Barry Farber

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Barry Farber
Barry Farber
Barry M. Farber

(1930-05-05) May 5, 1930 (age 89)
OccupationRadio talk show host, commentator, author, enthusiast

Barry M. Farber (born May 5, 1930) is an American conservative radio talk show host, author, commentator and language-learning enthusiast. In 2002, industry publication Talkers magazine ranked him the 9th greatest radio talk show host of all time.[1] He has also written articles appearing in The New York Times, Reader's Digest, The Washington Post, and the Saturday Review. He is the father of journalist Celia Farber[2] and singer-songwriter Bibi Farber.[3]

Early life and language learning[edit]

Born in Baltimore, Maryland,[4] Farber is Jewish and grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina.[citation needed]

After nearly failing Latin in the ninth grade, that summer Farber started reading a Mandarin Chinese language-learning book. A trip to Miami Beach, Florida, to see his grandparents, coincidentally put him in the midst of a large number of Chinese navy sailors in training there. His Chinese rapidly improved.[citation needed]

Back in Greensboro, he took up Italian, Spanish, and French on his own before summer vacation was over. He started taking French and Spanish classes in his sophomore year and also learned Norwegian on his own while in high school. He graduated in 1948 from Greensboro Senior High School (see Grimsley High School).[citation needed]

He then attended the University of North Carolina, where he learned Russian. As a delegate from the National Student Association to what he later called a "Tito propaganda fiesta called the Zagreb Peace Conference", he found other Slavic languages were closely related to Russian. A 16-day boat trip back to the United States with Yugoslavs allowed him to practice his Serbo-Croatian.[5] After covering the 1952 Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki, he learned Indonesian on another boat trip back to the U.S.[6]

As a newspaper reporter in 1956, Farber was invited by the United States Air Force to cover the airlift of Hungarian refugees from the uprising in Hungary that year. In an Austrian border village, Farber later wrote, he so impressed a Norwegian man, Thorvald Stoltenberg, with knowledge of the man's native tongue that he was allowed to go on one of the covert missions smuggling Hungarians into Austria.[citation needed]

Farber has knowledge of more than 25 languages, including the ones mentioned above. He has published a book titled How to Learn Any Language that details his method for self-study. It is based around a multi-track study of the language, the use of memory aids for vocabulary, and the utilization of "hidden moments" throughout the day.[citation needed]

Farber prefers to say that he is a student of a certain number of languages, rather than saying that he speaks them. Of the languages he has studied, half he "dates" and the other half he "marries". According to Farber: "By languages I date, I mean no grammar and no script, languages like Bengali."[7]

Aside from Bengali, the 25 foreign languages he has studied include these 19 ("marriage" or "dating" specified, when known): Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French (marriage), German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Mandarin, Norwegian (marriage), Portuguese, Russian (marriage), Serbo-Croatian, Spanish (marriage), Swedish and Yiddish,[8] as well as Bulgarian and Korean.[7]

Farber's book, How to Learn any Language never specifies all of the 25 languages that his publicity materials say he has studied. He says in the book that when he was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1952, he was "tested and qualified for work in fourteen different languages" and has since learned more in some of those languages as well as the others.[9] He mentioned in the 2005 interview that he still constantly learns bits and pieces of new language—some Albanian phrases or a new phrase each time he went into a grocery store where a Tibetan woman works.[7]

Radio career[edit]

His radio career began in New York City, working as the producer for the Tex and Jinx interview program from Peacock Alley in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, a live remote broadcast over WNBC-AM in the mid-1950s at 10:30 PM to midnight, Monday through Friday.

William Safire hired Farber as a producer. Farber eventually hosted his own show on WINS.[10]

Begun in 1960, his first talk show was called Barry Farber’s WINS Open Mike. It was the only talk show on what was then a rock n’ roll station and was on weeknights at 11pm. He left that job for an evening talk show on WOR-AM in 1962, and then became an all-night host in 1967.[11]

In November 1977, Kaiser Broadcasting debuted a weekly talk show hosted by Farber as a replacement to its program hosted by Lou Gordon, who died earlier that year, but it was short-lived.[12]

Farber then joined WMCA for an afternoon drive time talk show, which lasted until 1989 when WMCA changed its format to Christian radio.

In 1990, he became a national talk-show host on the ABC Radio Network, which was trying to build a group of nationwide talk shows at the time. Lynn Samuels was forced to share her local WABC show with Farber which led to on-air confrontations, and resulted in her departure from the station. ABC's project later was abandoned, and Farber, Michael Castello, and Alan Colmes got together and quickly formed their own independent network called Daynet.

Farber is now on CRN Digital Talk Radio, weekdays, and on the Talk Radio Network, hosting a one-hour weekend show and filling in for TRN's weekday hosts, most commonly on The Laura Ingraham Show.[11]

Early in the 1970s, Farber was an adjunct professor of journalism at St. John's University in New York. Often, his former students are heard calling his radio program with admiring words and memories.[citation needed]

On the radio, Farber became easily identifiable by his unique combination of drawn-out Southern drawl, intense delivery, verbose prose, and quick wit. Sponsors loved his ability to deliver a live commercial spot, often ad-libbed, and make whatever the particular product was sound tantalizing; he always sounded like he truly believed in the product.[citation needed]

In 1991 he was named "Talk Show Host of The Year" by the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts.[10]

In 2008 Farber married Sara Pentz, a television news reporter and journalist.

Farber was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2014.

Political philosophy and career[edit]

In his youth, Farber fell in love with Norway, marrying Norwegian national Ulla Fahre[13] and embracing the Social Democracy popular in that Scandinavian nation. During the 1960s his political commentary combined militant opposition to Soviet Communism with lavish praise for the achievements of Social Democracy, which he patriotically hoped America would one day adopt. But when the long-incumbent Swedish Social Democrats faced defeat at the polls, he began to re-examine his beliefs and would come to advocate the liberal economics popular among those called conservatives in America.

A former Democrat, in 1970 he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in New York City's 19th district1970 United States House of Representatives elections#New York as the candidate of the Republican and Liberal parties, in a lively uphill race[14] against Democrat Bella Abzug, the victor. In 1977, Farber left his talk-radio career for a time to run for Mayor of New York CityNew York City mayoral elections#1977 as the candidate of the Conservative party, receiving almost as many votes as the Republican candidate, but vastly fewer than winner Democrat Ed Koch.


  • Making People Talk: You Can Turn Every Conversation into a Magic Moment (William Morrow & Co: 1987) ISBN 0-688-01591-3
  • How to Learn Any Language: Quickly, Easily, Inexpensively, Enjoyably and on Your Own 172 pages, (Carol Publishing Corporation: 1991) ISBN 0-8065-1271-7 (paperback)
  • How to Not Make the Same Mistake Once (Barricade Books: 1999) ISBN 1-56980-132-0


  1. ^ The 25 Greatest Radio Talk Show Hosts of All Time, Talkers Magazine Online. Retrieved November 9. 2006.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-16. Retrieved 2011-07-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2] InfoPlease Web site, Web page titled "Farber, Barry", accessed September 17, 2006
  5. ^ Farber, Barry, Learn Any Language: Quickly, Easily, Inexpensively, Enjoyably, and on Your Own Time pp. 22–23, hereafter: Learn Any Language.
  6. ^ Learn any Language, pp. 25–26
  7. ^ a b c [3] Law, Keith, Web page titled "Interview with Barry Farber" dated April 6, 2005; accessed September 17, 2006.
  8. ^ Learn Any Language, Chapter: "A Life of Language Learning", subchapter "New Friends", page 32.
  9. ^ Learn Any LanguageIntroduction, page 4
  10. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-08-19. Retrieved 2006-09-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Talk Radio Network Web site, Web page titled "Barry Farber"; accessed September 17, 2006
  11. ^ a b [4] Talkers Magazine Web site, page titled "Talkers Magazine 9 Barry Farber"; accessed September 17, 2006.
  12. ^ "Vintage Toledo TV: TV Guide ads for WKBD". Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2011-07-11.
  13. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths FARBER, ULLA FAHRE". The New York Times. 1999-08-27.
  14. ^ "The Abzug-Farber Contest: Plenty of Color". The New York Times. 1970-10-30.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Mario Biaggi
Conservative Party nominee for Mayor of New York City
Succeeded by
John Esposito