Hilly Rose is a late-night radio talk show host, one of a breed of smart-alecks known for their arrogance and bad manners, savaging poor insomniacs who telephone them in the wee hours to fend off loneliness and fear. No doubt a worthwhile book could be fashioned about these cruel communicators--and about their victims--but Rose makes only a half-hearted attempt at it here. He does offer admiring thumbnail sketches of a number of his fellow ""communicasters,"" comparing the late Joe Pyne historically to Teddy Roosevelt. Pyne was famous for advising callers to ""gargle with razor blades."" Rose respects such wit and devotes most of his book to his own one-liners as well as to his triumphant confrontations with various celebrities and experts who have shared his microphone, lie offers a brief but bristling defense of the talk show form, complaining that the other media show little respect for the late-night gabbers, particularly ignoring the many news scoops Rose has achieved and noble causes he has championed in his 17 years at the task in California. The so-called scoops and causes celebres appear to have engendered considerable excitement in the radio field but not in the printed media, a strange phenomenon worth exploring. But Rose opts for telling us how he used his considerable political clout to bend the Governor of California to his will in the matter of smog control. Playing the role of Everyman, he admits few errors. It is ironic then that he should write, ""Joe Pyne is the only talker profiled in this book who has died."" The book's galleys arrived on the same day the newspapers recorded the death of the most celebrated of the talk show hosts, Long John Nebel.