Talk show host attorney wins listeners with no-holds-barred style By DOUGLAS S. MALAN
It doesn't take long to get a handle on attorney Lisa Wexler's
Engaging. Opinionated. Witty.
Three years ago, after being worn down by a caseload of contentious
divorce cases, Wexler began looking for a job that better fit her
personality. She was in the car one day listening to talk radio, when
the idea sparked in her head. "I decided I could do better than what I
heard," said Wexler, who is a solo practitioner in Westport.
Today, Wexler is the host of the "Live With Lisa" talk show that airs on
Norwalk-based radio station WNLK 1350 AM and also is carried on WSTC
1400 AM in Stamford, two Cox Radio Inc. stations. She's on Monday
through Friday from 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. as well as 10:30 a.m. to noon on
Saturday mornings. And her shows are available on her web site,
She characterizes her show as she does her shrinking law practice: "I
really am a generalist."
The radio show's content during the week is heavy with conversation
about the hottest topics in the news, and Wexler sprinkles in plenty of
subjects that don't get as much media attention, such as animal rights,
land use issues and advancements in stem cell research.
Book authors and self-help professionals, especially those who cater to
women, are popular guests, too, especially during the Saturday morning
show that has more of a feature story feel than the newsier weeknight
"I hope I'm consistently unpredictable," said Wexler, who wants to grow
her show to have a regional and then a national presence. The show's
tenor and content is "a bridge between [National Public Radio] and
Eric McDonald, program director for the radio stations, was part of the
management team that offered Wexler the nightly time slot at the
beginning of the year. He said the station and its consultants are
working with Wexler to increase her time on the air from hour a night to
two hours and then three. The industry standard for a national talk show
host is three hours with the host developing the skills to fill most of
that time without guests.
"She wants to become a nationally syndicated talk show host based here,"
McDonald said. "I'd like to think she's [Cox Radio's] next big
Wexler recently was voted by readers of a local lifestyle magazine the
best radio personality in Fairfield County.
Boredom Sparks Change
Wexler's career switch came from a basic understanding. "I was unhappy
practicing law, and I was a little bit bored," she said.
When she helped out a colleague with some divorce cases, she said she
felt ground down and aggravated by the work.
That's when she decided to carve out seven weeks of time from her
practice and enroll in courses with the Connecticut School of
Broadcasting. Though Wexler had hosted a music-oriented show while an
undergrad at Johns Hopkins University, she wanted to learn the ins and
outs of the business and how to make a career out of radio.
After completing her coursework, the clients she had put on hold came
calling early in 2006 and her life again was controlled by her practice.
By summer, Wexler's husband, William, pointed out that she had put forth
the time in school and had done nothing else to pursue her goals in
That conversation pushed her into contacting WNLK, which happened to be
auditioning for someone to take the Saturday morning slot. She won the
audition and launched her radio career. "For me, this is the thing I'm
most naturally good at," she said. "And I wanted the excuse to talk to
really interesting and accomplished people."
When her show debuted in September 2006, her first guest was Gov. M.
Jodi Rell. The guest list has since included people such as musician
Jewel; Ted Sorensen, who was special counsel and speechwriter for
President John F. Kennedy; and actors Robert Wagner and Fyvush Finkel.
Wexler also has a family connection that has helped enhance the
visibility of her show. Her sister, Jill Zarin, is one of the cast
members on the reality show "Real Housewives of New York" on the Bravo
channel, and episodes of the TV show have shown Zarin speaking with
Wexler on Wexler's radio show. That national exposure has helped lead to
more listeners and has contributed to increased Web traffic for Wexler,
who said she now gets about 500,000 page visits a month.
Wexler also covers the law with a passion. She frequently discusses an
interesting case, presents the facts and then asks her listeners to call
in to say how they would decide the matter. "That's always a popular
segment of the show," Wexler said.
Earlier this month, she brought on Connecticut state Sen. Sam Caliguiri
to discuss health care, activist judges and plenty of other topics.
Caliguiri, who is also a Day Pitney lawyer, is running for the
Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.
At the beginning of the interview, Wexler came out in her
no-holds-barred style: "You come from Waterbury, which is the cesspool
of Connecticut government, so I want to know how you separate yourself
from the stench..."
The comment elicited a chuckle from Caliguiri, and the two engaged in a
spirited back and forth, especially when they disagreed about judges
making law from the bench as they discussed the confirmation of Supreme
Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
In terms of show preparation, Wexler said she spends two to three hours
for every hour she's on the air. "I'm a thorough lawyer and I'm going to
be a thorough radio host," Wexler said. "You've got to do all of that
preparation in order to perform."
Wexler said after three years, her radio work now constitutes the bulk
of her work week.
She still has a couple of probate matters that are ongoing but she's not
looking to grow her practice.
With her radio show, "I feel like I found what I was meant to do," she
Thank you to You Who Voted and Moffly Media for naming Lisa Wexler as Gold Coast Best Radio Personality