One of Us: Marty Moss-Coane of WHYY’s Radio Times

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Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … Marty Moss-Coane, with a hyphen. I was a Marjorie, named for my grandmother. And I was a Marge or Margie until I was 10, when I said I was not going to be called that for the rest of my life. People went along with Marty. I was a bit of a tomboy, so that helped.

I grew up … in rural Massachusetts and rural Delaware in the ’50s and ’60s. I’m that old. And I grew up on boarding-school campuses, because my father was a teacher and then headmaster of a boarding school. You’ve seen Dead Poets Society, right? That was the campus I grew up on.

I came to Philadelphia … in 1969, when I dropped out of George Washington University. I had some friends in West Philadelphia who had an extra room.

If I weren’t doing this … I would be an elementary-school teacher in a Philadelphia public school with a good principal.

I live … in Bucks County, in a little Victorian with a wraparound porch.

One song I always turn up as loud as I can … is Gogol Bordello’s “Start Wearing Purple.” I love the gypsy punk sound. There’s just something about it. I saw them live, and I now have tinnitus. I blame it on them.

The thing most people don’t understand about my job … is how much homework is involved. Two hours live every day, five days a week — 10 hours a week. There’s a lot of preparation for what happens on the air. Since I never did my homework in high school, it’s my lot in life to do it now, as an adult.

My parents taught me … different things. My mom was an incredible listener. She had what we called “excessive attention disorder.” She paid hyper-attention to everything. And my dad had a great love for life.

If you come to my house for dinner … we will probably start the meal with soup. I’m a really good soup maker.

My first concert ever … was in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1970. It was Carole King and James Taylor. I was in Atlanta because as part of my dropping-out-of-college years, some friends and I had started a cooperatively run macrobiotic vegetarian restaurant. These days, I’m mostly vegetarian, although I sneak a piece of steak a few times a year. And fish. And hot dogs, because it’s not really meat. God knows what a hot dog really is.

One habit I cannot break is … biting my fingernails. It’s embarrassing. But I think I secretly enjoy it.

I think that Facebook … is losing its luster. Seemed like it was going to be more fun than it is.

When I arrived in Philadelphia, the city was … so drab. It is so much more colorful, younger, hipper and more fun now. I don’t even know what we did on the weekends back then.

If you really want to piss me off … run a red light when I’m trying to cross the street. It happens every day.

My favorite interviews on Radio Times have been … Christopher Hitchens, Salman Rushdie, James McBride, Maurice Sendak, and an Indian writer named Sherman Alexie. Interesting that they’re all men.

This summer, I hope to … play more tennis. My game is pretty good. I play a few times a week. But not nearly enough for my taste.

My secret talent … is that I’m a really good liar. I don’t do it every day, but I can use it very strategically.

I will do this until … I can’t remember important, everyday things.

Originally published as “One of Us: Marty Moss-Coane” in the June 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Michael Smerconish Writes Novel, Has Pillows with His Own Silhouette On Them

The Washington Post returns to the main line in Friday’s paper with a profile of Michael Smerconish.

Smerconish was once seen as a rising star in conservative radio; George W. Bush even called in to Smerconish’s show on election night in 2000. But as Bush’s popularity plummeted in his second term and right-wing talk radio lurched rightward in the mid-2000s, Smerconish’s more-nuanced takes fell a bit out of favor. He says he was pressured to get more right-wing — but wanted to continue to be a conservative moderate. Smerconish also, notably, says refused to take ads for gold-selling businesses, a recent staple of conservative radio.

Now he’s on satellite radio, and says he has “put [his] livelihood on the line” to show that moderate punditry does have an audience and … why am I bothering to recap these things, let’s talk about his pillows:

“I’m the referendum, aren’t I?” he says on the patio of his spacious home in swanky Villanova, Pa., his arm draped across a pillow bearing the outline of his signature bald head.

Do you think the Smerconish bald head logo was originally created by doing a silhouette cutout using a flashlight and his shadow? I hope so.

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