William O’Shaughnessy: Westchester’s Radio Renaissance Man
A 75-year-old author, personality, and raconteur who plans to keep on talkin’
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William O’Shaughnessy is sifting though a pile of photos and notes from his recent 75th birthday celebration at Le Cirque. He pulls out a lovely note of thanks from TV host Deborah Norville and then another from Jonathan Bush gushing about how fabulous the party was. Bush, the brother of President George H and Uncle of George W, wrote that O’Shaughnessy has been “a great friend to a lot of people and a great supporter of important causes.”
One of those “causes" included giving Bush’s son, Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush, his very first broad-casting job.
O’Shaughnessy is almost an iconic figure in the world of Westchester broadcasting. In the past 50 years, he has given voice to nearly every topic under the sun as the president and editorial director of WVOX and WVIP—two of the last few independent radio stations in the metropolitan area. From an interview with a Franciscan friar discussing the meaning of charity and Pope Francis to a weekly broadcast about heavy-metal music hosted by his eldest son, Matthew, O’Shaughnessy has continued to deliver what Daily News TV critic and entertainment columnist David Hinckley describes as a “glorious hodgepodge.” That hodgepodge includes listener-produced programming that O’Shaughnessy believes is part of his ongoing mandate.
“I am an instrument of communication,” he explains.
“I think you can build up a community and make it better through radio. In Mario’s words, you can make it ‘sweeter.’”
Mario is Mario Cuomo. Even though he is a self-described Rockefeller Republican, O’Shaughnessy is perhaps the former governor’s greatest fan. His office is sprinkled with photographs of himself with Cuomo and he even has the governor’s old “1” license plate from when he was in office, framed on his wall (he also has Nelson Rockefeller’s “1” plate). “In all the years I have been in this business and of all the people I have met and interviewed, Mario is the most compelling,” O’Shaughnessy says. “Kenneth Woodward wrote that, `Cuomo never gave a speech that did not glisten with the sweat of moral conviction.’” He laughs. “That’s pretty heavy s*** to lie at the feet of Andrew Cuomo.”
Still, O’Shaughnessy thinks New York’s current governor will one day be president of the United States and adds that he and Cuomo Sr. plan to stick around long enough to see it. “I think Andrew has the equipment and brightness to be a great president. There is an innate goodness and decency in him.”