Leturgey Musings and Goings On

These are some of my writings...from events going on in the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance and elsewhere, to observations from the rest of my decidely unformulaic life.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Media Maverick Jerry Bowyer Uses Intelligence To Surge In Radio

[My feature story on Pittsburgh media personality Jerry Bowyer from 1/31/2005 issue of The Front Weekly]

by Tom Leturgey

On January 20, Jerry Bowyer clicked on the microphone in Pittsburgh’s Talk Radio 1360 WPTT’s Green Tree studio and asked callers to reflect on President George W. Bush’s just-completed inauguration speech. He found very few takers, largely because his new 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. audience was most likely still at work about the time Bush’s second-term officially began.

The change from morning to afternoon drive has been a boon for Bowyer. In what he routinely calls, “the best job I’ve ever had,” Bowyer finds himself more rested, primed and ready for action.

He was never better than the day a few weeks ago when a caller, who dubbed himself ‘Rabbi Art’, spent upwards of 20 minutes arguing whether the Torah advocated a tax code. The caller interpreted the virtues as civic responsibility and high levies. Bowyer, who backs lower taxes, repeatedly asked the rabbi for the exact location of his source material. Flummoxed, the left-leaning Rabbi simply couldn’t keep up with the right-leaning host, who effortlessly dispatched opinion and translation, sometimes verbatim from text. Near the end of the spirited conversation, Bowyer, 42, a self-described “Historical Christian,” appeared to both toy with and be irked by the caller, who allegedly was the expert. He blistered that caller the same way he masters some of his actual guests, like conservative favorite Ann Coulter. And Bowyer wasn’t the first to call outlandish commentator Pat Buchanan a racist for his views.

“He’s one of the most intelligent talk show hosts I’ve ever heard,” said producer Greg Kuntz, who has teamed with Bowyer since the talker switched time slots with another excellent veteran, Doug Hoerth, in September. “Jerry’s big thing is debate. And he’s not as right-wing as some may think.”

The debate with the rabbi is just the most recent dust up from dominant one-sided debate. A few years ago when some area leaders floated a “Living Wage” for city-contracted workers, more than one activist bailed on their guest appearances—in the middle of broadcast conversations—unable to back their claims with fiscal reality.

Much like other radio chat fests, most of 2004 was dominated by Bush v. John F. Kerry presidential talk. Bowyer’s program was as neck deep as any other, but it was also more about hard issues and less about flag waving and Bush bashing.

Bowyer and his wife Susan’s media company last year published the host’s book on economics and job numbers entitled “The Bush Boom.” The well-reviewed publication found its way to the White House last year and earned Bowyer one-on-one interviews with vice president Dick Cheney and an in-studio chat with then National Security Advisor, now Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice. “She was brilliant and friendly,” Bowyer said of Rice. “And she hugged our receptionist.”

The success of “Boom” provided an opportunity for national television exposure with cable’s Neil Cavuto and guest hosting gigs on other radio shows from Los Angeles to Chicago to the syndicated Mike Gallagher program.

He also continued writing for National Review Online, Tech Central Station and Crosswalk.Nevertheless, with the last presidential election safely in the annals of history, Bowyer looks ahead to the next subject du jour.

“The callers decide the topic,” he says. “They are in charge and they know it.”

Bowyer expects a lot of Pittsburgh Mayoral talk over the next few months. “It depends on who’s in,” he adds. County Prothonotary Michael Lamb has “grabbed some news cycles” by being the first to enter what pundits believe will be an interesting race. “(Presumptive heir to Tom Murphy’s throne, Former City Council president) Bob O’Connor has not been heard from.

“Harry Readshaw would be Pittsburgh’s next Mayor if he ran,” Bowyer said confidently of the Democrat state Representative from Carrick, who was considered and courted by many Democrats and Republicans alike (former Republican county executive Jim Roddey has called Readshaw “my favorite Democrat”) as a formidable dark horse. However, Readshaw and his son were injured in a rather serious weather-related auto accident over the Thanksgiving holiday season, and it’s believed that he will not enter the mayoral sweepstakes.

Bowyer doesn’t plan on waiting for issues to fall into his lap. On Inauguration Day, despite only a few calls with every man reaction, his radio show was stuffed with presidential historians, primed with opinions. In addition, he’s quick to talk about new movie releases, technology, business or religion.

In fact, Bowyer’s next big project is World View, a Sunday morning talk show he describes as “Meet the Press with religious topics.” The show started as a series of five specials around the election but has been picked up for a longer run. He continues to host topical Focus on the Issues and assists Susan, who manages their other TV show, Pennsylvania Newsmakers. World View, he says, is his true growth product, as few real syndication opportunities exist for radio hosts who can switch gears from topical politics, presidential and social economic history to the latest in pop culture, without ranting and sometimes foaming at the mouth.

Better yet, staying local means there’s always time spend with the Bowyer’s expansive brood and sprawling 7-bedroom, 4-acre fixer upper in Elizabeth Township. In addition to seven children, the family took in a family friend, Marlena, a few years ago.

The Bowyer’s eldest son, Chris, 20, is a budding movie critic who’s encyclopedic knowledge of filmdom and culture rivals that his father.The younger six children, plus Marlena, are all home schooled. One principle of their education is a “Reading Circle,” where each child, regardless of their age, take turns reading old political speeches aloud. That unique way to encourage reading is the focus of Bowyer’s next book.

“It’s a slow train,” he jokes of the book’s progress. Bowyer Media is closer to publishing its second book for a local financial planner.Sometimes slowing down, reflecting and prioritizing is the right plan of attack for someone who seemingly has dozens of plates simultaneously spinning.

Kind of like an inaugural address.


At February 6, 2005 at 10:10 AM, Blogger Mark Rauterkus said...

Great article Tom. Well done.


Post a Comment

<< Home