After all, I'm just a guy from the Bronx, a journalist and community activist, but no famous name, no show business experience or connections. But what I seem to have is a talent for listening to talk-show panelists, forming strong reactions to what they're saying and expressing those feelings in ways that move and excite audiences.
So, some 300 talk shows later, I am applauded by producers for what one called "crisp, clear sound bites, which stir the pot and deliver ratings." Studio audiences cheer me on. Those viewing at home tell me, "We are yelling at the television set, and then you get up and speak for us."
When I confronted the Klan and black separatists and told them: "You are a racist, You are a bigot! You're a pig, you're a pig, and you're a pig! Burn yourselves in one big cross burning," people of all persuasions stopped to thank me. Sure it was outrageous, but it counterattacked those hate mongers. Decent people have had enough!
My comments may be outlandish to some But I care for the victim. I am not afraid to tell a rapist the best therapy for violating another human being is to cut the thing off.
Sure many of us think that, but how many of us would say it on national television? When I comforted a woman who had just lost her husband, I discussed openly what it was like to lose a mother and how she had to go one. My comments had an effect. Why? Because it was from a real person who was discussing death with someone who had gone through a similar experience.
Sure I'm opinionated, but I listen to each side and draw my own conclusion. I'm not a conservative or a liberal. Conservatives act as if they speak for God, while liberals are so processed they'll only do and say what's politically correct. I speak from the heart and use my common sense.
Yes, I know. When you mention television talk shows, a lot of people roll their eyes. They wonder how anyone could go on national television, speak their inner most problems and not even get paid. But we all watch. We cross every socio-economic, racial, political and educational barrier.
Sure, we all know the sensational topics, like "My husband had a sex change, so now we're lesbian lovers." But when we take a closer look, talk shows are much more.
Whether it be rape, incest, molestation, health reform or gun control – talk television is there. To cynics, those on the panel may be dysfunctional. But those who understand talk television appreciate the courage it takes to go on and discuss a problem.
Where do they come from? They are people with problems seeking advice, with no where else to turn. Like the woman who married a convicted rapist (I told her no one could understand her love for a man who had violated nine human beings). Or the Pennsylvania father who had an affair with his daughter's 14-year-old boyfriend (I told him he was a child molester).
Even Presidential candidates wind up on talk shows. Some may argue they do that because the questions are not as sophisticated or hard-hitting as those of journalists. Yet it affords real people the opportunity to ask questions and let their views be known.
I am glad to have been swept into this exciting game. To me, silence is not golden. Talk is.