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Laura Catherine Schlessinger

American talk radio host, socially conservative commentator and author. Her radio program consists mainly of her responses to callers' requests for personal advice and has occasionally featured her short monologues on social and political topics. Her website says that her show "preaches, teaches, and nags about morals, values and ethics"

Background

  • Schlessinger was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Brooklyn and on Long Island. Her parents were Monroe "Monty" Schlessinger, a civil engineer who was Jewish, and Yolanda (Ceccovini) Schlessinger, an Italian Catholic war bride. Schlessinger has said her father was charming and her mother beautiful as a young woman. She has a sister, Cindy, who is 11 years her junior. Schlessinger has described her childhood environment as unloving and unpleasant, and her family as dysfunctional. She has ascribed some of the difficulty to extended family rejection of her parents' mixed faith Jewish-Catholic marriage. Schlessinger said her father was "petty, insensitive, mean, thoughtless, demeaning and downright unloving". She described her mother as a person with "pathological pride", who "was never grateful", who "would always find something to criticize," and who "constantly expressed disdain for men, sex and love". She credited her father with giving her the drive to succeed

  • Career

    • Schlessinger's first appearance on radio was in 1975 when she called in to a KABC show hosted by Bill Ballance. Impressed by her quick wit and sense of humor, Ballance began featuring her in a weekly segment.Schlessinger's stint on Ballance's show led to her own shows on a series of small radio stations. By 1979 she was on the air Sunday evenings from 9:00 to midnight on KWIZ in Santa Ana, California. That year, the Los Angeles Times described her show as dealing with all types of emotional problems, "though sex therapy is the show's major focus".

      In the late 1980s, Schlessinger was filling in for Barbara De Angelis' noon-time relationship-oriented talk show in Los Angeles on KFI,while working weekends at KGIL in San Fernando. Her big break came when Sally Jessy Raphael began working at ABC Radio, and Maurice Tunick, former Vice-President of Talk Programming for the ABC Radio Networks, needed a regular sub for Raphael's evening personal advice show. Tunick chose Schlessinger to fill in for Raphael.\The Dr. Laura Program was the second-highest-rated radio show after The Rush Limbaugh Show, and was heard on more than 450 radio stations.

      n May 2002, the show still had an audience of more than 10 million, but had lost several million listeners in the previous two years as it was dropped by WABC and other affiliates, and was moved from day to night in cities such as Seattle and Boston. These losses were attributed in part to Schlessinger's shift from giving relationship advice to lecturing on morality and conservative politics. Pressure from gay rights groups caused dozens of sponsors to drop the radio show as well.

      The credibility of Schlessinger's television program suffered during its first month when the New York Post reported that Schlessinger had used show staff to falsely pose as guests on the show. A September 25, 2000, episode named "Readin', Writin', and Cheatin'" featured a so-called college student who specialized in professional note-taking. On the next day's show, "Getting to the Altar," the same guest appeared in different hair and makeup and said she was a woman living with her boyfriend. In fact, the woman was San-D Duchas, a researcher for the show whose name appeared in the closing credits of the shows on which she posed as a guest.Apparently, Schlessinger was unaware of this incident until it was disclosed by the Post, and immediately put a stop to any further use of this practice.

      By November 2000, advertisers that had committed to Schlessinger's show had pulled their support due to plummeting ratings. CBS was displeased enough with the ratings that it began looking to either drop the series or move it to late night slots on its stations within two months of its premiere.Other stations outside of CBS did the same thing, while others moved it to weaker sister stations. Dr. Laura aired its last first-run episode on March 30, 2001 on the stations that continued to air it, with reruns continuing until September 2001.

      In 2004, Schlessinger said that although there is more money and celebrity in television, it is not as meaningful or intimate as radio, and for her television was a "terrible experience

    Religion

    Schlessinger was non-religious until she and her son began practicing Conservative Judaism in 1996.In 1998, Schlessinger, Bishop, and their son converted to Orthodox Judaism, and began instruction under Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka of Ottawa, Canada. During this time, Schlessinger sometimes used Jewish law and examples to advise her callers about their moral dilemmas. She occasionally clarified ethical and moral issues with her local Orthodox Rabbi Moshe D. Bryski, before mentioning them on the air. She was embraced by many in the politically conservative segment of Orthodox Judaism for bringing more awareness of Orthodoxy to her radio show. Some of her expressed views were explicitly religious and are referenced her 1999 book The Ten Commandments: The Significance of God's Laws in Everyday Life. Although her other books have stressed the importance of morality, they are more secular in nature.

    In July 2003, Schlessinger announced on her show that she was no longer an Orthodox Jew, but that she was still Jewish

    Views

    Quotations: In 1998, Schlessinger was in a Costa Mesa surf shop with her son when she began perusing the skateboarding magazine, Big Brother. On her radio program, Schlessinger declared the magazine to be "stealth pornography." When the owner of the store publicly denied that she found pornography in his store, Schlessinger sued him for lying, claiming that his denial had hurt her reputation.When the case went to court, the judge dismissed her suit, but the shop owner's $4 million defamation countersuit lodged for hurting the reputation of his store was allowed to stand. The suit has since been settled, but the terms of the settlement have not been revealed

    n 1998, Schlessinger's early radio mentor, Bill Ballance, sold nude photos that he had taken of Schlessinger in the mid-1970s to a company specializing in internet porn. The photos were taken while Schlessinger was involved in a brief affair with then-married Bill Ballance. Schlessinger sued after the photos were posted on the internet, claiming invasion of privacy and copyright violation. The court ruled that Schlessinger did not own the rights to the photos; she did not appeal the ruling. She told her radio audience that she was embarrassed, but that the photos were taken when she was going through a divorce and had "no moral authority."

    Personality

    Schlessinger used to combine her local radio career with a private practice as a marriage and family counselor, but after going into national syndication, she concentrated her efforts on the daily The Dr. Laura Program, and on writing self-help books. The books Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives, and The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands are among her bestselling works. A short-lived television talk show hosted by Schlessinger was launched in 2000. In August 2010, she announced that she would end her syndicated radio show in December 2010

    Laura Schlessinger
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    Born January 16, 1947
    (age 70)
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    Edgar Dudko

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