By day she is one of West Virginia’s most respected trial attorneys, and now, in the early evening during the workweek, Teresa Toriseva is hosting a two-hour, all-topics talk show on Wheeling’s WatchDog Radio Network.
From 5-7 p.m. on AM 1600 WKKX, “Tee Time with Teresa Toriseva” features a wide range of topics as well as interviews with local, regional, and national guests. She, of course, welcomes phone calls from local listeners from the Northern Panhandle, east Ohio, and from western Pennsylvania.
“My goal with the show is to have a voice because one of the things that drives me is the imbalance of power in any situation,” Toriseva said. “So I try to be the voice for those who don’t have that voice to address those imbalances of power as I see them. Plus, I want to listen, and I want to learn, and I do get to learn a lot about the community.
“It’s enjoyable to feel the temperature and the pulse of this community through radio,” she continued. “One example is this one regular listener who is a regular caller although he and I disagree on a lot of different topics. Plus, he tends to get himself in some hot water with his posts on Facebook. He’s a conservative and even though we may disagree on something, he’s always very respectful and kind. It’s a way to learn the other views and opinions that are out there in the listening audience.”
Toriseva, the mother of a son and a daughter, was graduated from John Marshall High School in 1988, and then, believing she wished to become a doctor, earned her biology degree from Wheeling Jesuit University in 1992. However, Toriseva altered her direction and instead attended law school at West Virginia University, where she acquired the rare honor of earning both the Order of the Coif and the Order of the Barrister when she graduated in 1995.
Initially Toriseva moved to Charleston and practiced law there for nearly a decade before returning to her native area 15 years ago. In 2008, she founded Toriseva Law at 1146 National Road near the Dimmeydale neighborhood, and in 2009 was first heard on the airwaves in the Upper Ohio Valley.
“I started on air as a legal expert, and I was always with a host,” Toriseva said. “Having the safety of doing radio with a host is a different reality from what I am now doing on air. It’s been eight years, but it feels like a very short time that I have been doing it.
“But that’s because I haven’t done it on a daily basis. I’ve just been having fun with it,” she said. “When I was on the air as a host once a week for three hours, I would do some prep work for that show, but if I didn’t have enough to talk about after a week, then I wasn’t paying much attention at all. That’s why the daily show I’m doing now has been an interesting challenge so far.”
“Tee Time” graduated to daily broadcasts during the first week of January, and now, with a month of experience, Toriseva is feeling the difference in the workload.
“It is wearing on me a bit; I’ll admit that, but I expected that it would. I was pretty confident that it would be harder in the beginning, and then I suspect it will get easier over time,” Toriseva said. “I’m ready for that, and it will be OK. I’ll get through it because I really love doing it.
“It’s an adjustment, and it’s winter, and I believe this time of year is a more difficult time in this area than the other months of the year,” she continued. “I expect I’ll hit my stride come spring and be ready to go from there.”
Frequent topics on “Tee Time” involve national and state politics, and the presidential and gubernatorial election cycles provided much fodder for Toriseva and her producer, Scott Mazzulli.
“The show is easier to do when there are a lot of hot topics that a lot of people are talking about. That’s when there could be a lot of callers, too,” Toriseva said. “But that’s not an everyday thing. Luckily, during my first month, our new president was inaugurated, and he’s made a lot of news since taking office, so that’s given us plenty to discuss.
“These days there are a lot of professionals that have multiple careers because they have multiple interests,” she explained. “I think the key is finding things that fit together, and for me doing radio and being a trial lawyer, I call on the exact same skill set. I am a better lawyer because I am on the radio, and I am better on the radio because I’m a trial lawyer in the courtroom. If I didn’t have that synergy, I don’t know if I could do it.”
Her part-time work in radio taught Toriseva the role the WatchDog Radio Network has played in the community since being founded more than a decade ago. Not many community radio stations exist in the United States today because conglomerates have saturated markets with the same syndicated shows that slant toward the political views of ownership.
The network’s two stations, AM 1600 WKKX and AM 1370, feature local programming from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. with six different hosts who cover a plethora of different topics.
“I’m not really sure where I want this radio career to go, but for now I just hope to survive the daily, two-hour show on the Watchdog Network. I do know that I want the show to have a national focus like what we hear on the syndicated shows, and if it grows from there, I am leaving that door open.
“There’s always the question about how it fits with family and my existing obligations as a trial lawyer,” she added. “It may turn out that all I can do is what I am doing now because my law practice has never been as busy as it is now. This isn’t the most convenient time for me to be doing anything extra, but it’s definitely worth it to me. I enjoy it very much.”
(Photos by Steve Novotney)