sports – I took this job because of a love for this region of the country where I grew up and seeing that this incredible, ultimate football game could be a catalyst for economic benefit, tourism, charitable legacy work for this region and galvanize people around the Super Bowl much more than just watching a football game.  And that’s what got me excited about this opportunity and has me feeling good about it now that it is over.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Flash … I’ve got a thought.  Have you ever thought … Al Kelly, Jr. … about politics?

Al Kelly:

There was a time, Bill … probably as little as ten years ago when I did.  My father dabbled in it a little bit in Yonkers …

William O’Shaughnessy:

What did he do?

Al Kelly:

He ran for the local city council in Yonkers.  I have to admit, I’ve been quite turned off, quite honestly.  To fix it, we almost would need a wave of people to come in at the same time with the same objective of saying let’s get rid of this nonsense and say what do we must do to really fix our problems.  It feels like whether it’s at the state or federal level, the country is paralyzed and I’m the kind of guy who likes action, likes closure and I don’t see a lot of action or closure in government right now, so that’s not something I see myself doing at this point.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Is there anybody out there whose conduct commends itself to your favorable judgment?  Anybody you admire abroad in the land?

Al Kelly:

Well I think Rob Astorino has done a terrific job as the Westchester county executive.  I know people see their property taxes going up.  But their taxes aren’t going up because of the Westchester tax.  Westchester County taxes are a small piece of it.  Rob, I think, has taken very much a business approach to this by not trying to make his job bigger, but to make his job smaller.  And to try to really focus on what’s important.  And I think he’s done a really nice job in Westchester. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

What about the governor he might run against?  Andrew?

Al Kelly:

Well, I think Governor Cuomo has done a good job as well.  He took on the courageous decision of doing something about the Tappan Zee Bridge and these are not easy decisions because of the fact that it takes years and years for these things to happen and you start these projects and you’ll never see them end on your watch.  And I know when I was at the White House, President Reagan initiated the new 747’s that would serve as Air Force One … but he was never going to fly on a 747 as Air Force One.  But those were courageous decisions to start something somebody else is going to get credit for.  That takes some courage. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

When you were at the White House, what did you do for President Reagan?

Al Kelly:

I was in charge of Information Technology for eight of the eleven agencies that comprise the Office of the President.  So I had the desktops, which at the time were word processing machines and I was converting over to IBM pc’s.  I was there during the email system profs which got a lot of  attention during the Iran Contra affair where John Poindexter and Bud McFarlane and ultimately Ollie North all had their … the history books will write that it is the first time people realized that – unlike phone calls that go away when they’re over – emails don’t disappear. … what really was the first instant of an email being a real zinger and capturing something that somebody did after the fact when the person would have thought it might have been private or might have gone away.  It was an incredible time for me as a young person to have a job of that stature and be able to enjoy Washington which is a wonderful city … a great place to live and we enjoyed the three years we were down there.

William O’Shaughnessy:

What did you think of Ronald Wilson Reagan?

Al Kelly:

I can’t say enough good things about him.  Again, a guy who had vision, tried to pull people together of all kinds.  We’ve talked about it, but it’s true … he and Tip O’Neill could get in a room together – their politics were vastly different – but let’s get stuff done.  It’s been so disappointing to me that President Obama and John Boehner can’t get in a room and put stuff aside and say: for the good of the country, let’s just get things done!  I’d be hard pressed for anybody to be terribly impressed with the list – or lack of a list – of things that have gotten done, unfortunately, since president Obama became President.  It’s not all his fault.  But it’s a short piece of paper.  It’s not a chapter in a book. It’s not even probably a full page in a chapter.  That’s because Washington has been really in a state of being paralyzed. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

What do you think about President Barack Obama?

Al Kelly

I did not vote for him … but when I watched him on Election Night and when I watched him on the first Inauguration … I said: you know what … this is going to be good for the country.  He is going to be a real breath of fresh air.  He’s going to bring people together.  He’s going to galvanize people.  I can’t tell you how disappointed I’ve been.  It’s been anything but that.  He’s been a bit too divisive and hasn’t really galvanized people.  And unfortunately, president of the United States is a humungous job and, quite frankly, if you look at his resume and his background, you wouldn’t hire him for president of practically anything. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

You would … not?

Al Kelly:

You wouldn’t … just on the merits of what he’s got on his resume!

William O’Shaughnessy:

Could he have run the Super Bowl like Alfred Kelly, Jr.?

Al Kelly:

I don’t want to get into that … I’m sure many people could have done a better job than I did.  I’m happy with what I did, but I don’t want to get into comparing who else could have done it.

William O’Shaughnessy:

I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but as I think about all the information and computer stuff in your background … you don’t look like a “computer geek” … yet your were running the damn White House.

Al Kelly:

Well, you’ve got to remember, Bill …  I have a 1980 Computer Science degree from Iona College and today my 10-year-old runs rings around me.  You wouldn’t want me …

William O’Shaughnessy:

You’re kidding …?

Al Kelly:

Oh, my gosh!  It’s changed.  It’s one of the most incredible things about the last 30 – 40 years, the changes in technology. And the speed at which they are changing.  It is truly amazing.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Al Kelly … you’re a man of so many parts … I have to ask what you think of this NSA spying on our European friends? It seems everything you do these days, the government is watching …

Al Kelly:

Well, I think the government has to do its job of safeguarding us.  I think it’s one of the principal jobs of the Federal Government … to safeguard our borders and safeguard our liberty.  And I’m not smart enough, Bill, to judge exactly what we ought to do to make sure we’re safe.  That said … I do think some spying, some active listening, probably has to play a role in that activity of protecting our freedom and protecting our way life and protecting our borders.  Whether it has gone too far is not really – I don’t have enough information – to make that judgment.  I’m not sure there’s really anybody in the private sector that does have enough information to make the judgment if we’ve really gone too far.  I could tell you we’d all be very upset if the Federal government wasn’t doing the things necessary to protect our liberty … because at the end of the day the thing that makes our country the great country it is, is that it is a true democracy and we do live in true freedom where you have all kinds of states doing all kinds of things but we all do coalesce as one country behind our freedom!

William O’Shaughnessy:

Alfred F. Kelly … what does F stand for?  I’ll bet I can guess.

Al Kelly:

Francis …

William O’Shaughnessy:

You’ve been very generous to indulge my curiosity about you and my questions.  I’ve admired you from afar for a long time.  How old are you now?

Al Kelly:

55, Bill … a young 55!

William O’Shaughnessy:

But you’re not finished yet, are you?

Al Kelly:

No, I feel … I’ve got a 10-year old.  No, I’m not finished.  I honestly think there will be at least two more chapters to my life.  Probably three … I want to continue to have a very active corporate career over the next number of years, again in one job or in a portfolio of jobs.  I’ve had a dream that, in my first stage of retirement, I’d go teach at the college or graduate school level and that remains a dream I would like to fulfill.

William O’Shaughnessy:

What would you teach?

Al Kelly:

I would probably teach a combination of management, leadership classes as well as product marketing classes … not computer science classes!  And the third chapter would be to travel, enjoying grandchildren, continuing to catch up with friends and those kinds of things. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Let me beg another moment, Alfred Francis Kelly, Jr., what makes a good manager?  Who better to ask?

Al Kelly:

Bill, I feel there’s a huge difference being a good manager and a good leader.  I think a good manager is somebody who makes the trains run on time and fixes problems and has good follow-up and runs good meetings.  I think a leader ideally does those things … but a leader sets a vision.  A leader makes sure their ego is in check and their most important job in the world is to get great people around them.  A leader is somebody who is incredibly empathetic to their people and doesn’t look at their people like an asset like a building or technology, but realizes their people are human beings and treats them as such.  For me, the ultimate test of somebody being a good leader is if someone will follow them to the ends of the earth and work for them and tell other people you should work for this person.  Those are kind of the litmus tests of what I think are great leaders and many of them are good managers.  Some great leaders may not be as good on making the trains run on time, but they’re smart enough to put people in place who do know how to make the trains run on time. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

He ran the Super Bowl, among many other things.  His name is Alfred F. Kelly, Jr.  He’s a child of Westchester, a son of our county and we’re so proud of him.  Are you going to write a book about all the pressures and all the people and all the pleadings and importunings visited on you for tickets to that damn Super Bowl?  And the parking passes, even worse!

Al Kelly:

I don’t think so.  I probably could write a somewhat interesting book!

William O’Shaughnessy:

Did a lot of people pressure you?

Al Kelly:

It wasn’t too bad.  I was amazed at the amount of … I wouldn’t call it pressure … but interesting was the amount of people who wanted to work on this effort.  I probably got a thousand resumes or inquiries and at its height I had 31 full-time people.   So, I don’t know whether that’s a sign of when I started … we were still – not that it’s great now – still coming out of the hangover period of the late 2008 – 2009 meltdown.  But I also think the N.F.L.’s got an incredible brand.  The Super Bowl is incredible.  This was a Super Bowl of many firsts and to that end people were very interested.  I got ticket requests like crazy, but we were able to manage through it. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Would you like Goodell’s job?

Al Kelly:

Roger has done a phenomenal job and has many, many great years ahead of him and I root for him to do well for decades to come.  I’ll go do something else and let him do his job! 

William O’Shaughnessy:

One final, crazy question … you and Peggy courted at the Beechmont, the local saloon.  Do you ever go back?

Al Kelly:

We haven’t been back in a while, I have to confess.  It’s probably been four or five years since we’ve been there.  Bill, when we first got married we lived in Mount Vernon and then we lived in two different homes in New Rochelle and when we lived in New Rochelle we would go there.  But now we’ve been up in the Harrison-Rye section of the county for almost seven years now.  So we don’t necessarily come down.  We come down a lot for Iona College basketball games but I haven’t been to the Beechmont or a lot of the New Rochelle hangouts I spent a lot of days and nights at in my Iona College years.

William O’Shaughnessy:

You honor us with your presence.  I promised your office … I’m running late, and they’re waiting for you in Manhattan!

Al Kelly:

Bill, thank you.  It’s been a pleasure to be with you.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. is his name … it will be interesting to see what’s next for this guy.

 

# # # 

William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America.  He operates two of the last independent stations in the New York area: WVOX and WVIP.

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files” was released in January, 2011.  He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, an anthology which will include this interview with Alfred F. Kelly, Jr.

 

 

DSC_0012[1]

Contact:

William O’Shaughnessy
914-980-7003
wfo@wvox.com

Cindy Gallagher
Whitney Media
914-235-3279
cindy@wvox.com