Richard was born in Far Rockaway, Queens, New York to a Jewish father and an Irish Catholic mother and attended Far Rockaway High School. Prior to The Richard Bey Show, Richard hosted ‘People Are Talking’ (telecast in New York City and Philadelphia) and ‘2 On the Town’ for WCBS-TV. He is an alumnus of the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Yale School of Drama. The show was called “9 Broadcast Plaza” in its early years before changing its name to “The Richard Bey Show”.
The Richard Bey Show
The Richard Bey Show (1987–1996) was produced from WWOR-TV in Secaucus, New Jersey and later syndicated across the country from All American Television. It featured such competitive events as the “Miss Big Butt” contest, the “Mr. Puniverse” contest, “Dysfunctional Family Feud” and “Blacks who think O.J. is guilty vs. Whites who think he is innocent.” The show made frequent use of sound effects like “uh-duh” for an inane response, “I’ve been framed” for a guest proclaiming innocence and “You’re busted!” for one accused of wrongdoing. Richard would often exclaim “Where do they find these people?!” in the presence of unbelievable guests or audience members. During some shows, there would be a secret word, and if an audience member used it in a comment, he would receive $100 (an homage to a prior talk and game show, You Bet Your Life). A joking suggestion was then made on how to spend it: “Lobster dinner tonight!”
The show was a precursor to reality television, featuring a variety of games incorporating guests’ stories, most notoriously “The Wheel of Torture”, in which a guest would be strapped to a spinning wheel while a spouse or lover poured slime on them as punishment for a misdeed. The show was executive produced by Bob Woodruff and David Sittenfeld.
Richard would frequently make fun of Jerry Springer on his show, such as when he lost his contact lenses and was forced to wear eyeglasses, remarking, “Don’t worry, you’re not watching Jerry Springer” and showing Jerry in his “Bad Neighbors” segment, a reference to Springer’s show being the lead-in or lead-out to Bey on many stations in the early-to-mid 1990s. He would also make light of Ricki Lake, Rosie O’Donnell, Phil Donahue, and Oprah Winfrey’s shows. Richard also hosted a prime time show called “Night Games”. It was short-lived but ran around the time his daytime show was at its peak. It ran after 10 o’clock and was a little more gratuitous, mostly sexually clad women engaged in contests.
Richard claimed his TV show was canceled in December 1996 (despite the high ratings it maintained) as a direct result of doing a program with Gennifer Flowers, discussing her sexual relationship with then President Bill Clinton.
A scene from the film Brüno depicts the filming of an episode of a fictional variation on the show called Today with Richard Bey. The production team, along with Bey, set up the program to invite an unsuspecting audience to participate in a segment where Brüno (Sacha Baron Cohen) appears as a guest, talking about his adopted son who is black. In response to questions from the audience, Brüno reveals that he gave his son the “traditional African name” O.J. and claims that he “swapped” his son for an iPod. The predominantly black audience becomes outraged over Brüno’s responses.
After the TV show was taken out of production, Richard was an evening and later afternoon radio co-host along with Steve Malzberg on “The Buzz”, which aired on New York’s WABC from 2000 to 2003. According to the New York Post, he was one of only two talk hosts at the time on commercial New York radio to openly oppose the Iraq War, contesting the WMD evidence. He has since hosted on Sirius Satellite Radio, The Bill Press Show, and for the syndicated Wall Street Journal: This Morning. Richard hosted for a week on WXRK 92.3 FM from February 5 to February 9, 2007 from 10:00 PM to midnight. He regularly fills in for Lynn Samuels and Alex Bennett on the Sirius Satellite Radio channel Talk Left when they go on vacation or take a day off.
In August 2007, Richard began hosting a new show on WWRL in New York City from 8-10 PM. In November 2007, he was teamed up with Mark Riley and moved to the morning drive, replacing the team of Sam Greenfield and Armstrong Williams.
In March 2008, family reasons caused Mark Riley to leave WWRL by mutual agreement to return to WLIB, and Richard was teamed up with long time broadcaster Coz Carson. Bey later decided to leave WWRL himself, citing personal reasons (namely spending time with his son). In July 2009, he appeared daily on internet TV station UBA-TV which aired at 12:00 PM until 1:00 PM.
This was the second of two promotional videos sent out to show why The Richard Bey Show would be a good addition to a station’s lineup. Along with commentary from Richard, the video includes numerous “best of” moments from the show.