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Conservative conversations

By Ariel Wittenberg

Section: Features

October 22, 2010

Former Waltham resident Brian Henchey, 33, is a member of the Tea Party and believes that health care reform is “an idea that is toxic to society.” He is a volunteer on the Sean Bielat campaign and hopes the Newton Republican will take the seat of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) in the Nov. 2 election.

He is also the newest voice to grace the Brandeis airway as host of The Brian Henchey Show on WBRS.

Henchey attended Northeastern University and majored in Chemical Engineering. After college, he spent 10 years as a computer engineer before quitting in 2005 to attend the Connecticut School of Broadcasting to become a talk-show host.

“I was always interested in politics, but I really got into it because of the 2000 Bush election when there was the whole thing with Al Gore and the electoral vote,” he said. “It was a very confusing time and it sparked my interest in talk radio and politics. I just thought one day, you know, ‘I would love to make a career out of this.’”

And so he did.

After interning on various conservative talk shows, Henchey joined up with the Bielat campaign in Newton, but he still had the talk-show bug.

“I heard from someone that there was a station in Waltham, so I did a search and found WBRS,” Henchey said.

Like all WBRS DJs, Henchey had to go through an “intern” process where he learned how to use the switchboard and man the station.

WBRS’ news director David Fisch ’13 said Henchey’s show, which will air Wednesdays from 4 to 5 p.m., is part of WBRS’ commitment to “talk about the news in some capacity at least once a day.” These news-related shows, as opposed to music shows, are referred to as datebooks.

“Datebooks haven’t really been filled in the past, so that makes it easier to become a datebook host,” Fisch said.

Fisch added that, though it was unusual for a non-Brandeis student to host a WBRS show, it was not unheard of.

“Usually our talk radio stations are Brandeis students, but there are a couple of music shows that are hosted by community DJs,” he said. “I’ll go into the studio at night sometimes and see older people from Waltham.”

While the station caters mainly to Brandeis students, Fisch said the station also has Waltham listeners as well.

To Henchey, it doesn’t matter, so long as he is on the air.

“The greatest thing about talk radio is it’s not TV,” Henchey said. “If you watch TV, you sit there like a lump. You watch and you don’t interact with it. With talk radio, you do.”

Henchey’s all-time favorite talk-show host is Howie Carr on WRKO, followed closely by Michael Graham, who helped stir up controversy last year when a Brandeis conference on New Right Wing Radicalism included speakers on both the Tea Party and Neo-Nazis on its schedule.

A Tea Party Member, Henchey is proud that he was part of the movement before former President George W. Bush left office.

As a Republican who grew up in Massachusetts, Henchey said he never thought he would have a republican to represent him in office. Senator Scott Brown’s election last spring gave him hope that Republicans and the Tea Party movement could be successful.

“I never in my wildest dream thought I could have a Republican or even a non-Democrat representing me in Washington. It just means everything to me as a conservative,” he said. “But people are sick to death of taxes,” he said, adding that he will use his show to talk about “conservatism and why it’s right.

“I don’t mean that in a figurative way, I mean that literally, conservatism is right.”

Using health care as an example, Henchey explained that liberals and democrats reward bad behavior and people’s irresponsible actions.

“It’s like if you’re training a dog, you give it a treat when it does something good. You don’t give the dog a treat when it does something bad. Liberals and democrats do the opposite,” he said. “Health care is exactly that. It is the idea that because I am an American, it is the government’s responsibility to own my health care or provide me with it.

“It is not anywhere in the Constitution that you get free health care,” he said.

Though he is a conservative talk-show host on a largely liberal campus, Henchey said he looks forward to starting a dialogue on campus, and on his résumé describes himself as a “possessor of genuine interest in what ‘the other side’ has to say.”

“I want people who disagree with me to call me on my show and tell me I’m wrong, to prove it to me. I want to talk about these ideas,” he said. “If this was an all-conservative campus and I’m a conservative talk-show host, that would be a really, really boring show.

“But that’s the beautiful thing about talk radio,” he added, “it is where America holds town hall meetings every single day.”

The Brian Henchey Show airs Wednesday from 4 to 5 p.m. To call into the show, dial 781-736-5277.

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