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Lehigh Carbon Community College

Conquering the Airwaves

By Robert Lerose

When listeners tune into The Joe Piscopo Show weekday mornings from 6 to 10 a.m. on AM 970 The Answer, they hear provocative discussions about topical issues interspersed with playful banter between the host and his crew. As the show’s executive producer and Piscopo’s on-air wingman, 27-year-old Joe Sibilia runs the high-spirited program with efficiency and good humor—the culmination of a lifelong love of the entertainment industry that was fueled by Sibilia’s time at Lehigh Carbon Community College.

Growing up in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Sibilia was always involved with his schools’ television programs. “I would call people and interview them while I was in high school. I liked to talk to people. I was always very curious.”

That curiosity proved pivotal when he spotted a building on the LCCC campus with a big antenna and WXLV illuminated in big red letters. Sibilia tracked down program director Chris Andrew, made a strong and sincere pitch about why he should host his own radio program, and got the chance. For Sibilia, it was like being handed the keys to the kingdom.

A man in a tuxedo holds a microphone while standing on a red carpet in front of a wall that says "Friars Club"Called The Joe Sibilia Radio Experience and airing once a week for three hours, the program combined music from the Great American Songbook with celebrity talk. Under Andrew’s tutelage, Sibilia did everything himself: hosted, booked guests, recorded and edited interviews, played music, ran the control board, and wrote scripts. Sibilia talked with notables such as Carl Reiner, Buzz Aldrin, Jeff Foxworth and Dick Cavett. In 2015, Sibilia took his microphones to Patsy’s Italian Restaurant in New York City to do a special broadcast on what would have been Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday.

“I was very stunned that I was able to get Buzz Aldrin to come on my show at LCCC, but it shows the power that WXLV had. Being that they’re an iHeartRadio station, you get so much exposure that you wouldn’t get other places. It was great training for me,” Sibilia said.

After graduating with an associate degree in Communications in 2016, Sibilia pursued a Journalism degree at Hofstra University—and getting back on the air. The competition for radio talent at Hofstra’s station was fierce, but Sibilia’s accomplishments and experience impressed John Mullen, the station’s operations manager at the time. “I not only broke through on the air there, but I thrived in that setting, thanks in no small part to the preparation at LCCC,” Sibilia said.

While serving as a volunteer during the 2016 presidential debate at Hofstra, Sibilia unexpectedly spotted Saturday Night Live alum Joe Piscopo eating by himself. After Sibilia introduced himself and struck up a friendly conversation, Piscopo snapped a picture of them together on his phone and gave Sibilia his email address so that he could send him the image.

When Piscopo talked glowingly about the encounter on his radio program the next day, Sibilia sent off a thank you email, which led to an internship on Piscopo’s show that Sibilia had for almost two years while he attended Hofstra. After graduating from Hofstra and working at a radio station in Philadelphia, Sibilia got a call from AM 970 The Answer’s general manager Jerry Crowley about becoming executive producer of Piscopo’s program.

By the time Sibilia gets to the studio in lower Manhattan by 5 a.m., he has booked the guests for that day’s program, prepared notes and interview questions for Piscopo, and pulled audio clips, before revving up for his sidekick shtick. At 10:01 a.m., Sibilia says, the process starts over again for the next day’s program. “It’s a never-ending race, but in a good way.”

For an entertainment industry enthusiast like Sibilia, the chance to do a program from inside the Friars Club was an irresistible, but impossible dream. Undaunted, Sibilia made his case to Arthur Aidala, the dean of the club, and got the go-ahead. Calling it his “passion project,” The Friars Club Podcast debuted in December 2022, allowing Sibilia to speak with notables like Billy Crystal, Carol Burnett, Bob Costas and George Lopez. Sibilia records from his apartment, from the club itself or on location, going anywhere to get close to and document the careers and experiences of show business legends.

Whether sitting across from a Friars Club celebrity member or putting in long hours on the Piscopo show, Sibilia relishes following in the footsteps of childhood heroes like Johnny Carson, Tom Snyder and Regis Philbin. “These are both sort of my dreams becoming realized and that’s not something that everybody gets to experience in their lifetime.”