Leslie Marshall worked at KLAC when it was a talk station during 2001 – 02. She’s collected many experiences and stories from some of the major markets on her journey as a talk radio host. In 1992, she replaced Tom Snyder on the ABC Daynet Network. Now, frequently seen on cable news network shows, including a regular Wednesday morning appearance on FOX News Channel each week at 7:20 a.m., she broadcasts a daily three hour talk show to Buffalo from Los Angeles. Leslie’s story continues with Part 2 of ‘Shuffle Off to Buffalo.’
Despite her parents’ misgivings, Leslie’s program director saw something special in her and thought she’d be a great talk show host. “He believed in me before I knew what I wanted to do – even before I believed in myself. But from there, fill-in work came and then a weekend show and then a full-time show and I’ve never looked back.”
WNWS-Miami was a Jefferson-Pilot 50,000 watt station. A couple of years later the station flipped to Spanish. Leslie returned to the cold climate and got to Buffalo and worked the midday shift.
How political was her approach to talk radio? “I was very young. I wasn’t a democrat at the time,” recalled Leslie. “I really didn’t know the difference, honestly, between a democrat and a republican. Most of the people on talk radio were much older than I was – both the Peoples and the hosts, especially in south Florida. I would just talk about whatever interested me in the news and actually I still do, to a degree. There certainly is a level of responsibility if there is front page news. Can I make the phones ring over anything?”
But before what’s got me ticked off about,
let’s get to your phone calls, because this
is a caller-driven talk radio show. I believe
this is a true democracy, an open forum,
of, by and for you, the people.
Leslie believes she has a gift for gab and trusts her inner thermometer to know what topics will create People interest and light up the phones. “I want to generate what they’re talking about at the water cooler that’s sometimes not on the front page. Sometimes I will take a story from page 7 and make it front page in their minds,” said Leslie.
In Miami, she started doing weekend news and talk. She would do the early morning news and then talk. People started to complain that she was giving opinions and giving facts. They made her choose and the choice she made has guided her professional career ever since. Leslie said she chose talk because it paid more per hour than doing the news because she loved it. “It was both financial and my love for giving opinions over reporting the news,” said Leslie.
Then a year later Leslie was in Buffalo radio and on fire. Her ratings were soaring, but management didn’t live up to the compensation promises, so she lost her job. “When they let me go, they said, ‘Leslie’s a major market talent and we can’t keep her in Buffalo so we’re going to let her go.’ I was floored at the time, but in hindsight, that was part of my journey. Success is the best revenge, my grandfather used to tell me. So I try to do that, because I am human. All talk show hosts fantasize about burning down their boss’s house and anybody that tells you they don’t is lying. Howard Stern admitted that on 60 Minutes, but you don’t do it, obviously.”
So it was the first shuffle away from Buffalo and Leslie landed a job in Houston. How did she get to Houston? “When I left my job in Buffalo, I decided to try to get a job the same way I had when I got the job in Buffalo. I decided it was only going to be in a major market. Houston was 10th at the time – this is 1992 – and I just called every pd at every station in the Top Ten markets. Then they’d be like, ‘Send me a tape and call me next week.’ And I’m very diligent, anybody who knows me, knows that. If you say call me in 3 weeks, I will call you 21 days later.”
Let’s go to the callers on Ticked Off
Tuesday. I wanna know what’s got
you ticked off. And who knows, I might
even get to it. Let’s go to Joel in Buffalo
next. “Hi Joel, good afternoon and
welcome to AM 1520, what’s got you
ticked off on this Tuesday?
Leslie moved back to Boston and lived with her parents while she sent out tapes and made phone calls. From April of that year until August she pursued opportunities while others pursued her. “I was filling in at WTMJ in Milwaukee, WJNO-West Palm Beach, WPRO-Providence and WDBO-Orlando.”
“Orlando actually offered me a job to co-host mornings, but I wasn’t interested in the position for a few reasons. At the time, I didn’t want to work as a team. I always felt that women who were co-host in the morning – I’m not saying this now, this is then – and I say this so that no women will be offended by what I’m going to say, I didn’t want to be the rip and read, laugh and giggle girl, as I call it. You’ve got to remember; I had my own talk show in Miami and in Buffalo, there was a bit of ego involved. And then the money wasn’t very good. I knew I was gonna have to move, and it was going to have to be a major market. That was the main reason I didn’t go to Milwaukee, Providence, or Orlando.”
The station in Houston wanted to hire Leslie but vacillated for months because the person they wanted to let go was African-American, but eventually they did and the pd called Leslie. “So I asked him if he had somebody in mind’ – thinking he was going to put his weekend person on or move his night person – and he said, ‘Yeah.’ And I said, ‘Before you hire that person, let me pitch myself.’ And I’m going on and on and he’s laughing, and I’m getting very insulted by this. And I’m like, ‘What’s so funny?’ And he says, ‘Leslie, you’re the person that I have in mind.’ And I said, ‘Oh, I had no agent at the time. When are you going to decide?’ And he goes, ‘Well, I knew you’d call me every two weeks so I was waiting for you to call me, so I’m offering you the job.’ So he offered me the job, he offered me the money right there, and then I said to him, ‘Well, that’s exactly what I made in Buffalo.’ People always think, bigger market, bigger money, but that’s not always the case, y’know? And I said, ‘I know this is going to sound stupid, but this is the amount I had in my head and it has to be at least this amount – it has to be more than I made before because it’s a major market – and I need to go up from where I was…just a personal thing for me. He said, ‘Let me think about it.’ He called me back ten minutes later, and he said, ‘You got it!’”
When the deal was made with the Houston station, she was actually on the air in Milwaukee. Her shift ended, she jumped on a plane, went to Boston, jumped in the car with her mother and drove to Houston. (Leslie appearing on CNBC’s Kudlow & Company last night)
Leslie had never been to Houston, but she had her sights set on a top ten market. Her new radio was KPRC, a CBS station owned by the Hobby family – the same family name of one of the Houston airports. “And they were selling the station but I didn’t know that,” revealed Leslie. “And I took the job. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an agent that usually helps with protecting you in unforeseen situations.”
I actually think we talked about the casino
and my producers, correct me if I’m wrong,
I think we did it last week on TickedOff Tuesday.
The day before she left for Houston she got a call from New York offering her evenings in the national time slot before Tom Snyder. The pd of the New York station told her that he had heard that KPRC was going to be sold. Off to Houston and five months later she was offered a bigger syndication deal. What she didn’t know at the time of the original offer, she wasn’t going to take the slot in front of Snyder, she was instead replacing Snyder.
Tomorrow, part 3 of the Leslie Marshall journey – ‘Shuffle Off to Buffalo.’ Leslie is on the FOX News Channel every Wednesday morning at 7:20 a.m. She appears frequently on Kudlow & Company, Hannity & Colmes, the O’Reilly Factor, Neil Cavuto, Joe Scarborough, CNN Showbiz Tonite, Deborah Norville, and a number of other news programs.
She has appeared on Seventh Heaven, 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. You can reach Leslie at: firstname.lastname@example.org