Vox Populi

Bill O’Shaughnessy’s books run the risk of unfairly falling into the category of vanity publications. The Westchester County radio broadcaster, who is equally prominent as a political insider dating back to the Rockefeller era, is out with his latest tome titled VOX POPULI the O’Shaughnessy Files, Fordham University Press, 2011. His three previous anthologies are AirWAVES, It all Comes Back to Me Now and More Riffs, Rants and Raves.

Most who read Bill’s books go immediately to the index look for their name and quickly turn to those pages. There are very few names from the New York media, political and social elite that are missing!

Turning through this fourth O’Shaughnessy volume (not easy at 700 pages) it is best to go directly to the content, and discover that time spent with VOX POPULI will be very worthwhile indeed.  While O’ Shaughnessy is himself an excellent interviewer and he has made a great effort to make this publication exactly what the title implies, VOX POPULI ( The Voice of the People) with access through The O’Shaughnessy Files.( Thanks to Cindy Hall Gallagher, O’Shaughnessy’s right hand and the keeper of every detail for over thirty years)

Where else might you read THE UNDOING OF DON IMUS, (Page 5) written by Jonathan Bush, brother of President George W. Bush.  A DAUGHTERS LAST BREATH by Jimmy Breslin (page 554) will uplift you. BRUCE SNYDER  AT THE TWENTY-ONE CLUB about a special time and place.

Referencing Don Imus reminds me of the interview he did with Katherine Graham when she was introducing her own book Personal History.  O’Shaughnessy’s 2004 interview in VOX POPULI with Marian Javits, wife of Senator Jacob Javits, (Page 230) earns a place in the same category of excellence as the Graham interview.  The conversation is just one example of Bill’s ability to place his guests at ease and despite a few cream puff questions, his relaxed style encourages openness. If you had heard the audio of this interview on WVIP-WVOX you recognize that O’Shaughnessy’s approach is not dissimilar to that of Larry King.  

Bill O’Shaughnessy is a great friend of Governor Mario Cuomo. VOX POPULI shares some of Cuomo’s marvelous speeches made at occasions where Bill personally invited him. An example of an O’Shaughnessy- Cuomo pulpit was the one-hundredth-anniversary of the Dutch Treat Club on October 5, 2004 in New York City.  Regardless of your political persuasion, the remarks made there (Page 415) typify Governor Cuomo at his passionate best.  Also, “REASON TO BELIEVE.” LIFE LESSONS-MARIO CUOMO AT THE 92nd  STREET Y, January 25, 2010. It is still being rebroadcast on Public Television.

VOX POPULI is abundant with O’Shaughnessy writings and musings about the famous. However, Bill is often at his very best when focusing upon the less known.  MAMA ROSE MIGLIUCCI “The First Lady of Little Italy” (Page 524) is an excellent example of O’Shaughnessy empathy. His eulogy to “Mama Rose” of the famous Mario’s restaurant in the Bronx is extraordinary in its warmth and understanding of both his personal and the community’s feelings for this remarkable and legendary woman. Another piece falling in this same category is COMPOSER-SONGWRITER-SALOON SINGER: MURRAY GRAND AT EIGHTY-FIVE (Page 213).  Who but O’Shaughnessy would prepare this essay and interview?  I am not sure.

Mount St. Mary’s College is not among the country’s most prominent but on the day O’Shaughnessy delivered its 46th commencement address, he placed it and its graduates among the most special in the nation. (Page 364)

Two writings in VOX POPULI are among the most insightful. The first is Bill’s eulogy to Nancy O’Shaughnessy’s twenty-two year-old son Michael at St. Pius X Church in Scarsdale, New York on January 29, 2005. (Page 499). The remarks of Father John O’Brien (Page 504) for Michael Pasquale which followed Bill’s eulogy on that same sad occasion are worthy of every parent’s eyes. 

VOX POPULI indeed focuses a spotlight on Bill O’Shaughnessy’s writings but do yourself a favor and take advantage of the author’s generosity in sharing many of his radio interviews and the heretofore-unpublished works from his enormous community of friends. If you have the time, the new volume will stimulate your desire to page back through his previous three.

VOX POPULI the book shares the same ethos and namesake as O’Shaughnessy’s radio stations WVOX and WVIP. The coupling of the two is no surprise

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