HOT SEAT- Being Coy: If TJ had done talk radio
Coy Barefoot seemed to have it made as a writer after publishing five books and with offers to write more. So what did he do? Took a job at the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership.
For the author of Thomas Jefferson on Leadership, it was a natural segue.
And as if his plate as communications and alumni relations director there weren't full enough, he's about to launch a drive-time local talk show on WINA March 1.
What's with all the careers, dude?
"It's an incredible opportunity to be part of something exciting," says Barefoot with the maddening enthusiasm of someone who loves what he does.
The new show, Charlottesville, Right Now, was conceived last summer when Barefoot worked the morning show on WINA. "I had so much fun," he says. "It was like WKRP in Cincinnati."
The Charlottesville Radio Group, which carries the right-leaning syndicated shows of Neil Boortz and Sean Hannity, wanted to create more local talk, according to Barefoot.
"Number one, the ratings of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are plummeting, and number two, they see [the new show] as a true community service with local issues and local talk," he says. As the new host and producer of Charlottesville, Right Now, Barefoot will take over Hannity's 4-6pm time slot.
Barefoot's vision of talk radio does not include screaming. "That ends right now," he declares. "We have a whole generation fed up with that. All it's done is polarize."
He decries ad hominem attacks upon people who disagree, and instead proposes a novel concept: "civility and respect."
As jazzed as Barefoot is about his radio show, he's equally pumped about his Sorensen duties.
"It's incredibly Jeffersonian," he explains of the Institute's mission. "Jefferson said that if you don't get involved and you don't care, it won't work... The Sorensen Institute is all about getting people involved."
His first day on the job, he was hanging with Governor Mark Warner, and the connections he's made through the Institute have already helped to snag Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General Bob McDonnell for his show once a month.
"I'm the luckiest man in Charlottesville," says Barefoot. "I had the best job in town– and now I have the two best jobs in town."
Why here? I came for grad school in 1989 and minus a few years in Florida and New York, I've been here ever since.
What's worst about living here?No drive-thru Chinese food
Favorite hangout? The Corner
Most overrated virtue? Correct grammar
People would be surprised to know: I don't fly. I used to fly quite a bit but had one too many scary trips, and then I watched my brother and his wife survive a single-engine crash.
What would you change about yourself? More Zen
Proudest accomplishment? My book, The Corner: A History of Student Life at the University of Virginia. The six years I spent researching and writing that book were a true labor of love, and I met many wonderful people in the process.
People find most annoying about you: I'm the Aries poster-boy: impatient and stubborn (but on the flip-side: enthusiastic and confident).
Whom do you admire? My son, Whitman
Favorite book? The triumvirate at the top of my list are Dubliners by James Joyce, The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor, and Virgil's Aeneid.
Subject that causes you to rant? That mercury, an untested poison, continues to be put into vaccines that are given to infants and pregnant women
Biggest 21st-century thrill? Increasing scientific probability that life is not unique to earth
Biggest 21st-century creep out? That racism, slavery, and militant religious zealotry are still alive and well in the world
What do you drive? A '95 Nissan Pathfinder littered with bits of food, Popsicle sticks, empty juice boxes, old pacifiers, and toys. I love it.
In your car CD player right now: Ziggy Marley's 1999 release Spirit of Music (his best).
Next journey? I'm going on a caving trip in March, looking forward to swimming in an underground lake.
Most trouble you've ever gotten in? Despite the fact that I did well in high school, I almost flunked out my first year at William & Mary (call it boy meets snooze alarm). Needless to say, my parents were not too happy. Thank goodness I was allowed to go back to school and redeem myself.
Regret: After college I was going to mow lawns across America and write a book called Mow West Young Man. I had the van, the money, and a big-name lawn mower company that was interested in sponsoring the trip. But other things came up, and I never went.
Favorite comfort food: Ben & Jerry's "Cherry Garcia" frozen yogurt
Always in your refrigerator: Organic apple cider
Must-see TV: The Andy Griffith Show. Don Knotts still makes me laugh out loud.
Favorite cartoon: King of the Hill. Hank is the man!
Describe a perfect day. Blue skies, Blue Ridge, kids, dogs, and my beautiful, brilliant wife by my side
Walter Mitty fantasy:I rent the Omni ballroom for a black-tie celebration in honor of my son's full recovery from autism. A capacity-crowd turns out to hear Whitman give a riveting speech about how he overcame this hideous illness.
Who'd play you in the movie? Kevin Spacey
Most embarrassing moment? On my 16th birthday I crashed taking the behind-the-wheel portion of my driver's test. Nobody was hurt. It was more of a fender-bender, actually, but I never even got out of the parking lot of the DMV, and of course I failed the test. I was so depressed on the way home, but my mom couldn't stop laughing. She said, "One day this is going to be so funny to you." She was right.
Best advice you ever got? "Stick to your knitting."
Favorite bumper sticker? "What if the hokey pokey is really what it's all about?"
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO