Richard Leibner, Agent for Top Broadcast Journalists, Dies at 85

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A trained accountant, Mr. Leibner was described in a 1989 profile by Ben Yagoda in The New York Times Magazine as an idiosyncratic character with a “remarkable emotional range.” “He can be plaintive, cajoling, jocular, terse, profane, sentimental, jovial, respectful, dismissive, analytical or expansive: The one constant is the strain of his native Brooklyn in his voice,” Mr. Yagoda wrote.

He was also known for telling incredibly dirty jokes.

Andrew Heyward, a former president of CBS News, said in a phone interview: “It would have been easy to dismiss him as a Damon Runyonesque showman, but when it came to actual negotiations, he’d come in, sit on the couch with a legal pad and pen, and we’d go through the details together. He was scrupulously detailed and honest.”

But if a client was involved in a crisis, Mr. Heyward said, Mr. Leibner would suggest that they meet at his office: “He’d say, ‘Come to the jukebox,’ and we’d have discussions near his 1950s jukebox. That was the place for a sensitive summit.”

Richard Allen Leibner was born on March 15, 1939, in Brooklyn. His father, Sol, was a certified public accountant. His mother, Eleanor (Zelon) Leibner, was a schoolteacher.

After graduating from the University of Rochester with a bachelor’s degree in business in 1959, Mr. Leibner earned a Master of Business Administration degree from New York University in 1963. By then, he was working as an accountant with his father, who had clients in the music publishing and record businesses.

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