FADE IN: EXT. AERIAL SHOT of SMALL ENCLAVE of TRENDY HOMES NEAR PASADENA, CA – MIDMORNING – ESTABLSHING Secluded community and windy streets that eventually connect. Lexus, Jaguars and BMW grace the driveways. INT. UPSTAIRS DEN – MIDMORNING
Well appointed couches and two desks adorn the walls while at the far end of the room is a microphone, headphones and console. Picking up the earphones is the attractive LESLIE MARSHALL, 32. There is an eerie quiet until we HEAR:
Good afternoon, Buffalo. Are you
ticked about this parking ticket blitz in
downtown Buffalo. I want you to call me;
I want you to share with me what’s got
you ticked off on Ticked Off Tuesday.
So let’s take your phone calls.
Leslie Marshall is a different broadcaster than I remembered from her brief stay at 570 KLAC when it was a talk station featuring Gil Gross and Michael Jackson. Leslie worked evenings, which meant that she had to dodge the LA Lakers basketball broadcasts many times during the NBA season. To determine when she was on, you’d check the Lakers schedule. These days, while waiting for a unique syndication deal, Leslie broadcasts live in Buffalo every morning from 9 a.m. to noon. Why Buffalo? Well, she’s been there before. In 1990, Leslie worked at WGR, which owned the local market, much like KFI does today in L.A. or KABC did two decades ago. “The show is on a 50K-watt station, heard in eight states and Canada,” said Leslie.
“Buffalo had never had a female talk show host before me. Even though people freak out now, and they always call it the liberal media, most talk stations have always been conservative,” reflected Leslie. “The majority of talk radio Peoples are conservative, and the majority of talk stations are more conservative by design. When dealing with liberals, people say, ‘Oh, we have a black, we have a Hispanic, we have a woman, and we have a liberal. And usually, they are one in the same.”
Consider what’s on talk radio today. Since the fairness doctrine got put on the shelf, the Rush Limbaugh-inspired radio has dominated market after market. Rush’s station in L.A., KFI, was #1 12+ earlier this year. Two years ago, Air America limped into the world of talk radio, underfinanced, and the group lost sight of the goal – to get Peoples. The AA network was more about agenda than it was about entertaining radio. Air America Radio recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. From time to time, a conservative-leaning station would hire someone like Leslie Marshall because not only was she liberal and female, she was darn good.
“When I went to Buffalo in the early ‘90s, I was hired to specifically take down Rush Limbaugh and I promised that I would, and to my surprise, I did. I beat him in the first book, and I continued to beat him,” remembered Leslie. “I became very fond of the people in Buffalo and people thought I was from there, but I worked there for only one year. At the end of that one year, they re-did my contract, which stated that if I tripled my ratings, they would triple my salary. Well, I tripled the ratings and all of sudden they couldn’t afford to keep me.”
I’m Leslie Marshall here on Buffalo’s
left channel AM 1520, a new voice, a
new choice. I wanna hear your voices on a
‘Ticked Off Tuesday.’ I am your host,
and think of me sort of like a Father in
the confessional without the male appendage.
Does Leslie consider herself a liberal? “I am liberal, but I’m not Michael Moore. I am more conservative fiscally and on certain criminal elements/issues.”
Leslie is married to an orthopedic surgeon. They met in an elevator 19 years ago in Miami. “We lived in the same apartment building, and how we met is actually a funny story. They were filming Miami Vice in my building, and my friend said to me, ‘Don Johnson is at the pool.’ At the time we were both little hotties, so we put on our bathing suits, did up our hair and make-up with the hope that we’d be extras or something. As we were going down the elevator, it stopped on a floor and this good-looking guy got on and he turned out to be my husband. But we didn’t even talk at the time. I thought he was gay because he didn’t look at us and we were in our bikinis and we were cute. So I thought, ‘He’s gotta be gay.’ He never looked at me, but it turned out he was just shy.”
Her husband was born in New York. His parents are from India. “He’s not political at all,” said Leslie. “I mean the joke is, ‘Honey, who am I voting for so I don’t sleep on the couch.’ He’s a democrat, not because I’m a democrat, but I definitely explain to him why I’m a democrat and what I believe that means. We talk about politics sometimes. For example, one night we were watching Cinderella Man. We had seen most of it on a plane but it ended before the end. So we kept saying we have to go rent it, so we did. My husband is five years younger than me, and he’s a doctor so he was into different subjects than I am. He really excelled in math and science where I was really into history and literature. Although he excelled in almost all of his studies, he just wasn’t into history. He really wasn’t aware of the impact of the depression – how the common person was affected, which was portrayed very well by Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger.”
Are you ticked at the police taking out
their lack of a pay raise on you,
the people. Maybe you’re ticked and
say, ‘Leslie, they’re just doing their
job.’ And I say, “Well, how come they
weren’t ticketing all of you and helping
businesses to go out of business for
the past years
The movie prompted a discussion about unions – AFTRA, SAG and Equity. “We just talked about that. So being a doctor, there’s always a threat of doctors unionizing. He’s not political, but being that his parents are Muslim, he gets angry like many people do. His parents are Muslim but he is not. You might ask how can that be? To me, religion is a choice, I don’t think you are born into a religion – you choose it. How can you be born into believing in God or Mohammad? And he gets angry when it’s always a reference to Muslim terrorists. If someone bombs an abortion clinic, we don’t call them Catholic terrorists, Christian terrorists, or Protestant terrorists. So that’s frustrating. But also frustrating to him are fanatics in any faith, Islam included, which is the fastest growing religion in the world.”
Leslie was born and raised in Boston. She went to college in Boston and wanted to be a tv anchorwoman. “And I know it’s a very shallow reason, but when you’re 18 years old, I just wanted to be on tv. I wanted to be a celebrity but I didn’t want to be a huge celebrity. I saw an anchorwoman at the supermarket once and nobody bothered her, plus you got free clothes.”
In doing research about the tv business, she learned that many of the people in television started out in radio. “So, I started out doing radio news, got my masters degree, this is all to become an anchorwoman. Then when I was in Miami, I always joked around that Jesus couldn’t perform miracles in Nazareth, and I had to leave Boston to get a job. I went to Miami because I wanted warm weather and I liked the Latin guys – and there were tons of them down there. I can speak Spanish.”
It was a requirement in her public school that she study another language. “I took Spanish because I liked the teacher and all the cool kids took Spanish. I wanted to be cool. So, I took Spanish and it was just helpful to get into the job in Miami, so I thought. But it really ended up having nothing to do with it. Then I got hired by John Harper at WNWS doing news and I was really enjoying it. I like the excitement of the news room and everything. And then one day in 1987, one of the talk show hosts got sick and my boss called and told me I would have to do his show and I said, ‘I can’t talk that much.’ He laughed and said, ‘Oh yes you can.’ And I said, ‘Well, in my personal life, but I’m used to 3 minutes at the top of the hour and a minute and a half at the bottom.’ And I did it.”
John Ritter was her first guest. “He was pre-booked for this man’s show already. I was having so much fun and I was thinking – and God forgive me for saying this – ‘I hope Jerry doesn’t get released from the hospital yet.’ Not that I wished him ill, y’know. I called my parents when I got off the air at 1 a.m. I told them I found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My father said, ‘Please be it accountant or teacher.’ I wanted to be an actress and then an anchorwoman and then I told them I wanted to be a talk show host.”
Her mother was thankful the late night call wasn’t an emergency. Nonetheless, her father still found his daughter’s wishes unsettling. Dad would have preferred something more stable. “They weren’t big talk radio fans,” remembered Leslie. “So, that’s how it happened.”
Tomorrow, Part 2 of Shuffle Off to Buffalo. Leslie is on the FOX News Channel every Wednesday morning at 7:20 a.m. She appears frequently on Hannity & Colmes, the O’Reilly Factor, Neil Cavuto, Joe Scarborough, Deborah Norville, and a number of other news programs.
She has appeared on Seventh Haven, NYPD Blue, Philly, Passions, General Hospital, Port Charles, What Should You Do? On Lifetime and Take Two: Living the Movies on USA. Leslie also has appeared in a few independent films and done six stage plays in Los Angeles. You can keep up with Leslie’s activities at www.LeslieMarshall.us