Palm Beach Post - Cable TV/Radio Talk Show Host Gets Celebs to Share Details of Lives

Cable TV/Radio Talk Show Host Gets Celebs to Share Details of Lives

Palm Beach Post

February 25, 2004
SECTION: Neighborhood Post

By Stephanie Slater, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer.

To get to know radio personality Arlene Herson, take a look at the pictures on a wall taking up a good 10-square feet in her Boca Raton home office.

There she is with Peter, Paul and Mary in Mary's apartment; with Don King in his New York office; with Suzanne Somers, Chuck Norris, Johnny Mathis, Dionne Warwick; sitting on Perry Como's lap.

Not bad for a woman who never planned on becoming a professional broadcaster. But she has been for 25 years.

In a still syndicated cable television talk show that ran from 1978-1991, she got Sammy Davis Jr. to tell her he contemplated suicide. Linda Evans admitted she only saw herself "through the eyes of a man." Mel Torme shared his life story, just weeks before his death. Herson produced, wrote, researched, booked talent and got sponsorship for the show, which now can be seen on Boca Raton Educational Television and Manhattan Cable Television.

Sounds like she knows what she's doing. She says it all happened by accident. With no college degree or formal training, the New York native landed her first professional job at the public relations firm of William Safire, former Richard Nixon speechwriter turned New York Times columnist. Barbara Walters was a co-worker. Walters and the late lawyer Roy Cohn indirectly introduced her to her husband, Milton Herson.

"They set me up with a lawyer who was Milton's neighbor," said Herson, who has two children and three grandchildren. "The night I became engaged, I met Milton. We went out after I called off my engagement."

She left the firm and big city life for suburban Rumson, N.J., when Milton Herson's company bought a chain of motion picture theaters. But by the second year of playing tennis and doing charity work, she had had enough.

Herson got a job selling advertising and writing a social column for the local newspaper. A conversation over cocktails led to her next career. Joseph Frankel, then mayor of Eatontown, N.J., suggested she do something on cable television.

The pilot episode of Getting to Know You with Arlene Herson was an interview with her husband. A chat with movie producer and Rumson resident Fred Caruso followed. Before long, Herson graduated from area personalities and politicos to high-profile celebs.

Live broadcasts of her show ceased when former President George Bush appointed her husband commissioner of public buildings in the General Services Administration in Washington. A new city meant a new opportunity. She found work writing profiles for The Hill newspaper and Dan's Papers in East Hampton, N.Y.. A self-proclaimed political junkie, the staunch Republican also produced the musical 1776, casting members of Congress as the founding fathers. Movie star turned senator turned Law & Order star Fred Thompson played John Hancock.

Herson now does celebrity interviews for American Senior Side, a radio show hosted by Chuck "Skipper Chuck" Zink on WXEL 90.7 FM. She sits on the Florida Film & Entertainment Advisory Council and Florida Bar Grievance Committee and is a member of the Board of Directors of Boca Raton Educational Television.

"Local cable TV, that's how I got my start," she said. "I've gone on to do amazing things. I feel very strongly that we have this available to people in Boca Raton."

American Senior Side can be heard on WXEL 90.7 FM Sundays from 11 a.m. to noon. The Arlene Herson Show airs Mondays at 8:30 p.m. and Fridays at 6 p.m. on BRET, Adelphia channel 98.