10 Questions with ... Noam Laden
July 31, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WGHT/Pompton Lakes, NJ; WSCC/Charleston, SC; WABC/New York
1. What got you into radio? Why radio, and when did you decide it was what you wanted to do as a career?
I started listening to talk radio when I was a wee little lad in beautiful (I'm being sarcastic here) Trenton, New Jersey. As a teenager my oldest brother (I have four) and I would hang in his West Philly pad, smoke illegal bud, and find innovate ways to prank call the local talk station, WWDB. Poor Irv Homer - We seemed to fool his call screener the most, and he always took the bait on the air. The calls usually ended with him calling us sick and demented fools. He was right. Even then I knew I wanted to be some kind of broadcaster.
I have been very fortunate to land some great radio gigs over the years, and so I guess I can finally call radio my career, though I still feel like I'm in the first chapter of this whole job thing. I have lots more I want to do. Stay tuned!
2. You've done both talk hosting and news; how much has working as a host informed what you do as a newsman? What went into developing your on-air style and sensibility as an anchor/personality?
I think I only figured out the difference between a regular news anchor and a talk radio news anchor when I started working with Curtis Sliwa in 2007 and on a Sunday show called "Religion on the Line". Both shows gave me the chance to be a personality and a news anchor. I could call robbers "thugs" and pedophiles "creeps." I purposely wrote my newscasts in a titillating way that almost always assured the talk show host I was working with would interrupt me. I realized early on that my newscasts had the power to make hosts divert from their planned topics and go with the story I was reporting.
3. What's your philosophy regarding what you put into your newscasts and into the early show -- besides the biggest stories, what kind of stories do you look for, and why?
I love my early show (we kick butt in the ratings by the way). I'm a silly person, so the show definitely reflects that. I also have an open mic policy. Anyone can weigh in on any story at any time. Crash (the Engineer extraordinaire and someone I consider a good friend) is a treasure trove of useless facts and he lays them on me every mornings. Debbie Duhaime (the best traffic reporter in the biz) is passionate about her politics and isn't afraid to share them. Same goes for Jennifer Nittoso (the best meteorologist in the biz by the way) - she can, and usually does, crack me up. It's a team effort. We get to the big stories, but do a lot of goofy ones too. There is no real philosophy. I just want to be entertaining and informative at the same time. I can get serious too. The Monday after the Colorado shooting I spent the first 20 minutes of the show talking about how I had lost a childhood friend to gun violence just three years ago. I spoke from the heart about how his violent death was felt by so many. Sometimes we forget there are real people behind the horrid details of a grisly we are reporting.
4. Who are your mentors, influences, and heroes?
I have so many mentors. Bruce Anderson is definitely at the top of that list. The long time WABC anchor was not afraid to give me guidance and became my biggest advocate when I was looking for a full time job at WABC. He is hysterical, and in many ways I modeled my on air persona after him. George Weber was a great influence too. We didn't always see eye to eye on story ideas but he treated me like an equal when I was just trying to get my foot in the door. For a few years I sat in an office next door to Charles Osgood. He was - and is - fun to be around. I really love my newest radio partner, Geraldo Rivera . That dude is the most fearless guy I have ever met, and the nicest one too. He is the smartest talk show host on radio and is coming to a town near you (sorry about the plug) My heroes are Laurie Cantillo (WTOP), Crys Quimby (Clear Channel), Richard Sementa (Producer, Mark Levin Show) and Greg Ahfeld, who all put their necks out to bring me back on the air after I was dumped. I really owe them (in fact. I'm on a payment plan with Sementa that thankfully ends this December). Not too many people are willing to put their necks out for someone else these days.
5. What's your process -- how do you prepare for the day? What resources do you use, and what time do you start for the early morning show?
I wake up at 2:20 am. The station (above Penn Station) is just a mile away from my home, so I'm behind my desk at 3 am. I check out the local blogs in different towns across the tri-state; check out the wire services; go through email from listeners; and then formulate some sort of news day. I have my own show at 5AM. Then I work on Imus in the morning till ten - and then play sidekick to Geraldo Rivera till noon. I try to change up the news for each show. It's busy, but I really love it.
6. Do you use social media in conjunction with your work? You don't tweet much, but do you follow Twitter for topics and leads? Facebook? Or not?
I never really tweet. I follow a lot of people. I garner story ideas from Facebook - but I'm still not too convinced that anyone really cares what I'm up to day to day. I did have a slice of pizza today though; my kid won a soccer trophy; and they repaved the sidewalk in front of my building with an off-color white cement.
7. What do you do for fun?
I play basketball , football and soccer with my two boys. I workout at the gym almost everyday. I'm always reading a couple of books at the same time. I get home by 12:30, so once in a while I get a little afternoon delight action while the kids are stilI at school. Don't tell my wife, please. I like having dinner with friends. I live a pretty boring life by most standards, but I really like it that way.
8. Of what are you most proud?
That's easy. My kids make me proud... most days. My wife makes me proud to know her. She keeps it all together when things get incredibly hectic.
9. I can't make it through the day without _____________.
...belting out the entire Barry Manilow catalog while atop a firm cardboard box on West 34th Street.
10. What's the best advice you've ever gotten? The worst?
The best advice was...
...I can't remember anyone ever really giving me any advice that I actually followed through on. I like to give advice, though. I have a shop next to my cardboard box on West 34th Street . Advice cost 5 cents.