Palate Pleasers!

A “Foodie” recently asked me for a list of my favorite foods.

I came up with 95 “Favorites” on offer at restaurants in Westchester, Connecticut, New York City, Upstate, Italy and the Bahamas.

(I also added 17 I’m not exactly crazy about).




  1. Egg salad
  1. Tomato soup at Posto 22, New Rochelle
  1. Mashed potatoes
  1. Brussel sprouts
  1. Chicken salad with mayo and celery
  1. Deviled eggs
  1. Asparagus
  1. Sausage
  1. Angel hair pasta with tomato & basil at Le Sirene, Larchmont
  1. Steak at Tommy Moretti’s, Elmira
  1. Joe Migliucci’s pizza at Mario’s, Arthur Avenue
  1. Stir-fried pasta by Jonelle at Lyford Cay
  1. Truffles
  1. New England Clam Chowder at The Village, Litchfield
  1. Salmon with skin always removed
  1. Swordfish
  1. Halibut
  1. Homemade bread from Sam Tilley, Mockingbird or Jimmy Cosgriff, Torrington C.C.
  1. Shallots
  1. Chicken potpie
  1. Shepherd’s pie
  1. Vegetable tempura
  1. Meatballs at the Venetian, Torrington by Fiorita DiLullo
  1. Raw anise-fennel
  1. Good olive oil
  1. Sea salt
  1. Chickpeas
  1. Arnold Palmers
  1. Reasonable red wine: Kaou (Pasa Robles)
  1. Reasonable white wine: Louis Latour Grand Ardeche
  1. Buffalo wings at Bernie Murray’s, Elmira
  1. Lobster
  1. Lobster spaghetti at Milos
  1. Cornish game hen at Vice Versa
  1. Avocado and crabmeat, West Street Grill, Litchfield
  1. Heinz ketchup
  1. Homemade mueslix
  1. Berkshire pork chops
  1. Vidalia onions
  1. Dove ice cream bars
  1. Margueritas by Guadalupe, Senor Pancho, Thomaston
  1. Highams peppermint ice cream
  1. Oysters
  1. Stone crabs with mustard sauce
  1. Pasta Fagioli at Buon Amici, White Plains
  1. Crisp bacon
  1. Butter
  1. Fresh mixed berries
  1. Lemon or raspberry sorbet
  1. Soy sauce
  1. Hellman’s mayonnaise
  1. Crème Brulee
  1. Cold poached salmon from the Pantry, Washington Depot

  2. Hershey’s chocolate

  3. Filet mignon tableside, Fife & Drum with Elissa Potts

  4. Pignoli nuts
  1. Gaston Lenotre’s Concorde cake, Lyford Cay
  1. Lump crabmeat, “21”
  1. Smoked salmon on pumpernickel, The Woodland, Lakeville, CT
  1. Black and White milkshakes, Shake Shack or Carvel
  1. Margueritas by Ivy, The Venetian
  1. Mignonette sauce with oysters
  1. Vin Santo dessert wine
  1. Onion rings
  1. Spring rolls
  1. Macadamia nuts
  1. Linguini & clam sauce (garlic in & out quickly), Mario’s, Arthur Avenue
  1. Pasta primavera, Le Cirque style
  1. Mushrooms
  1. Squid ink pasta, Da Ivo, Venice
  1. Dill pickles
  1. Croissants, The Bakeshop, Litchfield
  1. Roast beef, the Pioneer Saloon, Ketchum, ID
  1. Nerf football-size Idaho baked potatoes, “The Pio,” Ketchum
  1. Krispy Kreme donuts
  1. Veal Chop, Parkside, Corona with Tony Federici
  1. Crudités, The Four Seasons or Harry Cipriani
  2. Butternut donuts, Dunkin Donuts
  1. Cronuts, Enrico’s, Hartsdale
  1. Kirsch aperitif
  1. Pasta with prosciutto & Sant’Erasmo peas, Cipriani, Venice
  1. Thai sweet chili sauce
  1. Michael DiLullo’s “6 1/2-minute” salad, The Venetian, Torrington
  1. House salad, Lemongrass, Burlington, CT
  1. Homemade granola, Hidden Valley Eatery, Washington, CT
  1. Frutti di Mare, Monaco Hotel, Venice
  1. Liquid yogurt (Kefir)
  1. Rice pudding
  1. Grand Marnier souffles, La Grenouille, NYC
  1. Baked Tagliolini at Harry Cipriani
  1. Wonton soup, Thai in Love, Thomaston
  1. Caviar
  1. Enough lemon wedges with broiled fish
  1. Zeppoles at Buon Amici, White Plains
  1. Garlic Pizza, Mangialardo’s, South Waverly, PA


On the Other Hand

I Try To Avoid:


  1. Pasta overwhelmed with too much damn garlic
  1. Broccoli Rabe
  1. Catfish soup
  1. Hanger steak
  1. Skate
  1. Shrimp that hasn’t been “rinsed” in salt and cold water
  1. Frisee
  1. Berry sauce on cheesecake
  1. Truffle oil
  1. GARLIC!
  1. Fluke
  1. Red, green or yellow hot peppers
  1. Cucumbers
  1. Mellon
  1. String beans
  1. Tilapia

  2. Cavatelli and gnocchi


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, the national charitable organization.  He is a longtime director and member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation. He has operated WVOX and WVIP, two of the last independent stations in the New York area, for 56 years as president and editorial director.


He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … and “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files,” released in January, 2011. He has also written “Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man,” a tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo, published in 2017.  He is currently working on his fifth book RADIOactive for Fordham University Press, another anthology with interviews, commentaries, speeches and tributes which will published in September 2019.




WVOX & WVIP Endorse Gov. Andrew Mark Cuomo for Governor of New York


Governor Cuomo for Governor

A Whitney Global Media Editorial of the Air


by William O’Shaughnessy, President

November 1, 2018


He is Mario Cuomo’s son. 

And in his best moments, he resembles his magnificent and graceful father.

That being said … no one knows the minutiae of governance or the complicated levers of government like Andrew Cuomo.  Not even his father of sainted memory.

Sure, Andrew knows how to play the powerbrokers and the union warlords.  He knows how to fist bump and chest pump and back-slap better than anyone.

But for those who think he doesn’t yet possess the rhetorical skills of his father or Joe Biden, for that matter … they should have heard Andrew speak passionately and movingly at the Central Synagogue in Manhattan earlier this week. (attached)

Indeed, there was soaring eloquence in the air despite the solemn occasion.  We were almost tempted to observe:  there was Mario in the air at the podium.

So much for those who dismiss the Governor as a mere “mechanic.”

His mother, the estimable and greatly respected – and I would say quite universally beloved – Matilda Raffa Cuomo – calls Andrew “The Energizer Governor.”  And we can’t do better than that. 

In his first two terms, Andrew has rung up an impressive list of solid accomplishments: gun control, the strongest in the nation … minimum wage … gay marriage … property tax caps … long-needed improvements to bridges and airports.  He’s also doing his level best on the subways, no easy task with Mayor DeBlasio’s ambition in the way.  And the Governor deserves great credit for pushing to eliminate all the wasteful overlap in services among the thousands of redundant local jurisdictions. 

He’s also made every move humanly possible to improve the diminishing fortunes of upstate New York … everything short of murdering the damn weathermen who prescribe those brutal, freezing, snow-covered winters west of Albany.  If there was a way to fix the drodsome weather … you can be sure Andrew would find it.

He’s not at all perfect.  Although he has carried forth his father and Hugh Leo Carey’s revulsion and disdain for the Death Penalty … we’re not crazy about where he is on the other, fundamental and essential Right to Life issues: i.e. the awful Abortion question. But one can only hope that he shares his father’s personal revulsion for the killing of innocents, despite his reluctance to impose his religious beliefs on others.

A great deal of attention has been paid by our colleagues in the public press to a few who may have disappointed the governor and let him down.

But he’s also had some very intelligent and able counsellors on his quest for good and effective government: the classy William Mulrow … Michael DelGiudice … Steven Cohen … Joe Spinelli … John Marino … Rick Cotton … Alphonso David … and the late Andrew Zambelli.

We’ve been quoted in national journals that “It’s not easy being Mario Cuomo’s son.”  It’s not at all easy when a prominent newspaper – the Boston Globe – calls your Father “the great philosopher statesman of the American nation.”  Nor is it easy when a family friend Tony Bennett, the last of the great romantic crooners, tells his audiences, “I’ve sung for five presidents of the United States … Mario Cuomo is the greatest man I ever met.” I mean that’s heavy, very heavy stuff to lay on a young man who is in the “family business.” 

And then you have Joe Biden who is a politician the way the men of our father’s time imagined them to be: “I’ve been in politics since I was 19.  But the minute I saw Mario Cuomo … I knew he was better than I was.” 

So he is a son and heir of Mario Cuomo and in his best moments Andrew resembles his father of sainted memory.

Listeners to these radio stations know of our enthusiasm and admiration for President Trump. While none can deny Andrew’s use of the bully pulpit which attends the governor of New York … one can only hope Andrew will continue to devote his remarkable creativity and energy and his considerable talents to the $168-Billion enterprise over which he now presides and focus on the welfare of the 20-million souls in his daily care and keeping.

We cringe when we see him marching in patriotic parades in Chappaqua with Bill and Hillary Clinton.  And it doesn’t exactly win points when the Governor seems always to be accompanied by so many outriders and security people at every event.  And the glib, booster-like slogans plastered on the podium often distract from the message and the worthwhile things he is trying to achieve.

And it’s perhaps a small thing … but to his great credit Andrew ordered that his own name not greet motorists on the many highways and byways leading into the Empire State. Every other governor before him couldn’t resist those “Welcome to New York State (fill in the name), Governor.”

We know little of his Republican opponent Marc Molinaro who certainly didn’t hit it out of the ballpark when he had the opportunity to debate the Governor provided by our friends Marcia Kramer and Rich Lamb of WCBS-TV. 

Indeed Stephanie Miner, the former mayor of Syracuse who, for a time, also headed the State Democratic Party, has been quite the most impressive among those others who aspire to lead our state.

Andrew is who he is. Everybody knows he’s dynamic and driven. But our recent interview with the governor showed him to also be a brilliant, introspective and altogether thoughtful fellow … qualities he often seems reluctant to reveal.

To get a grip on what Andrew is really about … read the piece posted on Thursday by the Times gifted political writer Shane Goldmacher, himself a great student of the Cuomos – pere et fils

He may not have Nelson Rockefeller’s charisma and ease with retail politicking … or his father’s graceful brilliance and beautiful soul … but no one has ever worked harder as governor.  No one.  Period.  No one.

In our far-ranging, recent interview, we asked the governor if he wanted to be loved … or respected.  With the facile brain inherited from his father, he quickly replied, “I want to be loved by those I respect

In case you haven’t figured it out … our stations have tremendous respect for Governor Andrew Mark Cuomo.

And, God forgive me … I’m afraid we do love him as well.

Thus our Whitney Global Media radio stations WVOX and WVIP enthusiastically and with great confidence – and affection – endorse the Democratic candidate: Governor Andrew Cuomo for governor of New York.

He’s a damn hard worker.

And he’s Mario Cuomo’s son.

This is William O’Shaughnessy.




Remarks of Governor

Andrew M. Cuomo


Central Synagogue Interfaith Service

New York City

October 30, 2018


We gather tonight on a somber moment, because this is a dark and frightening time in our nation. Our better angels are being overpowered. The character of America is being perverted. And the power of hate is overtaking the power of love. 

We mourn and embrace the families of the 11 victims in Pittsburgh and grieve with them. We mourn and grieve for the African American community in Kentucky. We suffer with those who endured the anxiety and threats of mail bombs last week. 

But we would not be here tonight if these were isolated incidents. They are not. There is a frightening pattern developing on many levels of American society. Anti-Semitic incidents have increased 57 percent nationwide. Neo-Nazi groups have increased 22 percent in this country. Nativists and white supremacy groups are on the rise. At the demonstration in Charlottesville in August, 2017, members of the Ku Klux Klan felt so empowered they didn’t even need to wear hoods to hide their faces. The societal fabric of America is stressed and frayed. We gather to pray and to marshal the voices of support and love as an antidote to the forces of division and hate. 

Elie Wiesel said, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” As Governor, I pray with you this evening. But as Governor, I also state in the strongest terms that we are a nation of laws and we are a state of laws, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination or hate in the State of New York. (applause)

Hate is not protected by our law, not in speech and not in action. Quite the opposite. And our State has the most aggressive hate crimes laws in the country.  And I announced today that we are doubling both our security efforts and our prevention efforts. You have my word as governor that we will stamp out the evil of discrimination wherever it rears its ugly head.  The Jewish community is an important member of the Family of New York and we will protect our family–all together, all united. (applause)

But I am afraid that enforcing the law, while an essential, important step is not the only step. Being prepared to fight the fire is necessary, but we must work to prevent the fires from starting in the first place. 

I feel as if we are standing in a field of dry grass with smoldering embers surrounding us.  And a strong wind is shifting directions. We must stamp out the embers before they become flames and we must reduce the winds of hate that threaten the fields of peace.

There are those who now will wrap themselves in the flag of America and then go out and do violence in the name of America. But they could not be more wrong or more misguided. They do not begin to understand the character of America, and they disgrace the very flag they carry. Our Founding Fathers would be repulsed by these ignorant acts of violence.

In school, one of the first lessons we learn about America is when we are asked to raise our hands to the Pledge of Allegiance. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Indivisible! With liberty and justice for all. Whatever your religion, whatever your race, whatever your creed, we are indivisible!

Our Founding Fathers anticipated there would be differences because we were born as a collection from across the globe. But we would have, as Jefferson said, “a decent respect” for the opinions of others. One of our Founders’ first acts was to pass a law to make the Motto on the Seal of the United States, “E Pluribus Unum”—out of many, one. It set the tone of unity and commonality. The very same Founders didn’t fear immigration, they embraced it! It was the British government’s bid to block migration to the colonies, that was among one of the reasons for the Revolution and the Declaration of Independence.

The tremendous right to practice your religion in freedom was a powerful magnet drawing many to America. The Pilgrims were separatists from the Church of England.  The Huguenots settled the Hudson Valley. French Protestants were fleeing persecution in Roman Catholic France.  English Catholics under George Calvert colonized Maryland … Quakers in Pennsylvania …  Jewish people in Rhode Island, all seeking the religious freedom established by Roger Williams.

One year into his presidency, George Washington visited a synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island as the First Amendment was being debated. To his Jewish hosts, Washington wrote a remarkable letter.  He reasserted that the Government of the United States “gives no sanction to bigotry, no assistance to persecution, and requires only that the people who live under the protection of the government conduct themselves as good citizens.”

Washington quoted the Bible to remind them that, in effect, they had reached their Promised Land: ‘May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”  George Washington.

There was no period that tested our unity more than the Civil War. And as the war closed, President Abraham Lincoln pointed the nation to the future in his Second Inaugural Address, saying: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds — to achieve and cherish a just, and lasting peace.” (applause)

Lincoln’s invoking God is relevant and instructive. We are one nation under God. It is not just our government that instructs peace and tolerance, but our religious heritage as well.

We are gathered in a house of worship today. Christianity teaches us tolerance. Matthew 25 instructs us Catholics to do for the least of our brothers.  Judaism speaks to the concept of Tikkun Olam … to reach out and heal the breach … and the concept of Tzedakah … charity, but, more broadly, the concept of social justice.

Buddhism, Islam, virtually every religion speaks of tolerance, acceptance, and condemns violence.

The victims in Pittsburgh were engaged in a sacred Jewish naming ceremony of a newborn — a bris — celebrating the joy of a new life, only to perish in the face of hate.  

We will not let them die in vain. We must once again, in Lincoln’s words, “bind up the nation’s wounds.”

We must rise above our traditional political divisions. We must refrain from fanning the embers of hate before the flames are out of control. Our American values override our political, partisan differences. Intolerant voices of division must be condemned by all, and not episodically, but consistently. (applause) Not only for public consumption, but genuinely, with personal commitment. Political debate must honor Jefferson’s mandate of civil discourse. Our political leaders must heed this wisdom today.

At this time of chaos, confusion, ignorance and fear … this nation needs a light to follow. And Let that light be the torch that is held by the great lady in our harbor.

Let New York State once again serve this nation as an example to follow. That is the legacy of this great State … throughout history, a beacon of progressive values. We are home to 19 million people from every nation on the globe.  New York State is the laboratory of the American experiment in democracy. We are not threatened by diversity, we celebrate diversity. Generations of immigrants stepped off ships and planes onto our shores. This State has thrived because we have no tolerance for discrimination. Not in our laws, and not in our spirit! (applause)

We are a people of differences, but we have forged community through chords of commonality. This state exemplifies the best of the American spirit.

The Rabbi asks us what we can do. Let us commit ourselves this evening to a constructive course of action. Let New Yorkers exemplify what it means to be a true American patriot.

Let New York show this nation what the flag actually means.

Let us lead forward in the way of darkness. Let us lead as a government, as a community and let us lead as individual citizens. Let us lead this nation at this time of confusion by the power of our example.

There is no place for hate in our State.  And New York lives by the credo: that the most powerful four-letter word is still love.  

John Pritchard Eulogy – Joe Spinelli

This perfect eulogy was given by my friend of many years Joe Spinelli who was a great friend of Mario Cuomo.  Spinelli spoke movingly and passionately about his fellow lawman John Pritchard on October 12, 2018.

Joseph Anthony Spinelli was part of a legendary three-man FBI squad with Pritchard and Louis Freeh (Spinelli became New York State’s Inspector General under Mario Cuomo, Louis Freeh became a Federal Judge and Director of the FBI).  John Pritchard was not only a Special Agent in the Bureau, he also served as Inspector General of the MTA and Police Commissioner in Mount Vernon, NY during an illustrious career in law enforcement. 

My name is Joe Spinelli, and I’ve known John for over 40 years and had the privilege to be John’s partner in the FBI for almost 7 years.

Normally when I address a group in any forum I like to speak extemporaneously, but not today. I wrote my thoughts down today, because I did not want to omit anything.

When Anne requested I speak today I was honored.  And yet I knew this would be difficult, because grief affects us all and does not discriminate.

I have never considered John to be just a friend. To do so would be an insult to both of us. John will always be my brother, and I loved and respected him as my brother. He was a gentle man and a true gentleman. He earned every accolade bestowed on him, and he gave all he had to be the best at what he did. And he achieved success despite the bias and prejudices he often faced as an African-American.  He did so by the simple eloquence of his example.

John visited me a few months ago in New York and we had dinner. He told me he wanted to say goodbye in person and we told each other how much we loved each other, and I’m thankful I got the chance to tell him how blessed I was to have him in my life.

John told me to please speak at his Memorial Service, but was quick to admonish me to only speak about stories and events in which the Statute of Limitations has expired. Unfortunately, after over 40 years together, I could only come up with three such stories that met that criteria.

In 1976, John was assigned as a new Agent to our Criminal Squad that dealt with fugitives and organized crime. The first time John and I worked together, I had to serve a subpoena on an organized crime member in the meat packing district of New York City. Now this should have been a routine deal. We located the organized crime figure who was not happy to see us, and the next thing that happened- we found ourselves surrounded by six individuals all holding meat hooks! I looked at John and he smiled and said, “I’m not going anywhere.” After I removed the barrel of my B57 from the bad guy’s mouth, and all the meat hooks hit the floor … we successfully served our subpoena. From that day forward, John and I were partners.

In 1979, while riding in a Bureau car in New York City, over the radio came a call “91 new” which meant a bank robbery was in progress. We were two blocks away from the bank and responded. When we arrived at the bank, three African American men came running out of the bank. John and I immediately began pursuing them on foot. Before we got half a block, three white males came out of the bank and opened fire on us. They were the actual bank robbers. And as we took cover John looked at me and with that vintage Pritchard grin said, “You have to stop always blaming the black guys.” We laughed out loud and then were fortunate to apprehend all three of the bank robbers. 

Finally, while I was N.Y. State Inspector General I began the Adopt-a-School Anti-Drug Program in Bushwick, Brooklyn. I would invite various individuals to present on Career Day to the entire school at assembly. John came and totally mesmerized these youngsters. While addressing them he grabbed my right hand and placed it next to his and asked them: “What is the difference between his hand and mine?” Immediately in unison, the students responded your hand is black and his is white. John shook his head no and said: “There is no difference.  You see … Joe and I are brothers.” I will never forget that moment and the reaction and message sent to those youngsters. I also will never forget how proud I was when John asked me to be Joe’s godfather.

Thomas Paine once wrote: “Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and Angels know of us. The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”

When I remember John, and I will for the rest of my life, I will remember his leadership, integrity, valor and impeccable character. He always possessed the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make difficult decisions, and the empathy and compassion to be sensitive to all people. He never feared to choose right over wrong and truth over popularity. He taught me that there is never a wrong time to do what is right. And what you say and do in life defines who you are.  And who you are … you are forever.

Each of us loved John because of this. So tonight when your knees hit the floor … please ask God to love him.

A wise man once wrote that the greatest of all journeys are those journeys that take you home. John is home now, at peace and waiting to one day be reunited with his beloved Anne and his children.

Rest in peace my Brother.

                                      October 12, 2018

William O’Shaughnessy Interview with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

A far-ranging interview with Governor Andrew Cuomo … like you’ve never heard him.  He almost sounds like Mario on this one.

Earlier today he spoke with William O’Shaughnessy, Editorial Director of Whitney Global Media’s WVOX, an old family friend of the Cuomo Family. 

His stunningly candid, exclusive interview with Governor Cuomo follows. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

This is Bill O’Shaughnessy with a very special interview.  We switch to his Office in Manhattan for the Governor of New York … Andrew Mark Cuomo.  Governor Cuomo, I’ve known you for a long time.  Your family has meant a lot to me and mine.  Will you trust me to conduct myself properly?

Governor Cuomo:

I always trust you … to conduct yourself properly, no!  But I do have a deep trust for you. And I love how you say Gover-NORE.  And my Father loved how you said Gover-NORE.  And my Father loved you, Bill.  He had tremendous respect and tremendous affection for you, always.  And it was well deserved.  As do I.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Governor Cuomo, how is your Mother, Matilda Raffa Cuomo doing?

Governor Cuomo:

She is indefatigable.  She is just the Energizer Bunny.  She’s doing very well.  She’s staying in touch with all the grandchildren.  She’s calling and she’s remembering birthdays. She’s also picked up, Bill, on the Mentoring that meant so much to her.  She’s doing that on a State-wide basis.  As you know, she was a public-school teacher and she never really stopped teaching.  When we lost my Father and she had that void in her life that she needed to fill, I think, sub-consciously, she re-engaged in Mentoring with an energy that was just unbelievable. I think it was just partially her therapy to deal with the loss. 

Because, as you know, her whole life was my Father.  They were together all the time.  They did everything together.  It’s such a big hole in her life.  You go into the apartment and it’s like a shrine to my Father.  She’s doing the Mentoring.  She’s staying in touch with the grandchildren.  She gives me her commentary on the news accounts on a daily basis.  She’s sharp as a tack. She’s all “sugar,” my Mother. She’s all sweetness, she always has been.  She’s all genuineness, even being exposed to the rough edges of politics for all those years.  She never lost her fundamental sweetness and softness.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Governor Cuomo, your Mother told me something I’d never heard about you. First of all, she calls you the Energizer Governor!  You called her the Energizer Mother!  But she said sometimes you pull yourself out of the frantic, busy, political life and go over and just sit on her terrace. She says you like her potato omelet!    What’s so great about them?

Governor Cuomo:

She makes a potato omelet like no other potato omelet!  (laughter)  It is delicious.  I tell you … when my Father was alive, I went over all the time because he wasn’t well, toward the end.  So I just wanted to spend as much time with him as I could.  I just loved to talk to him as we both did, whether agree with him or disagree with him.  It was just a delightful conversation and always an exciting conversation.  Since my Father has been gone I go over more just to spend time with my Mother. 

There’s a sadness for me when I go there because there is so much of my Father in that apartment.  So many memories.  But she just loves quality time and she loves to cook.  As you know, she always has … in that Italian tradition where the act of loving is eating, you’re around a table.  She does make a phenomenal potato omelet and it is my favorite.  But it’s just an excuse to spend time with her and catch up and to get her to slow down because she’s out every night! She’s doing events and she’s recruiting for her Mentoring program.  I worry about her because she’s not as young as she used to be. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

How old is Matilda Raffa Cuomo?

Governor Cuomo:

I cannot tell you. She is 39 years old.  That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!

William O’Shaughnessy:

Governor, there’s so much to cover.  We appreciate the few moments while we’re in your care and keeping – or rather you’re in ours!  These are not alone challenging times, these are awful, cruel, mean times.  First of all, you won the Primary by a hell of a lot more than people thought you were going to do.  How did the Primary set with you?  It was pretty nasty.

Governor Cuomo:

Well, first of all, these are ugly, ugly nasty times.  People are anxious. They are fearful.  It can bring out the worst of human nature and I’m afraid it has.  I’m afraid the actions of the Federal government actually have made it worse.  I think the President incites people.  I think the President plays on people’s fears and uses it politically.  I think that’s very unfortunate.  The Primary, and when I talk to you, Bill, I think of my Father and the conversations that you guys had, but during my Father’s time there was always an activist-left Agenda for the Democratic Party.

There used to be a group called the NDC – New Democratic Coalition.  They used to harass my Father because he wasn’t liberal enough, believe it or not.  Most people would say he was a great liberal.  Many people would say he was too liberal.  But there was a Left to my Father who complained that he was not left enough.  He would say they were “Professional Liberals” or Professional Political People.  Meaning that they have a valid point of view … but it’s a professional point of view as opposed to a populist point of view. 

I think that’s actually exasperated now – and if I could just take another second on it …  you have a group of political people who are engaged on a daily basis for one reason or another.  They’re running an organization or they are a political reporter or blogger.  And the communication and intensity among them is much higher.  There’s Twitter … there’s Instagram … and the energy they generate amongst themselves is much higher than it has been in the past and some of them then believe that is Reality.  It’s not reality.  That’s their own political reality. 

Reality is what people live day to day who aren’t reading the blogs because they have jobs and they are trying to make ends meet.  And when it came to the Primary, this State is the most progressive state in the United States of America!  Not because a blogger opines.  But because people know it.  People know that we passed ‘Marriage Equality.”  It was a very big deal.  They know that I passed the “Gun Safety Law” … they lived it.  They heard it.  They saw the controversy.  They know that I raised the Minimum Wage to the highest in the country because 2.3 million people got a raise.  That’s how they know. They see it in their paychecks.  They know that we have the best free college tuition for middle class families in the country because they are looking at it for their child.  So I understand the academic attack … but you’re not going to tell the people in this State that I’m not a progressive.  They know differently.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Governor, I don’t want to label you, sir.  But are you a centrist?  Or a progressive … who the hell are you? 

Governor Cuomo:

I am a pragmatic progressive.  Whose definition was that, Bill?

William O’Shaughnessy:

That was your Father, of sainted memory. 

Governor Cuomo:

Think about that for a second.  Pragmatic progressive.  Now this is Mario Cuomo, the greatest liberal … the greatest intellectual politician.  Pragmatic Progressive.  I hated the term, by the way.  No one understands what that means.  And he would say – as only he could say:  If they’re not smart enough to know what it means … I don’t care!   Pragmatic Progressive.  It almost sounded like an oxymoron.  But his point was … you can’t be a progressive if you are not Pragmatic.  There is no academic progressive politics.  Progressive politics happens in actuality.  There is no theoretical Progressive politics. 

Either you made my life better or you didn’t.  Either I have more bread on my table or I don’t.  I don’t want to hear your theory and your intellectual exercise and your academic political analysis.  I want progress in my life because I need it because I’m poor.  I’m a working family … I’m disabled.  Because I’m a victim of discrimination.  So I need progress.  So his point was Progressive needs a modifier.  And the modifier is the words Pragmatic.  Not because it is an oxymoron or inconsistent.  But it is a modifier.  It is the practical Progress.  It is the actuality and the concrete accomplishment of the progressive theory.  That was his point. 

And when you are an executive, you realize very quickly – as opposed to a legislative branch or an academic – to make actual change.  That is much harder. That involves compromise.  It involves nuance.  It involves fashioning a specific solution to a problem.  It is not as easy as just opining or pontificating about absolute idealism.  The pragmatic takes you to a different place.  We now have to get it done.  That means I have to get a piece of legislation passed.  That means I have to talk to Republicans.  That means I have to talk to conservative Democrats.  That means we’re going to have to shift a little bit from the ideal because we live in the real … and that is the pragmatic part. 

He would voice this in the on-going debate he had at that time with the people at the time who were to his left and he would say Look … it’s very easy to be a purist ideologically if you don’t have to get anything done, right?  If all it is about writing a paper on it or giving a speech on it, then it’s easy to advocate for the perfect.  But if you have to get something done as a executive or because you believe people actually need help, and because you actually want to improve the situation, that then introduces the element of pragmatism.  So he was a Pragmatic Progressive.  And that’s what I would call myself.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Governor, first of all, the clock is ticking.  The Democrats, your party, they’ve got to put somebody against President Trump.  I risk our friendship of many, many years.  Is it possible to like Donald Trump – President Trump – and Governor Cuomo?

Governor Cuomo:

Anything is possible!  Can you like both theories … both philosophies?  No.  My philosophy, my theory of government is diametrically opposed.

William O’Shaughnessy:

How so?

Governor Cuomo:

This President delights in division.  He thrives in division.  It’s not just that he thrives in competition … or he thrives in confrontation.  He thrives in division.  He looks to energize people through anger, I believe.  I try to do the opposite.  I try to appeal to people’s better angels.  Now, it’s much easier to appeal to fear as opposed to love. 

Hate is, in many ways, easier to generate than love is to generate. And when people are anxious to begin with, as they are now – they are economically anxious, etc. – it’s easier to give them a target for that anxiety and to vent for that anxiety. And to say it’s them over there.  They are the problem.  The different people are the problem.  You know the different people … people who pray to a different God.  The people with a different sexual orientation.  The people with different skin color.   The people who speak a different language.  There’s the target!  And I believe that’s the course that the President follows. 

Now, Governor of New York, 19 million people from all over the globe, you start to divide us … that unleashes a cancer in the body politic because what you feel everyday in New York is … we are all about differences.  You start to demonize differences … that is incendiary and that is spontaneous combustion where you would make the situation intolerable.  Now is it harder to motivate people by the positive?  Yes.  Is it harder to explain to people that creating a situation where we all do well enures to your personal benefit ultimately. That the concept of community is not just self-lessness but also selfishness.  That you can benefit when others benefit?  Yes. 

That’s a much harder case to make.  Especially when people are angry. 

But that is the case that I preach.  And the President does the opposite.  We had a situation over this past weekend, Bill, for all your listeners who haven’t been able to detect … You are a Republican the last time I checked!  The Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City invites in a group called the Proud Boys … who are the Proud Boys?  They are a hate group.  They are white nationalists.  They are White Supremacists. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

They call themselves Western Chauvinists!

Governor Cuomo:

Western Chauvinists!  What a label!  They have a long history of hateful speech.  They advocate violence.  Metropolitan Republican Club brings them in.  They offer no real explanation.  They said Free Speech … we believe in Free Speech.  So I guess the Republican Party will invite the Ku Klux Klan next week in their continuing series of “Free Speech” scenarios. It’s hateful.  It’s demeaning to who we are in New York.  It’s demeaning to a productive political dialogue.  They invited them.  There was then vandalism and should be prosecuted.  And then there was violence afterwards.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Didn’t you have a message as a “Queens guy” for this group?

Governor Cuomo:

Well, I said that they are a bunch of thugs! 

William O’Shaughnessy:

That’s pretty clear …

Governor Cuomo:

That was as far as I will allow my Queens roots to take me because I try to maintain basic protocol now as Governor of the State of New York.  But these are just thugs.  I also called them that which was also reminiscent of my Queens roots.  But that’s who they are.  It’s incendiary and it is disgusting.  And I believe it was tactical …  I believe to fire up the Republican base for the mid-term elections in November which are very, very important for the Republican Party.  They use the flames of bigotry and racism and sexism to fire up their base.  I believe that’s what they’re doing.  I believe the Metropolitan Republican Club mirrored what President Trump was saying nationally about the importance of the mid-terms and getting out the vote. And it’s a shame because I remember the Republican Party. Nelson Rockefeller, Senator Javits, Warren Anderson … you could have principled political differences.  But the Republican Party was a party of honor and values.  And what we’re seeing now, Bill, this is a different Republican Party.  This is the Republican Party of a brand of extremist conservatives that we haven’t seen before.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Governor, you said that you hold the president responsible.  Do you really mean that?

Governor Cuomo:

I believe the national Republican strategy is to fire up the base.  And the President was saying that the Democrats are bad people and that they’re a mob and they create chaos.  The President was going on this weekend about his take on the Civil War and Robert E. Lee.  The President said after Charlottesville when you had White Supremacists rallying and protestors on the other side and Klu Klux Klan rallying … he said there are good people on both sides.  That, Bill, was – to me – the single most damning statement he’s made.  Because there are no good White Supremacists!  And you should never suggest that to the American people. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Governor … first of all.  I am almost at a loss for words as I listen to you today.  You are so profound dealing with the great issues. Today I’m listening … and you really are your Father’s Son.  I’ve got to ask, as you prepare to move forward … people are starting to talk about you … I’ll lay it right on the table … for president of the United States.  You’re starting to get into the national dialogue on this thing.  Are you interested?  Would you do it?

Governor Cuomo:

I’m interested in one thing which is running for governor and being the best governor that I can be.  The National Agenda is in many ways the New York Agenda in a way it’s never been before, Bill.   With their now takeover of the Supreme Court and with their legislative agenda, you’re talking about a woman’s right to choose being overturned with Roe v. Wade … you’re talking about gun safety laws  … you’re talking about basic healthcare for people … you’re talking about Criminal Justice Policy … you’re talking about Public Education.  Those are the core issues for New York State. 

You know in the old days, the Federal Government would do defense policy and we’d have a great debate about Defense Policy.  But the State ran state issues.  Today, many of the state issues are going to be decided by Washington and what they do.  So the confluence of the two agendas has never been stronger.

But I’m running for Governor.  I love what I’m doing.  I believe I’m making a difference. And as long as I’m making a positive difference, that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Governor, I hear them knocking on the door so I’ll be very brief and rap this up.  You’ve given us some beautiful and wonderful stuff.  The book on Andrew Cuomo … on Governor Andrew Cuomo … is that he’s respected.  Even your critics “respect.” He’s got “dynamism.”  Nobody knows the levers of government like Governor Cuomo.  He’s the Doer.  He’s the Mechanic.  You are also the son of a man they called “the great philosopher-statesman of the American nation.”  The Boston Globe said that.  I hear that today.  I hear it in your voice.  I hear it in your thoughtful comments.  Why the hell don’t you talk more like this more often?

Governor Cuomo:

You know, Bill … it was a different time when my Father governed.  They don’t give you more than 30 seconds today.  The intelligence … the substance of government, the theory of government, the philosophy of government.  There’s very little appetite for that now.  I don’t want to get myself into too much trouble.  But we had great reporters back then where you could have a two-hour conversation on an issue before they would write a story and they would think about it and research it. 

We’re in an age of blogs and tweets and frankly reporters who don’t have the background or the time to develop a really substantive piece.  My Father was a brilliant communicator.  He was a brilliant intellectual.  But he also had that pragmatic side.  Part of it, I think, is a reaction to what they said about my Father … because they said that about my Father.  But also remember they said, unfairly – but so much of this business is unfair – but he didn’t accomplish enough, right?  The naysayers – the nasty ones – and I won’t mention any names …

William O’Shaughnessy:

The “dumb blonde argument” – he was so articulate …

Governor Cuomo:

Right … he gave a great speech, but he didn’t get anything done.  He was a great talker – that’s right.  He called it the “dumb blonde!”  You can’t say that anymore, by the way. But he did call it the “Dumb Blonde Syndrome.” 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Sir, let me ask you … as you go forward for governor or president or whatever is in your future Andrew Mark Cuomo … do you want to be loved or do you want to be respected?

Because as I hear you today on this rainy, drodsome day, you’re not really showing this inner, wonderful stuff to many people.  Do you want to be loved or respected?

Governor Cuomo:

I want to be loved by the people I respect!

William O’Shaughnessy:

I’m going to give you the final word, sir.  We’re very grateful to you.  You are your Father’s son.  Thank you ..

Governor Cuomo:

Thank you. Good to talk to you, my Brother Bill.

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, the national charitable organization.  He is also a longtime director and member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation. He has operated WVOX and WVIP, two of the last independent stations in the New York area, for 56 years as president and editorial director.

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … and “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files,” released in January, 2011. He has also written “Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man,” a tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo which has just been published.  He is currently working on his fifth book RADIOactive for Fordham University Press, another anthology with interviews, commentaries, speeches and tributes.



Cindy Gallagher
Whitney Media

Biaggi for State Senate

A WVOX Editorial of the Air
Broadcast September 5, 2018
By William O’Shaughnessy, President & Editorial Director

In a dreary and nasty political season, Alessandra Biaggi stands out as a refreshing and very welcome breath of fresh air.

The granddaughter of the late Mario Biaggi of sainted memory is running an enlightened, inspiring – and very effective – campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 34th State Senatorial District against the controversial Jeffrey Klein.

The odd-shaped 34th District includes a lot of the Bronx and a chunk of Westchester and we’ve thus known Jeff Klein for a long, long time. He used to come around almost every day early in his career until … until he cut a slick deal with the elders in Albany and led five or six disgruntled, rogue Democrats into a questionable scheme in which the IDC (the Independent Democratic Conference) made their infamous “power-sharing” deal with Senate Republicans, the sole purpose of which was to accrue personal power and influence for Mr. Klein.

However, with pressure at last from the Governor, this cozy and nefarious compact has now fallen apart as Senate Democrats rallied to the legitimate and authentic leadership of Westchester’s own Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Now that Jeff Klein has lost his once powerful perch in the Leadership … good government types in the District are hoping Miss Biaggi can finally put an end to Jeff Klein’s self-serving and less than stellar career.

And so now our friends in Westchester and in the Bronx can render the final coup de gras by voting next Thursday, September 13th, for a gifted, dynamic, committed – and really quite wonderful – challenger Alessandra Biaggi.

In the New York area’s roiling political waters there have emerged several candidates waving the banner of so-called “Progressivism.” But Alessandra Biaggi, with her sensible, centrist approach to the great issues of the day, has steered clear of the way-out fringe loonies abroad in the land.

And while some candidates and challengers are entranced by national issues and Trump-bashing … Biaggi has appropriately kept a laser-like focus on State issues within the purview of the Senate to which she aspires.

To be clear: She’s bright, she’s creative and very dynamic.  But she ain’t “way out there.” Alessandra Biaggi will make a great New York State Senator.

WVOX and WVIP proudly endorse her candidacy.


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, the national charitable organization.  He is also a longtime director and member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation. He has operated WVOX and WVIP, two of the last independent stations in the New York area, for 56 years as president and editorial director.


He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … and “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files,” released in January, 2011. He has also written “Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man,” a tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo which has just been published.  He is currently working on his fifth book RADIOactive for Fordham University Press, another anthology.



Cindy Gallagher


“A Death in the Family” re: Tim Russert

“A Death in the Family”

A Whitney Media Commentary

Broadcast on WVOX and WVIP

by William O’Shaughnessy

June 16, 2008


His father, immortalized in an endearing and best-selling book, collected garbage and trash from the hard, bleak streets of south Buffalo.  And if you came out of that dwindling city in western New York as I did, you will recognize Tim Russert as a child of the neighborhood.

If you’re listening to this in Yonkers (where true love conquers), the Bronx or even in Peekskill or Mamaroneck, you will also feel a kinship with the television journalist who collapsed and died in a studio in Washington Friday afternoon.  Timothy John Russert, Jr. was the best of what we are as broadcasters.  But he did not resemble anyone who ever lived in Scarsdale, Bronxville, Rye, Bedford or Litchfield. 

He was a reassuring, comforting presence you thought would always be there in our lives.  And my own tribe, our entire profession, took this hard.  Anyone who ever sat in front of a microphone or peered into a television camera feels an awful sadness which is deep and personal.  Russert’s passing, so unexpected and so sudden, was like a death in the family.

I knew him when he worked for Mario Cuomo.  But I am entitled, if not entirely qualified, to get on the radio to tell you about Tim Russert because we also went to the same Canisius High School on Delaware Avenue, the big, broad boulevard that runs through one of the remaining nice sections of Buffalo even to this day.

And although we were in the care and keeping of the German Jesuits some ten  years apart, Russert and I both got whacked upside the head by the same worn old leather prayer book belonging to the Reverend John Sturm, S.J., who took most seriously his title and high estate:  Prefect of Discipline.

Father John was built like a fireplug.  And although an equal opportunity disciplinarian, he made Timmy Russert his favorite charge almost from the minute he first encountered the personable Irish youngster from South Buffalo with the bright eyes and easy smile.  That was back in the 60’s and they have been friends ever since.  Canisius has turned out federal judges named Crotty and Arcara, political power brokers like Joe Crangle, big car dealers, stellar athletes including a few Holy Cross and Notre Dame quarterbacks, and doctors and lawyers of great renown.  The Jesuits spotted Russert’s beguiling potential early on.  Even then they knew.

He would go back to Buffalo over the years to see his father and during summers better than this one Tim Russert would sit at Cole’s bar in the Elmwood section to talk sports over a beer and a “beef on weck,” Buffalo’s legendary version of roast beef, a steamship round of which was personally carved by the bartender and then piled on a Kimmelweck roll covered with salt to be dipped in Heinz Ketchup.  The music in the air on those nights was provided by ancient tapes of Fred Klestine’s old radio programs from the 50’s and 60’s which survive to this day at Cole’s.

They would order another Simon Pure beer or a Carling’s ale and talk about the rich girls who went to “The Mount,” a boarding school, and about Johnny Barnes, the old Canisius High football coach and sometimes about Cornelius MacGillicudy, a favorite teacher who owned a bar in the Parkside section over near Delaware Park.

He never lost touch with the Jesuits.  And just a few weeks ago, Father Sturm, now in his 90’s, sent out invitations to a scholarship luncheon in his own honor with the obligatory picture of his protégé Tim Russert on the cover.

Before his dazzling work on television which made him famous, Tim labored in the service of the two brightest minds in public life during our time:  Daniel Patrick Moynihan and the estimable Mario M. Cuomo.

Someone said yesterday on television:  “He wasn’t exactly a pretty boy.”  With his cheeks and jowls, Russert was the complete antithesis of all the hyper, vacuous “talking heads” and all the bimbos –   male as well as female – who sit each day in those anchor chairs praying the teleprompter doesn’t fail lest they be forced to utter something more profound than “absolutely!”

Only Chris Matthews was his equal in terms of depth and intelligence.  And maybe Jon Meacham or Lawrence O’Donnell or Peggy Noonan.  George Stephanopoulos can hold his own in front of a camera (and in front of George Will).  And classy Deborah Norville has a brain.  While among the youngsters coming up – William “Billy” Bush and Chris Cuomo are bursting with intelligence and promise.  Ditto Bill Geist’s kid Willie.  And David Gregory and Tucker Carlson are easy to take.  Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer are class acts in any season. 

We’ve always liked Bob Scheiffer and Judy Woodruff.  And how can you not like Mike Barnicle and Joe Scarborough (but not the girl with him, the one with the famous father, who talks over everybody).  And I hope Larry King, like Paul Harvey on the radio, goes on forever.  Plus I still take pleasure in our infrequent sightings of Rather and Brokaw.

Russert, however, operated on a level far beyond most of them.  And he didn’t need high tech production values or fancy overhead lighting in an ultra-modern studio to enhance and amplify his unique genius.  He was to network news what Mario Cuomo is to public discourse.  And as the great Cuomo himself reminded us, “Tim never forgot where he came from and he never let us forget it either … and we loved him for it.”

He would summer on Nantucket and go to parties at Sally Quinn’s in Washington.  But Russert never denied his roots in Buffalo.  There was a realness about him, a genuineness, on and off the air.

A few summers ago, Russert was the main speaker at an important conference of the New York State Broadcasters Association up at Bolton Landing on Lake George.  After his talk he was persuaded by our mutual friend Joe Reilly, the head of the broadcasters in the Empire State, to linger and give out the Association’s Awards for Excellence … even as an NBC plane waited on the tarmac at the nearby Glens Falls airport to rush him back to Washington.

There were many awards and citations in every category.  But Russert was his usual generous self and so he stayed late into the night as the awards presentations wore on.  And when it was announced that your own WVOX had won the designation for “Best Editorials in New York State” (which we clearly did not deserve), Russert arched his eyebrows and the Irish eyes twinkled as my son David and I advanced to the front of the ballroom to receive our award.

As we posed for the cameras and the flashbulbs popped, Tim asked, sotto voce, “How’s Mario? … how’s Nancy? … how are the kids? … how’s the station?”  And now as my mind drifts back on this weekend after he died, I wonder if I remembered to inquire about his own welfare?  I hope so, but I doubt it, given that heady moment in the spotlights.  But he remembered.

Russert then thoughtfully pulled away my son David for a shot with just the two of them … and said, again on the QT, while still smiling for the cameras, “How the hell did your old man win this damn thing … it must have been by shear guile!  Or did Cuomo write it for him?”  As the two of them cracked up with laughter, no one in the audience of more than 500 had a clue what they were chuckling about.

James O’Shea, who owns The West Street Grill, a high class saloon in Litchfield, Connecticut (he much prefers the designation “fine dining establishment”) called while I was thinking about all this.  According to O’Shea, “Russert possessed the genius of the Irish.  Just say he was Irish.  People will know what that means. He was Irish!”  As O’Shea provides libation and sustenance for the likes of Philip Roth, Rex Reed, Jim Hoge, Bill vandenHeuvel, Rose Styron, George Clooney, Peter Duchin and Brooke Hayward … I will bow to his wisdom.  Russert did indeed have the genius of the Irish.

Nancy and I would see him around town of an evening, when he would come up from Washington to do some business at the NBC Universal mother ship at Rockefeller Center or if one of us had to emcee a dinner.   And no matter how late the hour or how tired and rumpled he appeared, it was always the same:  “How are the kids? … how are the stations doing? … how’s the gov?”

NBC delayed the news of his passing and actually got scooped by the New York Post and the Times until someone from their shop was retrieved to go and inform his wife Maureen Orth, their son Luke and his beloved father Big Russ.  But who, I wonder had to knock on the door of the old priest in the Jesuit retirement house on Washington Street up in Buffalo to tell Father John Sturm, S.J. Timmy Russert was gone?

I always thought Russert would have made a wonderful politician himself or a great teacher.  Or even a priest.  And with his sudden, untimely departure at 58, he probably taught us one more lesson learned from the old Jesuits:  “You know not the hour … or the moment.”

The newsman-journalist known as Tim Russert has been mourned by millions and eulogized in all the journals and periodicals in the land.  But the most exquisite tribute, and probably the one he would have liked the most came from Michelle Spuck, a waitress at Bantam Pizza in the Litchfield hills, who told a customer over the weekend, “I’m so sad about this …  I never met him … but I knew him.”

He died in front of a microphone.

This is Bill O’Shaughnessy.



Cindy Gallagher



William O’Shaughnessy is president of Whitney Radio and editorial director of stations WVOX and WVIP, Westchester, N.Y.    He is a former chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters and served as president of the New York State Broadcasters Association.  During his 18-year service at NAB, he specialized in free speech and First Amendment issues. 

He is a director and chairman of the Endowment Committee of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, based in Greenwich, Connecticut.

A self-styled “Rockefeller Republican,” he was active in the presidential campaign of President George H.W. Bush and served as chairman of Republicans for Mario Cuomo during each of the Governor’s three successful campaigns for governor of New York.

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) and “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001), collections of his radio commentaries, essays and interviews, published by Fordham University Press.  “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” was released in April, 2004.  He also edited “Serving Their Communities,” a 230-page history of the New York State Broadcasters Association and has just started his fourth volume “AGAIN!  Run That By Me One More Time.”

Philip Roth – Out and About of an Evening

Philip Roth

Out and About of an Evening


William O’Shaughnessy


May 23, 2018


Philip Roth has died. He was 85, tall, trim, an attractive man who carried broad shoulders and a smoldering genius for the English language. And in his 85 years he wrote some 32 books that caused him to be accused by the New York Times of being “a giant of American letters” and “a pre-eminent figure in 20th century literature.”

I bought and collected a few of his books, but I never read one of them.  I much prefer non-fiction and, as Roth himself once confessed, he did too.

I “knew” him mostly through our mutual patronage and affection for the West Street Grill, the estimable country restaurant on the Village Green in tony Litchfield which has been lovingly operated for almost 30 years by two marvelous and dear souls Charlie Kafferman and James O’Shea.  Philip Roth got there long before I darkened the door of the eatery.  For years he was a member in-good-standing of “The Roundtable,” a weekly private luncheon and lemon squeeze featuring the writers William Styron, John Updike, Arthur Miller and the actor Richard Widmark.

In recent years Roth would dine at the Grill on Sunday nights with Mia Farrow, still a knockout at 73.  She would drive over from her Frog Hollow Farm in Bridgewater. And the great writer would journey down from his farmhouse in the woods of Warren, Ct. 

And on one of these agreeable nights the proprietor Charlie Kafferman, as I was about to sit at table 21, steered me over to the adjacent table #22.  My compadre Gregorio Alvarez and I were at table 21.

Here is a snippet of dialogue from that evening:

Kafferman: “Philip … Bill writes books too.”

O’Shaughnessy: “Charlie, don’t do this to me.  I am not worth to loose the strap of his sandal …”

Roth: “I know him, Charlie …we talk baseball.  You know Mia (Farrow).  We thought you were in Radio.  What kind of books do you write?”

O’Shaughnessy: “Anthologies … but my new one is about Mario Cuomo and our friendship … I admired him.”

Roth: “Well … so you do anthologies … about whom?  Who do you write about …?”

O’Shaughnessy: “Oh, New York characters … Toots Shor … Nelson Rockefeller … Sirio Maccioni … John Lindsay … Cardinal O’Connor … characters …”

Roth: “Oh, I see … you really write about all your friends!” (laughter)

Here’s another marvelous anecdote that comes out of our favorite restaurant in the Litchfield hills …

The great writer couldn’t count the number or frequency of the literary awards bestowed on him or the encomiums showered on the canon of his prolific works.  So one day Roth called his friend Charlie to beg a favor. “Charlie … I’m being given some big award up in Hartford by the governor and I just don’t feel like schlepping up there. Could you ‘represent’ me and accept on my behalf …?”  So Kafferman and his partner James O’Shea journeyed to Hartford to accept the award, a two-foot tall bronze with outstretched hands in a “winged victory” stance, from the Governor’s hands and lugged  it back to the Grill where it sits to this day.

But the story doesn’t end there. A few weeks later Roth was summoned to Washington to be honored as “America’s Greatest Living Novelist” by President Barack Obama.

When Mr. Roth came in for dinner the next week, his friends at the restaurant inquired how the Presidential Award ceremony went: “It went fine … but when I went up to receive the award … the president whispered, ‘Where’s Charlie’?” He was really disappointed!  (Roth swore it was a true story).

Someone once said he could have been a stand-up comic. When he wasn’t out and about of an evening making people laugh, Philip Milton Roth published almost 90 books including Hispanic and foreign editions of his American classics among which were Goodbye Columbus … American Pastoral … Portnoy’s Complaint … My Life as a Man.  And then in 2012 he closed down his computer and put a lid on his genius for all time to come

I was by this time no longer in possession of the mental vitality or the physical fitness needed to mount and sustain a large creative attack of any duration.”  He actually put a Post-it note on his computer: “The struggle with writing is done.”

He also said: “Old age isn’t a battle, old age is a massacre.” 

He inveighed against the “diminishments” which assault us as we confront old age. It’s a marvelous word often used by Mario Cuomo and Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the brilliant Jesuit philosopher-paleontologist. 


When I write, I’m alone.  It’s filled with fear and loneliness and anxiety and I never needed religion to save me.” 

He was a Jew, to be sure.  But he hated to be called a “Jewish writer.”  “I am an American writer, if nothing else …”  he once said.  And like Mario Cuomo, he was denounced by his own. Mr. Cuomo was criticized and censured by auxiliary bishops.  Roth was assailed by influential rabbis.

He was also a self-professed “atheist” who had a deep and abiding distrust of Organized Religion.  But despite his strong feelings on the subject, he was a nice man in every season with an altogether attractive persona who in his 85 years entertained millions and made them think … while causing some of us to laugh of an evening at his favorite watering hole.

He left us earlier this week with all those books I never read … his great good nature … and that marvelous sense of humor. 

I was not worthy to loose the strap of his sandal.


Charlie Kafferman & Philip Roth


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, the national charitable organization.  He is also a longtime director and member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation. He has operated WVOX and WVIP, two of the last independent stations in the New York area, for 56 years as president and editorial director.


He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … and “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files,” released in January, 2011. He has also written “Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man,” a tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo which has just been published.  He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, another anthology.




Cindy Gallagher