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22 May 2023

Barry Farber (1930-2020) radio host

Turnabout #7 Summer 1966 p32, Siobhan Fredericks wrote: 

“the subject of transvestism in general and TURNABOUT Magazine in particular received a good deal of welcome publicity this July when the publisher of TURNABOUT was interviewed by Barry Farber on his The Barry Farber Show on WOR RKO General radio. The ninety-minute program was aired "live" in fourteen of the United States and broadcast via syndicated tape in outlets in thirty other states. …

The Farber interview was arranged by Lyle Stuart, publisher of A YEAR AMONG THE GIRLS - reviewed in TURNABOUT #6 . Farber had done his homework well. He'd read the book thoroughly and familiarized himself with TURNABOUT in advance of the broadcast. He was so favorably impressed with both the book and this magazine that he expanded the originally scheduled forty-five minute interview to a full ninety minutes.

Farber proved to be a fine interviewer, open-minded and most understanding, and we were able to get the subject matter onto a fairly sophisticated level from the start. The first half of the program involved only the two of us; the second forty-five minute segment brought in Dr. Tom Levin, assistant professor of psychiatry at Albert Einstein Medical College, who aimed some intelligent, if long-winded, questions at me.

This was the first time a radio discussion of TVism reached a national audience, but it was actually the second time TVism had been aired on radio, for in January 1965 I participated in a panel discussion on New York's listener-sponsored station, WBAI- FM, with such eminent persons as Dr. Wardell Pomeroy, co-author of the Kinsey reports and presently doing research on transsexualism with the Harry Benjamin Foundation.”

In Transvestia #51, June 1968, Virginia Prince wrote: 

“Monday evening I did the Barry Farber show on WOR which turned out pretty well. Not as well as I would have liked because Barry used up a good deal of time on irrelevant matters and there is never enough time anyway. I did learn that his show is syndicated to about 15 other cities too so we got some extra coverage that way.”

Turnabout #10 p25: 

“In March of 1975, Mr. Farber again dared to beard the smug lion of sacro-sanct normalcy, by having a whole section of his program devoted to the various aspects of Transvestism. Interestingly enough, this subject followed immediately after a discussion, by a Deputy Police Chief from the Times Square area, of the problems of prostitution and other illegal sexual activities in mid-town New York.

For the second discussion of transvestism, the panel included a psychiatrist who specialized in transvestite and trans-sexual cases, a trans-sexual, the wife of a transvestite, a transvestite, and the proprietor of a TV boutique in mid-town Manhattan. That group would seem to be able to cover all bases in discussing the subject which concerns us.”

So who was Barry Farber?

Farber was born in Baltimore and raised in North Carolina. He had a knack for languages, and, to varying extents, picked up 25 of them, and published a book, How to Learn Any Language. He attended the Zagreb Peace Conference, 1951 in Yugoslavia, and the 1952 Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki. As a newspaper reporter in 1956, Farber was invited by the US Air Force to cover the airlift of Hungarian refugees from the uprising in Hungary that year. By 1960 he had his first talk show; in 1962 he had an evening talk show on radio station WOR in New York, and in 1967 he became an all-night host, also on WOR.

His first wife was Norwegian, and for some years he was an advocate for Norwegian-style social democracy, and at that time supported the US Democrat Party. However in 1970 he ran for the the U.S. House of Representatives in New York City's 19th district as the candidate of the Republican and Liberal parties, and in 1977 he ran for New York City Mayor for the Conservative Party - in both cases receiving only a small percentage of the votes.

Despite his turn to the right, he - like Lyle Stuart - believed in free speech, and, in addition to transvestites, had featured in the 1960s Frank Kameny the pioneer gay activist, and Anton LaVey of the Church of Satan in 1969. And, August 22, 1972, the day that John Wojtowicz did what came to be called the Dog Day Afternoon bank robbery, he was phoned in the bank by journalist Arthur Bell, who later that evening went on Farber’s program to discuss what he knew.

Farber remained active in broadcasting until May 5, 2020, the day before his 90th birthday. On the 6th he died at home.

Books by Barry Farber

  • Making People Talk: You Can Turn Every Conversation into a Magic Moment (William Morrow & Co: 1987)

  • How to Learn Any Language: Quickly, Easily, Inexpensively, Enjoyably and on Your Own (Carol Publishing Corporation: 1991)

  • How to Not Make the Same Mistake Once (Barricade Books: 1999)

  • Cocktails with Molotov: An Odyssey of Unlikely Detours (WND Books: 2012)

1 comment:

  1. I have known about Farber for years. Knew he was conservative. I'm pleased that he was an open minded interviewer. Didn't seem to have an agenda, which is refreshing to hear.


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