Tom Leykis: iconoclast, atheist, Champion of Masculinity or Demonic Misogynist, (depending on your point of view), our Atheist of the Week segment takes a look at the secular radio talk show host who spends his daily broadcasts attacking traditional cultural notions of sex, relationships in general, and makes a point of criticizing women who utilize sex as a manipulative tactic in relationships. Tom was born on August 1st, 1956 in New York, New York, the oldest of 4 children, with two sisters and one brother. He planted the seeds of his current career as a radio talk show host in 1970 when, in his early teens, he won a contest for a one-time radio appearance on WBAB Radio in Babylon, New York and served as a fill-in host on several occasions thereafter.
The late 1970s saw him walking more and more in this direction, first with his own Public Access program on Manhattan Cable TV, and then in 1979, when he became a regular host at WBAI on Wednesday mornings. Expanding his repertoire of skills in hosting, satire, and media in general during this time period, he worked as a stand-up comedian, a researcher for a late-night CBS program, a columnist for the SoHo News, and a telephone solicitor.
From the 1980s until now, he has moved from station to station, aggregating more and more airtime, his programs taking on different incarnations over the years, sometimes being politically oriented, sometimes focusing on his personal life, etc., all the while gaining in popularity. The current incarnation, The Tom Leykis Show, is broadcast live Monday-Friday from 3:00pm to 8:00pm in Los Angeles, and is syndicated on stations in various cities across The US.
During the broadcast, Tom plays the role of relationship guru for men. The advice he doles out to his demographic of predominantly male listeners can be seen as aligned with the male libido from an evolutionary standpoint, wherein capable men tend to seek out polyamory (due to the fact that a man takes very little risk when he mates with a woman, whereas before methods of contraception were developed, every time a woman had sex she risked being taken out of the mating game for an initial nine months just to see a child to birth, and many years thereafter before her offspring could be self sufficient). Therefore, his insights are heavily aligned with the male sex-drive, though probably coming from worldliness and intuition as opposed to a Darwinian philosophy of masculinity.
His views are thus at odds with many traditional cultural mores; for instance, he holds an annual segment called “The Dump That Bitch Show”, wherein he encourages male callers-in to break up with their girlfriends, the kicker being that it airs as close to Valentine’s Day as possible! Traditional American mores such as marriage and family values are never exempt from his ruthless enfilade. Which brings us to his godlessness. In one of his randomly scheduled segments, “Ask an Atheist”, Leykis challenges callers on the futility of their belief in god.
Here’s just a few quotes taken from celebatheists.com:
“I’m an atheist. I don’t subscribe to a belief in any god or deity.”
The Onion: Is there a God?
Tom Leykis: No, there is no God. Period.
O: End of sentence.
TL: End of story.
O: No God at all.
TL: There is no God.
A regular listener writes “[Leykis] says he’s an atheist virtually daily and takes on fundamentalists like a wild cat!”
Also, taken from Wikipedia: Tom once held a weekly segment on Wednesday afternoons in which the only callers screened through had been molested by priests when they were children. This segment was broadcast for about six weeks during a time when the Catholic Church was dealing with their molestation scandal.
The Man is one part Howard Stern, one part advice guru, one part secular, one part comedian, and all parts controversial. He is less of the sober skeptic image that materializes in my head when I think of the word “atheist”, which is why he deserves accolades. He says things that will piss off theists and the godless alike. My favorite thing about him is that he takes a completely different tack towards human sexuality than any of his opponents, one that can be described as completely honest from his perspective. Regardless of whether you agree with his views or think he’s a chauvinist pig, that’s a lot more than you can say about the traditional religious values that he challenges.