Peter Leonard and Jacqui Wyatt
By Ron Hayes
The talk of the town is “The Talk of The Town.”
But don’t expect it to be all happy talk.
On July 17, 2010, Jacqui Wyatt and Peter Leonard welcomed listeners of radio station WBZT-1230 AM to a new show — from Boca Raton, about Boca Raton, hosted by residents of Boca Raton.
She was the director of marketing for Investments Limited, owner of Royal Palm Place, where the show originates. He was a longtime radio personality, as edgy as she is smooth.
From 1-3 p.m. each Saturday, they would talk to the town about food and wine, entertainment, the arts, sports and all things Bocan.
“The concept was to make the show feel like you were sitting in somebody’s living room,” says Wyatt, “just having a conversation with friends.”
Some of those friends have included saxophonist Will Donato, sculptor Yaacov Heller, model Oleda Baker, photographer David Pearlman and fashion designer Patrizia Rondelli.
Apparently, the conversation is catching.
In its annual “Boca 100” issue last year, Boca Raton magazine placed “The Talk of The Town” in the No. 1 spot.
Locally, the show can be heard from Jupiter west to Lake Okeechobee and down into Broward County, but Wyatt boasts that they also have online listeners in South America, Europe and Guam.
“We’re huge in Guam,” Leonard says. And therein lies the show’s charm.
Watch Wyatt and Leonard live, and you can’t help smiling at the creative tension.
On air, Wyatt is the marketing pro, unfailingly perky and polite.
Leonard arrives at the clubhouse studio high atop Royal Palm Place in a T-shirt adorned with microphones and the slogan “Speak Your Mind.”
After the strains of “Downtown” have faded, Wyatt kicks them off with predictable pep.
“It’s always gorgeous in Boca!” she gushes. “It’s like a Mediterranean version of Greenwich Village!”
A bit more chit-chat and they segue into the “Adoptable Pet of the Week” segment, steering viewers to orphaned cats and dogs at Tri-County Humane Society.
Rufus, the chihuahua lab mix, has almost completed his heartworm treatment. Shannon, the classic tabby, likes people but not other pets.
Hansel and Gretel, Wyatt assures, “are just precious.”
“He likes long walks on the beach and enjoys poetry,” adds Leonard.
Wyatt shoots him a look. It will not be the last.
Later, Wyatt drops in a plug for the FroYo frozen yogurt shop in Royal Palm Plaza, and Leonard speaks up again.
“Stop in and tell them you heard about it on this show and they’ll charge you just the same,” he says, without a hint of irony.
Wyatt shoots him a slightly sterner look.
They wrap up the segment with a reminder that cat adoptions are available for just $15 during the holiday season.
“So you mental patients who are still smoking out there, give up two packs of cigarettes and you can have yourself a beautiful cat,” Leonard says. “It’s five Starbucks.”
Wyatt looks like she can see all the smokers out there angrily changing the channel.
“Jacqui doesn’t know what to make of some of the stuff I say,” Leonard confides during a commercial break. “She gets mad at me sometimes.”
He’s Groucho, she’s Margaret Dumont, and that’s what makes the show such fun.
Next up is Skip Sheffield, just back from Las Vegas to host his “Inside Scoop” segment, a roundup of the week’s cultural offerings.
“It’s disorienting going through three time zones,” Sheffield says. “I don’t feel like I’m still all here.”
“Well,” says Leonard, “I’ve felt that since I met you.”
And then, just when you think “The Talk of The Town” is all happy talk with a dash of Tabasco, their guest of the week arrives.
Jim Gavrilos, executive director of Boca Helping Hands, brings a bit of a storm cloud to all that sunny “Boca lifestyle” chat.
Boca Raton also is home to Pearl City, he reminds everyone, and the Sandalfoot neighborhood out by SR 441 is “a second pocket of poverty.”
Leonard stops with the wisecracks. Now he and Wyatt still look concerned.
In 2010, Gavrilos reports, Boca Helping Hands was delivering 2,700 hot meals a month. This year they hit 4,000.
In 2010, they distributed 710 pantry bags. This year, 2,685.
On Thanksgiving, they served 670 meals in one day.
Leonard hands him a check, and Gavrilos starts talking about an anonymous donor who has offered to match gifts.
He recalls a client, a family on the pantry bag list, who brought in $6. His voice is steady, but his eyes fill with tears.
“That $6 meant more to me than a $50,000 check from a corporation,” he says.
In the final 10 minutes, the happy talk returns, but the town they’ve been talking is much more than good food and wine.
“Boca’s really a hidden gem,” Wyatt says, “but this show isn’t just about money and affluence.”
And that’s what makes “The Talk of The Town” worth talking about.