In her nightly talk radio stint, one lasting a solid several years, Joan Rivers proved herself as way more than simply a comedienne, by way of interviews and open-phones. I had the distinct opportunity to work with Joan both on and off the air at times, and at no time did this heritage, legendary entertainer ever distance herself from those she worked with, neither in attitude nor performance. While Joan may have been fairly new to radio, what she did know was that to embrace the efforts of any co-worker or co-performer was to inspire them to create the best act possible.
In one of her not-uncommon improv situations, after an interoffice snack-theft reprimand note made it's way around, she opted to mine some humor and "cross-examine" some producers on the air. I was invited and could not see myself as a mere straight man in Joan's presence. Following two other tepid interrogations, I sat in while Joan went through the litany of accusations, ending in "how do you plead..?". After a golf-match sized silence, I chirped..."Have you seen those Oscar nominations...?" Her sidekicks roared and Joan laughed just as hard, recognizing someone who could volley comedy. I was unknown to her and shared her spotlight, but she was uncommonly receptive in the interest of her act, where no egos can interfere. Meanwhile I think she got to know me as kind of an unofficial go-to if a situation needed a good blast. Her producer sure did.
One time Joan spent an hour interviewing a pair of professional dominatrix women. It brought a WOR dignity to perhaps the unlikeliest topic, but as I saw it, a thriving one and probably one capturing a good many listeners at 7pm. Her producer urged me to phone in with some sort of question, so using a surname, I phoned in, and as Joan welcomed me into this bizarre but tasteful discussion of dominatrix activity, I said "Joan, wonderful interview tonight, so very, very informative...". The question was irrelevant but that opening line may have stopped the show.
Her radio career, in a world of celebrities-turned-radio-hosts, proved Joan to be a cut above, but no less than the consummate entertainer with whom we have connected for decades.
From Noah Fleischman,
WOR Producer / Board Operator, who worked with Joan during her WOR hosting tenure
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