Friday, August 31, 2007
Bay Area liberal radio outpost goes 'Green 960'
By Brad Kava, CONTRIBUTOR
Article Last Updated: 08/31/2007 07:54:53 AM PDT
FOR YEARS, the imperious growth of corporate radio giant Clear Channel Communications gave the company a reputation as radio's Death Star, invoking about as much tenderness as Darth Vader.
But it's pretty hard to have only hard feelings for the San Antonio-based company if you have been watching what it has been doing with its Bay Area liberal outpost, KQKE-AM (960), which, as of Monday, became KKGN, "Green 960."
Originally the home of the struggling nationally syndicated "Air America" network, it has spun away with other local and syndicated liberal hosts, who are slowly but successfully fighting an uphill battle to reclaim the almost exclusively conservative medium of talk radio.
The lineup of Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow, Bill Press, Mike Malloy, Jon Elliot and Randi Rhodes is a liberal dream team, intelligent and entertaining. It is virtually tied in the ratings with conservative talker and sister station KNEW-FM (910), both down in the lower 20s for Bay Area audiences over 12.
And it just added a locally produced afternoon show at 3 p.m. daily called "Green Seed Radio," a primer for people who want to live with more concern for the environment.
The show is hosted by Bay Area radio personality Ginnie Waters (formerly with KKSF, KGO, KTIM) and sponsored by Redwood City's Green Building Exchange, a cooperative that focuses on green building materials and methods.
She will have four interviews and profiles each
day, covering such issues as green coffins, battery-powered motorcycles, toxic wastes and green dentists (presumably, that isn't the color they leave teeth).
You hear the word "green" so often these days you have to wonder, is this all just a fad?
"I ask myself that too," says Waters. "But the environment is here to stay. Are people using this for self-serving marketing? The bottom line is it doesn't matter as long as they are doing it and making changes. We have to make changes together, or we won't all be here much longer."
The whole thing sounds a lot more like public stations KQED or KPFA than anything on the commercial dial.
"I know," says program director Bob Agnew, whose background includes running sports station KNBR and bringing Rush Limbaugh to the Bay Area. "Can you believe this is what I'm doing? But after two years of working with this station, I've moved dead center — from hardcore conservative. And I really think we are ahead of the curve on this movement."
Agnew wins on that one. Almost two decades ago, when I heard Limbaugh on his station, I thought that he was a cartoon-character blowhard who would go away quickly, and he told me he was ahead of the curve then, too. He was right.
Check it out yourself; I'm giving them a chance.
PLAY BALL: The managers of KNBR-AM (680/1050) will look like geniuses if the San Francisco 49ers ever start winning again. The station, owned by Atlanta's Cumulus Media, has taken over team broadcasts long held by KGO-AM (810). KGO owner Citadel has kept the Raiders at KSFO-AM (560).
Cumulus sister station KSAN-FM (107.7), "the Bone," will have three-hour long tailgate parties at Monster Park hosted by morning maniacs Lamont and Tonelli, which they promise will be like nothing any other radio station has ever done. One can only imagine.
KNBR, the area's "sports leader," got a big bump from Barry Bonds home run title quest. In the recent spring ratings book, it got bumped up into seventh place in the San Francisco Bay Area ratings, with a 3.2 share of the 5.9-million audience. It was in 14th place with a 2.3 share over the winter.
Anyone else notice that San Jose, which used to be 30th in the country with a 1.4-million radio audience, has slipped to 35th place, well behind Kansas City in 30th place with 1.6 million and just ahead of Milwaukee?
For those of you keeping records, New York is first with 15 million listeners. Los Angeles is second with 11 million; Chicago third with 7.7 million; and San Francisco fourth with 5.9 million.
If you love reading ratings as much as I do, the best place to see them on the web is http://www.radioandrecords.com
THINK GLOBALLY, LISTEN
LOCALLY: Kudos to KFOG-FM (97.7/104.5), which has been featuring local music all month on its morning show, broadcasting live from venues with artists such as Elliot Randall, Matt Nathanson and Rick Hardin.
This week's show goes from 6 to 10 a.m. at the Fillmore in San Francisco with guest Dave Gleason.
Radio should be about live local music, something that's too often been lost in these days of big corporations running stations with nationally homogenized playlists. For more, visit http://www.kfog.com.
Someone coaches radio people to do something to get themselves known, to stand out from the crowd of voices. Some try slogans; others vocal stylings.
There's Bernie Ward's (on KGO-AM, 810) ending: "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission."
And Ralph Barbieri's (on KNBR-AM 560/1050): "Angels fly because they take themselves lightly." Barbieri, stands out also with the nails on a blackboard voice of a New York hotdog salesman, one you would never think would fly on radio.
Those two must work, because I remember them and I'm not offended or irritated by them.
Then, there's KSCO-AM's (1080) newswoman Susan Simon, who I would have fired ages ago, just for her irritating attempt to be remembered. She ends every item saying, "This is Susan (pause, pause, pause) Simon"
The long drawn out silence between her first and last name is so irritating and out of place for a reporter, it just seems like a cloying way to get known on a tiny Santa Cruz station. I think it would offend anyone looking to hire her.
She apparently thinks it's great, because she identifies herself on her website as Susan......Simon.
What are the best and the most irritating signoffs you've heard?? Send them to me here for my next Oakland Trib column and I'll credit you.
(Photo: bernie ward)
Thursday, August 30, 2007
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- This season, Arkansas will find out how well "woo pig sooie" translates to Spanish.
The University of Arkansas announced Thursday it would begin a Spanish radio network for its football season, offering six Fayetteville home games simulcast for the state's rapidly growing Hispanic population.
While soccer remains much of Latin America's true "futbol," officials say interest among Hispanics in northwest Arkansas has grown, especially since freshman Alex Tejada has taken over this season as the Razorbacks' place kicker. Tejada, a former high school soccer player, comes from nearby Springdale, home to many Hispanic immigrant families.
"Clearly, there's a large market. Clearly, there's a very good following for Alex Tejada," said Matt Shanklin, an assistant athletic director at Arkansas. "In this market, there's already a taste of it."
The games will be broadcast on AM stations ESPN Deportes 1580 in Fort Smith and La Maquina 1590 in Springdale. Univision reporters Carlos Chicas and Jose Lopez will serve as the on-air talent.
Chicas, who also announces Kansas City Wizard MLS games, said he and Lopez began covering Razorbacks soccer for the Univision affiliates' news program in Little Rock and northwest Arkansas. As more Hispanic players joined university teams, Chicas began a baseball broadcast for a local Spanish radio station.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Listen here http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=13970206
Strange and scary memories from a man who saw so much first-hand. If journalism as we know it dies, will bloggers fill these shoes?
NPR's Terri Gross does this interview with the man who won the Pulitzer Prize for these gruesome photos that bring the reality of war home.
Monday, August 27, 2007
San Francisco liberal talk KQKE-AM (960) is changing its call letters, as of today to KKGN, or GREEN 960, supposedly marking the station -- and owner Clear Channel's -- push to a more green world.
I don't know if I buy it and will flesh this story out later today. There are all kinds of reasons to change call letters, the most important being that good ones give listeners something to latch onto. KQKE was a tongue twister at best.
Clear Channel has turned over this green leaf in other venues, launching environmental programs at its concert venues. (I reported this at the Mercury News, but go do a search for a similar story at the San Francisco Chronicle. It treats its workers better.)
The station, which is managed by Bob Agnew, a straight-shooter I always liked, features a solid and smart liberal lineup of Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow, Bill Press, Mike Malloy, Jon Elliot and Randi Rhodes. It will add a show called Green Seed Radio from 3-4 p.m., which I assume will be hosted by Ginnie Waters, who has been doing it on Saturdays.
I'll get ahold of her soon, for the Oakland Trib column and this site.
Here's the scoop on an Imus Tv appearance, courtesy of Tom Taylor at Radio-info.com and Variety.
A first step back toward the media spotlight (for Imus)? It's a carefully-chosen one and it's on a 30 million subscriber-cable channel named RFD, whose slogan (as Variety notes) is "Rural America's Most Important Network."
Imus has had a very rural Summer himself, working with kids on the Imus Ranch in New Mexico. He and wife Deirdre agreed to do do the one-hour special last year, but it was taped last month, so the media-curious will be watching to see if he discusses CBS, NBC, or his plans now that he's negotiated his exit from CBS. Variety says RFD president Patrick Gottsch promises "three-hanky viewing, as [the special] chronicles how the kids overcome their fears and health limitations" on a working 4000-acre Western ranch complete with horses, and horse stalls to muck out every morning. Read the Variety article here.
(If you are a big Howard Stern fan, you may have heard the king of all nose jobs blast Taylor's reporting once because he worked for Clear Channel-owned Inside Radio. Taylor now works for an independently-owned service, but I think his reporting was impeccable no matter who he reported to. I know from personal experience that Clear Channel purchased all kinds of media, but doesn't have it's hands in every report.)
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I had a great time at San Jose''s Jazz Festival, and take great issue with the review written by Rich Scheinin, one of the people at the often out of touch newspaper I used to work for, who I usually respect.
Scheinin's complaint was that the festival didn't have enough of the straight-ahead jazz he favors, but I see that as this festival's strength. You can get hardcore jazz at festivals in Monterey or San Francisco, but you can't get stages devoted for two days to gospel, Latin jazz, salsa, blues, R&B and young artists, and be able to wander freely between them.
And the festival crawled late into the night with packed club jam sessions, and hot young artists such as Ryan Shaw.
The salsa stage was so packed Sunday that fire marshals were keeping people out...and it was an outdoor venue. As a critic myself, I know that popularity doesn't mean everything.
But I think Scheinin shows himself to be out of touch with the intent and goals of this festival, which is to please a large group of people and introduce them to all kinds of diverse music, not just one genre.
He lamented not having enough acts to move him to rush to the different stages--but that is a joke. With 125 performers, I wanted to rush all over the place, and could barely see an eighth of what I wanted, including straight ahead jazz. I didn't meet anyone else who shared Scheinin's complaint.
And even he said he saw a few great performances, which for a $5 cover, seems like a great bargain to me.
Scheinin worries that corporate sponsorships may be diluting the festival, but the bigger problem is in the city's lack of financial support.
City government gives the festival about 60K and charges it about 100K in park rentals, security and cleanup.
Contrast that with the 400K it gave the Grand Prix, and you have a real issue. What kind of culture does the car race give and why is it worth more than a great jazz festival?
It also shouldn't have to charge $5 for what was once the biggest free jazz festival in the world. Not because that is a lot, but because it requires fences to be put up all over town and makes the audience feel caged. It doesn't present San Jose in its finest light. Before the charges, people wandered all over town, sat on curbs and lawns and listened and danced comfortably.
San Jose has a knack for ruining people's attempts to enjoy their downtown, and it's given up a lot with those fences. They mar the beauty the city wants outsiders to see.
And it's hard to fault corporate sponsors who have stepped up to the plate to fund known and unknown jazz, and brought so much great music to so many people.
Bay Area guitarist Castro has teamed up with Ronnie Baker Brooks, Magic Dick and Deanna Bogart for a tour that should light some fire for blues fans.
It follows my own rule for great blues: you need a harmonica and/or a female singer to be great (ok, ok, I know there are exceptions).
But Castro and Magic Dick? That blows me away. Both are way underrated.
Here's Tommy on his website www.tommycastro.com
talking about how he got his new bass player, from Des Moines, after his regular bassist of 17 years, got sick.
It's a musician's dream come true.
TOMMY TALKS ABOUT NEW BASS PLAYER SCOT SUTHERLAND: Hey everybody! The new bass player for TCB is Scot Sutherland from Des Moines, Iowa. Some of you might remember him from the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue Tour. When Randy needed to leave a TCB tour last year because of a serious health situation in his family, Scot was the guy that filled in. We were in Iowa at the time, so we asked some people we know in Des Moines for some names. The first person everyone recommended was Scot. Lucky for us he could do the gigs. We gave him some CDs and two days later he was on the gig for four shows. I was a little nervous--we had never done a show without Randy before. After the first couple of songs I wasn't nervous anymore. He did his homework and played great. We had a lot of fun that night. Randy needed some time off again in January, so we asked Scot to fill in again. He did the back to back Delbert & Legendary Cruises with us and the Legendary R&B Revue, backing up Deanna Bogart, Ronnie Baker Brooks and Magic Dick. He's a really good guy and we all like him a lot. A few months later when Randy told me he was going to be leaving I didn't think twice about it, I called Scot. We'll have Scot's bio posted on the site soon so you can find out more about him. --T
Monday, August 13, 2007
1) Will they last the tour?
2)Will they record a new album together?
3)Will Eddie and David Lee get violent?
4)Will Wolfie be terrible?
5)Will Eddie have to go back to rehab?
CHECK HERE FOR SYNDICATE OF SOUND BIO:::
Join Mayor Reed & KFOX 98.5 Live at San Jose City Hall with Syndicate of Sound. Tuesday, August 14, 12 - 1 p.m., at City Hall Plaza
Syndicate of Sound's blockbuster 1966 hit "Little Girl" has just passed a milestone having aired more than a million times on radio stations worldwide.
Also at the event, the nominees for this year's San Jose Rocks Hall of Fame will be announced.
And hear the Syndicate live:
One Night Only!
Syndicate of Sound
Thank You Party
Tuesday 8/14, 6:30 p.m.
The Blank Club
44 South Almaden
downtown San Jose
* Black Pearl
* The Odd Numbers
* Billy the Kid
* SYNDICATE OF SOUND
A donation of $5 at the door
All funds benefit San Jose Rocks, and the San Jose Rocks Hall of Fame, celebrating Silicon Valley's Role 'n Rock. San Jose Rocks is a program of History San José
Learn more about San Jose Rocks
For more information contact:
phone: (408) 293-1791
After seven great candidates' guest appearances on the morning show, The
Duke, Tim, Mike and I are thrilled to announce that our own Celeste
Perry has been selected as the permanent co-host of the KFRC morning
show, effective immediately! We are fortunate to have had so many
qualified candidates to choose from; in the end we all agreed that
Celeste's persona and style are a fabulous compliment to Dave's. Please
join us in congratulating Celeste on this exciting news.
Celeste's new role creates a void in mid days; we are happy to announce
the return of longtime KFRC alumnus Sue Hall as 106.9's newest on air
personality, effective immediately! No doubt many of you remember Sue
from her long run as KFRC mid day host in the 90's, right through 2006.
Sue also worked at KFRC in the 80's, as well as stints at KIOI, KMEL
(with John London in morning drive) and KMAX. Sue's history with the
KFRC audience and her proven abilities make her the ideal choice for the
newly vacant mid day slot; some things just have a way of working out
Sue can proudly boast having worked at KFRC on all its dial positions.
She is uniquely qualified to make our music and promotions relevant to
today's listeners, in an upbeat and engaging way. Sue is also a
self-professed A's fan, making her "fit" even more glove-like. Please
join us in welcoming Sue back to her radio home, KFRC!
The KFRC On-Air Dream Team is:
Mornings, 5:30 - 10 AM: The Duke and Celeste
Mid days, 10 - 3 PM: Sue Hall
Afternoons, 3 - 7 PM: Jay Coffey
Evenings, 7 - 12 Mid: Steve Moore
Next stop: Bay Area history... again!
VP/GM | Live 105 (KITS-FM) l 106.9 Classic Hits (KFRC) l
Friday, August 10, 2007
Here's my first column from the Oakland Trib today. I'm working on my next, which includes the death of Ron Lyons. If you have memories of him, post them here and I'll get them into the column. Thanks.
HOWARD STERN may call himself “the king of all media,” but he’s got some serious competition from morning show (5-9 a.m.) DJ Ramsey Lewis, the newest addition to KKSF-FM’s (103.7) lineup.
Lewis is a jazz pianist whose 1965 hit, “The In Crowd,” is number 354 on the Recording Industry Association of America’s list of the all-time top 1,000 songs.
For 15 years he’s been a Chicago disc jockey whose show is now syndicated into 15 markets. He has a successful weekly PBS television show, “Legends of Jazz, ” on which he brings some of the finest American music to a new audience.
The 72-year-old, who looks scarily good for his age, tours and plays some 50 shows a year, records an album a year, has won three Grammys and seven gold records and has been the Radio and Records Air Personality of the Year twice.
Oh yeah, and he’s just finished his first ballet, “To Know Her,” which was performed by the Joffrey Ballet, and now he is working on a memoir.
It’s a stellar resume, even if he hasn’t appeared, like Stern, as “Fartman” on the Grammy awards show.
This month KKSF replaced sydicated morning host Whoopi Goldberg with Lewis’s more music-focused morning show. His shift began the same day that Goldberg announced she was joining TV’s “The View,” but that had nothing to do with KKSF dropping her show.
“It was a matter of what fit our format best,’’ says program director Ken Jones. “People turn to us for music and they weren’t getting that with Whoopi.”
She’ll still do her radio show from New York. Fans can hear it at ww.KKSF.com.
“I almost wish we could have kept it. Can you imagine the guests she’ll get now?” says Jones.
But her show was ranked only 21st in the spring ratings book for the most valuable 25-54 audience.
Lewis is sort of a jazz spy in the house of love. He’s a straight-ahead jazz aficionado playing music on smooth jazz stations -- a format that elicits the same feelings in traditional jazz players that Hillary Clinton draws from Rush Limbaugh.
The way Lewis resolves the conflict is by integrating the music of older jazz greats with the smooth jazz lineup.
He started in radio as a guest on Chicago’s WNUA-FM, when a program director heard him and pitched him on doing his own show. He agreed to take it on, as long as he could mix the softer works of Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Wynton Marsalis, Oscar Peterson and Miles Davis along with the staples of the genre, such as Kenny G.
And these were the days before “Smooth Jazz” was a genre. It was called contemporary jazz, and featured musicians who could really play, he says, such as Grover Washington, Al Jarreau and Wes Montgomery.
“My beef with smooth jazz is that many times the so-called smooth jazz musician rests on his or her laurels and for some reason, there is no evolution,” he says in a phone interview from Chicago.
“They have found a comfort zone, imitating what has been done before, and I don’t find the guys in smooth jazz coming up with their own voice. I won’t name the ones guilty for being lazy and comfortable.”
But, he says, you’ll hear the ones with a fresh perspective on his shows. Among them, he says, are Eliane Elias, a singer and pianist married to trumpeter Randy Brecker; and pianists Bobby Lyle and Monty Alexander.
Which is all good with Jones, whose station features a traditional jazz show Sunday nights 8 p.m. to midnight, and has an HD sister station at www.kksf.com that plays only traditional jazz.
“I’m glad to have someone who can make the connections from Chet Baker to Chris Botti,’’ says the program director.
Lewis says he thinks smooth stations have a responsibility to turn listeners on to the older stuff.
“They have to introduce them to more than just the dessert. We have a responsibility to say have you tried potatoes this way, or the grilled asparagus?”
AROUND THE DIAL: KGO-AM’s (810) program director Jack Swanson has two slots to fill in the lineup that is the Bay Area’s top-rated. Gene Burns is temporarily doing afternoons, in place of Pete Wilson, who died of a heart attack last month. And former San Francisco Chronicle columnist David Lazarus, who did fill-ins and Saturdays, is moving south to work for the Los Angeles Times.
Top contenders are likely Eddie Sellars and Karel, but Swanson has no announcement yet. Look for it first here. Who would you like to see get a daily talk radio show?
Tag: Read Brad Kava’s daily radio blog at www.radio-soup.com. Email him at email@example.com
I wrote Owens an email to that effect yesterday....haven't heard back.
But I'm stunned that a football coach can command a memorial at Candlestick, covered live by the biggest local radio station, KGO-AM (810) while the murder of an African American journalist is almost a footnote.
To me it once again demonstrates the not-so-subtle racism in this country, and I agree with African American groups who say that if this were a white journalist it would have gotten far more coverage.
What do you think? Your comments here will definitely be read by the managers of KGO.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
As part of its program to remake itself as an arts organization, and not simply a concert venue, Saratoga's Villa Montalvo is asking performers to give the audience something they can't get elsewhere.
Wednesday, the British band Steel Pulse did an on stage interview with me and the audience --the first time this 32-year-old band has done this to open a show.
It was wonderful. I got to hang with them beforehand, watching them eat a vegan catered meal and play Batman trivia.
"That's life on the road," said Selwyn Brown, who stutters a bit and seems shy offstage, but on it, sings ferociously and danced out into the crowd with a wireless microphone.
These guys were sweethearts in every way as you can tell from a bit of this video. They were hesitant at first, but ended up enjoying the interaction with devoted fans.
BTW: Montalvo really shone this night. For the first time in my memory, there were no hassles between dancers and the sit-down folks int he expensive seats. About 3/4ths of the way through the show, security let a big crowd come to the front and dance.
That was how great rock and reggae concerts should be.
The set was great, a mix of old classics and new political tunes from the most recent disc "African Holocaust," now three years old.
Don't worry, said Selwyn. These perfectionists, who tour almost endlessly, have material for a new disc in 2008.
No More Weapons
Pan Africans Unite
Dem A Wolf
Door of no Return
Can't Stand the Heat
Your House Medley
Babylon Makes the Rules
The band will tour 50 cities, so it's a safe bet the Bay Area will get at least one show when the announcement is made Monday morning.
The good news: David Lee Roth is back in the fold; Eddie is probably off the drugs that made the last go-round two years ago so miserable that Van Halen cover bands were better.
The bad news: Michael Anthony is out; Eddie's son, Wolfgang, is playing bass. That reeks of the kind of unprofessionalism this band has been throwing out for a decade now.
Eagles manager Irving Azoff is reportedly on board for this one. He's the guy who has kept one of the most dysfunctional bands ever touring, even if that means they arrive at the shows in separate private jets. If anyone can keep Eddie and David Lee from killing each other, it's him. But I suspect it will be a bigger challenge then Henley and Frey.
Here is a copy of Eddie Van Halen's letter to fans after canceling the promised tour earlier this year:
March 8, 2007
I would like Van Halen fans to know how much I truly appreciate each and every one of you. Without you there is no Van Halen.
I have always and will always feel a responsibility to give you my best. At the moment I do not feel that I can give you my best. That’s why I have decided to enter a rehabilitation facility to work on myself, so that in the future I can deliver the 110% that I feel I owe you and want to give you.
Some of the issues surrounding the 2007 Van Halen tour are within my ability to change and some are not. As far as my rehab is concerned, it is within my ability to change and change for the better. I want you to know that is exactly what I’m doing, so that I may continue to give you the very best I am capable of.
I look forward to seeing you in the future better than ever and I thank you with all my heart.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
In 1985 the great reggae band Steel Pulse released a disc called "Earth Crisis," which never seemed more true than it is today.
Villa Montalvo in Saratoga is presenting the band in concert Wednesday, and is holding a discussion beforehand about the relation between politics, race and music. I'm moderating it.
This English band's first single, released in 1978, was called "Ku Klux Klan," and was a rallying cry against racism.
It will be exciting to hear what these longtime players of conscience have to say about making music that is more than just music.
Montalvo has cut down its concert schedule, but it is trying to make the shows it has into art events, by having the performers talk to students and the audience. It's an admirable cause for the arts center, and I'm looking forward to participating first hand.
If you have any questions for them, drop me a comment below.
Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are 50/40/35/30/20/15 students with ID. You can get them at www.villamontalvo.org
The discussion starts at 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Here's a story from Chicago's Timeout Mag about the Bay Area's Charlie Musselwhite playing with the Polyphonic Spree at an unlikely gig...Over the past 10 years, this blues star has made inroads into a polyglot of eclectic music, including Cuban, gospel, roots and now, Bowie-esque psychedelia.
He'll play Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at the San Jose Jazz Festival.
A correction though on the Chicago story, on a mistake I made myself until corrected by Kirk Pengilly, of INXS. Musselwhite doesn't play "Suicide Blonde.'' He plays on the bluesy "Who Pays the Price" on the same album.
Musselwhite's publicist has continued the mistake, listing the hot playing on Suicide as his client's. It's an easy mistake to make. When I talked to Charlie about playing with INXS he didn't really know the name of the song he played on, and that standout harp sounded like it should have been his to many listeners.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
The slimiest host in talk radio's back must be sore from patting himself so much after getting the Duke rape case right. He was the first in the media, and the only one for a while, to suggest that the lacrosse team was falsely accused.
But keep this in mind: even a blind man throwing darts will hit the bullseye occasionally. But only after he's punctured everyone and everything else in the bar.
This week, Savage suggested that the seizure suffered by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts was a case of poisoning by the left. "He was in perfect health," Savage said, only moments after a news report that Roberts had a similar seizure a decade earlier.
He's the National Enquirer or talk hosts. No, that's too classy. He's the Star or the Weekly World News, with the aliens on the cover.
Savage has also become very quiet about the Marines accused of murder and conspiracy in Iraq, as the convictions have been rolling in. Didn't he promise to go down there to raise money and protest their arrests?
Savage is also famous for putting people down for the things he does. He lambasted Diane Feinstein for wearing a scarf to cover her wrinkled neck. Look at his publicity pics. He's wearing the same scarf.
Yesterday he made fun of the YouTube host of the Democratic debate, suggesting his beard made him look gay or affected. Savage has the same beard.
And he's constantly putting down Bill O'Reilly for shilling his products. Now, Savage is selling his own podcasts; he's selling the speech he sent in to the Talkers Magazine Freedom of Speech award; and he's selling his own 20-year-old health books. (See the chapter in Herbs that Heal on marijuana. He was a big supporter back then. Wonder if he's edited it out.)
Then there's Rush Limbaugh...who this week told his listeners that he was surprised that the American people were upset about the war in Iraq. Most of them have no stake in it, he claimed, because of the volunteer military.
Uhhhh...Rush.....what about the tax money we are all giving to it, at the kind of levels that helped sink the Soviet Union after it took on its own war in Afghanistan?
You listen to this garbage, and it's natural to think we need a Fairness Doctrine, even though, really, it's not the answer.
Because frankly, these guys, like Rupert Murdoch, have become the mainstream media, the dominant voices in the media.
Sometimes you just need a good old-fashioned rock show. You know, the kind with smoke-filled green lasers, videos and hours and hours of achingly loud, well-played, frantic music.
That's what Rush, the three-plus-decades-old Canadian art-rock band, gave its fans Wednesday in Mountain View, and will continue Friday and Saturday with shows in Concord and Sacramento.
As with the great amphitheater tours of yore, the band mixed healthy doses of old hits, hidden chestnuts, and solid new material, so strong it made me want to buy the new disc immediately. They even gave out a free poster at the end, recalling the value-added days of Bill Graham's Fillmore.
Isn't that what rock tours are supposed to do? Yet, most classic rock bands are touring on fumes, happy memories and stand-ins for the original members (some, like Journey, hiring cover band musicians to reenact original parts).
Also, Rush never scrimps on the special effects. There were great lights, lasers and South Park videos. That other trio, the Police, gave a performance that was as stripped down and thin, content-wise, as your local newspaper is these days.
Rush avoided most of the songs on its anniversary tour two years ago, pulling out chestnuts from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Many of the highlights included the new material, such as a complex instrumental, "The Main Monkey Business," and another, showing off solos, "Malignant Narcissism," which avoided the aspersion of its title with what to me was the best drum solo in a lifetime of great drum solos by Neal Peart.
He moved from lush African melodic sounds to his regular Buddy Rich tribute, with an intensity that kept even the most ardent lyric lovers and solo-haters in their seats and away from the bathrooms and snack bars. I'd see the show again for that alone.
Like the Police, these are three highly skilled musicians, who have managed to mix adventurous playing with unlikely radio hits. Unlike the Police, when Rush strays into jazz, it is still convincing and intense.
There's no smooth jazz or shopping mall music here. They are too cool to be cast out.
PS: Could some Rush fanatic please explain what the barbecuing chickens were all about behind Geddy Lee??? Those were the weirdest amps I've ever seen, not to mention the chef who kept coming out to baste the birds.
MINI RADIO REVIEW::::AS I was leaving Shoreline, I thought: remember the days when great radio stations followed big shows with sets by the bands? Too bad that doesn't happen anymore.
Then, I put on KUFX "The Fox" at 98.5 FM, and there was Greg Stone playing two hours of Rush. Now, that's what radio is supposed to be about. Staying in touch with the local community and serving their late-night needs.
Stone's nightly show defies attacks on commercial radio. It's the smartest rock show on the commercial airwaves and takes listeners back to the days when music mattered.
Here's the Rush setlist:
The Main Monkey Business
The Larger Bowl (Bob & Doug video intro)
Between The Wheels
Video Intro (features Alex)
Workin' Them Angels
Armor And Sword
The Way The Wind Blows
The Spirit Of Radio
Tom Sawyer (South Park video intro)
One Little Victory
A Passage to Bangkok