Who was David Brudnoy?
David Brudnoy was an American talk radio host, famous for his ‘The David Brudnoy Show’ which aired on WBZ-AM station. After completing his education and obtaining his doctorate, he started his career as a broadcast commentator. Gradually his talent received recognition and he became the host of a radio talk show named after him. The show was an immediate success and he was much appreciated for his presentation and the manner in which he conducted talks with people from different strata of society. He was a self-described libertarian who expressed his conservative perspective with wit and thoughtfulness. His considerate way of discussing issues helped him gain a large following. Later in life, after having faced a near-death situation, lying in a coma for nine days, he revealed publicly for the first time that he had AIDS and the fact that he was a homosexual. Apart from being a brilliant radio host, he also served as an educator at different universities. After reviving his health, he established a fund for AIDS research and also wrote his autobiography. Later he was diagnosed with a type of skin cancer and passed away after a long illness. He is remembered as an iconoclastic, urbane radio talk show host whose thoughtful treatment of politics and culture made him one of New England's most listened-to radio personalities for nearly three decades.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on June 5, 1940 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Harry Brudnoy, a dentist, and his wife, Doris Brudnoy, a homemaker. His parents belonged to the Jewish community and he was their only child.
During his early years the family resided in Macon, Georgia and San Antonio, Texas for brief periods of time while his father served in the Army Reserves. Later he moved to New England to pursue his graduate studies.
In 1958, he started attending college and obtained his Bachelor in Arts degree from the Yale University in New Haven. At Yale, he remained active in American Field Service and was also a member of the George Orwell Forum, the Young Democrats and the Criterion Board.
Later on he earned a master’s degree from the Harvard University in Far Eastern Studies. In 1971, he obtained his doctorate from the Brandeis University, focusing on East Asian studies and history.
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In 1971, he auditioned for the position of a broadcast commentator at WGBH, Boston's public television station, and was hired. In 1976, he took over as the host of his friend Avi Nelson's radio show on WHDH.
From 1981 to 1986, he worked for WRKO before moving to WBZ-AM radio station. At WBZ-AM, he became the host of his own show, New England's most listened to radio talk program, ‘The David Brudnoy Show’, which he served in until his death.
After he was diagnosed with AIDS, he aired the show from his apartment. Upon his return to the air after the treatment, he announced the establishment of a fund to fight AIDS and also published his autobiography titled ‘Life is not a Rehearsal’, in 1997.
In addition to being a radio talk show host, he also appeared as a news commentator and host on local TV stations including WCVB-TV (ABC), WNAC-TV, and WBZ-TV (CBS). He was also a leading film critic and wrote movie reviews for Boston magazine and local community newspapers. His articles have appeared in ‘The New York Times’, ‘The New Republic’, and the ‘Saturday Evening Post’.
As a professor or guest lecturer, he took classes at many major colleges and universities including Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern University, Merrimack College, University of Rhode Island, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and Texas Southern University.
Awards & Achievements
In 1996, he was conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by Emerson College.
In 1997, he received the ‘Freedom of Speech Award’ from the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts. The same year, he was nominated for the ‘Personality of the Year’ Marconi Award.
Personal Life & Legacy
At an early age he realized his homosexuality but felt too hesitant to disclose it. Later in life, he went on to live with a single mother, Patricia Kennedy, whom he used as a cover for his sexual orientation and in return, served as a surrogate father to her two young children.
One of his closest and oldest friends was psychologist Dr. Ward Cromer, with whom he took dozens of trips abroad. Although they never answered the speculations about their true relationship, Cromer was assumed by many to be his sexual partner.
In 1988, he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS but he kept it a secret for several years. In 1994, he went into a coma for nine days but later returned to reasonable health. While fighting the disease, he disclosed the truth about his homosexuality and the illness he was suffering from to his parents.
In 2003, he was diagnosed with Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare form of skin cancer. After initial hospitalization and treatment, he returned to work, with a strained voice, in March 2004.
Later on, doctors discovered that the cancer had spread into his lungs and kidneys. He was forced to undergo dialysis in addition to cancer treatment and after being admitted to hospital for several days, he died on December 9, 2004.