Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

A WINTER’S TALE OF
FATHERS AND SONS

When Rob Taishoff called to tell me his father, Larry Taishoff, had died, my mind drifted back to a New York afternoon long ago.

I was supposed to be “on assignment”—read: selling radio ads— for John Van Buren Sullivan, the majordomo of the fabled WNEW. Instead, I had somehow found my way to a barstool at the esteemed establishment owned by the late Bernard “Toots” Shor on 52nd Street in Manhattan.

On this particular day, this glorious saloon was also hosting the writers Bob Considine and Jimmy Cannon; Ford Frick, the former commissioner of major league baseball; and General Omar Bradley.

The talk turned to the son of James A. Farley, Franklin Roosevelt’s postmaster general, who had somehow failed to appear on time for a dinner date the night before with his legendary father, an icon of the Republic.

Toots, one of the greatest barroom philosophers of his day, opined, “Great men rarely have great sons.” We all nodded approvingly at this stunning wisdom. And promptly ordered another round.

It’s a nice adage. But Toots Shor never knew Sol Taishoff or his son, Larry. They were both great men, and all of us in broadcasting owe them a tremendous debt.

Larry and his father served as our sentinels on the Potomac, preventing government intrusion into electronic journalism. They kept the drumbeat going for fifty years in Broadcasting magazine.

This “Magazine of the Fifth Estate,” as they called it, appeared every Monday morning with articles fashioned by Don West, Harry Jessell, and John Eggerton, who shared the Taishoff family’s fierce devotion to the First Amendment, which has been described by Jack Valenti as “the most important document ever struck off by the hand of man.”

During their stewardship, the words in Broadcasting would sing out from the pages and be quoted in the halls of Congress, at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and in the White

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