Radio: Talk Man

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Get it off your chest—Be hostile! Talk back to Brad Crandall, say the ads. And when they talk to Brad, people sometimes get so excited that they produce dialogue of spectacular improbability. "My father," shouted one man last week, "was not a black woman." No one could rebut that. But WNBC's Brad Crandall is ready to debate just about everything else on his nightly radio show. Anyone can call him up and exchange opinions on everything from civil rights to seat belts.

Puzzled Spacemen. Crandall has been doing this from 7:45 until midnight for a month. He got the job because WNBC was flopping on the bottom of the New York radio ratings barrel. Noting that RKO's WOR had long held top position by putting on talk shows around the clock, WNBC decided to do the same—with Brad Crandall doing most of the talking.

Though he is only 36, Crandall wears a sapient beard and looks like a keg with hair. When he opens his mouth, one expects to hear Tosca in native Italian. But Crandall was born in Kansas, went to Millsaps College in Mississippi, one of the better small colleges in the South. He worked as an announcer on half a dozen radio stations before going into the now-widespread talk-to-the-listeners game on CKEY in Toronto four years ago.

If he sometimes sounds like a pontifex maximus, he generally talks neither down nor with false humility. On a typical evening last week, a caller asked Brad's views on states' rights. "A valid issue 10% of the time," he answered. "A smoke screen the rest of the time." Another caller said he was worried by the thought of Unidentified Flying Objects darting about in the atmosphere.

"These little people are up there watching us," the caller whined. "How do you know they're little?" said Crandall. He went on to tell the fellow not to worry, because the beings in the saucers had never shown hostility and were "probably still trying to figure out whether we're intelligent or not."

Liberal Realist. Crandall is an arbiter as well as an oracle. Many callers attack earlier callers. One last week referred to another as "that insignificant punk with the molecule brain." Crandall tries, usually with success, to filter out the emotion and get the people on the other end of the wire to come to terms with themselves and say what they really think. "Once you get past that facade," he says, "you get to the real honest human being who is bugged by something, and you must help him see what it really is that is bugging him."

Naturally, a high percentage of Crandall's calls have to do with integration, pro and con. He never hesitates. "Madam, you are a bigot," he barked at one caller. Last week he took on several waves of Negroes who were all for the stall-in scheme at the New York World's Fair. He said that sort of demonstration was "going too far, hitting the wrong people at the wrong time." In argument with a Negro girl last week, he asked: "Do you want me to accept you as an individual?"

"Yes," she said.

"Well then, damn it," said Crandall, "you accept me."

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