‘BronxTalk’ host gets the most out of guests


BronxTalk host Gary Axelbank spread his hands above the table in BronxNet’s studio, using his trademark hand gestures to egg former New York Rangers Captain Mark Messier into explaining why he decided to lead efforts to redevelop the Kingsbridge Armory into the world’s largest ice rink complex. 

Mr. Messier credited his experience leading the Rangers to a Stanley Cup title in 1994 with motivating him to become the CEO of the Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC) Partners.

“We inspired a lot of people, and certainly kids, only to turn around and to face the reality that if they wanted to try their hand at ice hockey and become an NHL player, that wasn’t easy because a lack of ice facilities,” Mr. Messier said during BronxTalk’s Oct. 14 show.

After asking Mr. Messier and KNIC President Jonathan Richter about schematics, business demands and benefits to the community, Mr. Axelbank concluded the episode that fell on the 19th anniversary of his show by giving the duo mugs promoting the project.

He then pulled out a 1995 No. 11 Rangers jersey and asked Mr. Messier to sign his old uniform, flashing a bit of the brash attitude and Bronx loyalty that his given BronxTalk a distinct edge.

Another BronxTalk milestone has begun to approach as Mr. Axelbank prepares to tape the 900th segment of the only live, call-in talk show in the borough on Monday, Oct. 28 with artist Daniel Hauben, who painted the Bronx backdrop used on the show. 

For nearly two decades, BronxTalk has played weekly on the BronxNet public access channel.

During his time in BronxNet’s studio, Mr. Axelbank, 59, of Van Cortlandt Village, said he has cowered in fear before he realized the hatchet a body guard handed former state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. amid a 1996 debate with former state Sen. David Rosado was plastic and amused himself -by quizzing state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and his son, then-Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr. where their opinions forked. 

His questions have roiled politicians, flattered students and provided community activists a platform to spread their messages. 

But through it all, he said the philosophy behind his weekly show remained unchanged.

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