Friday, November 30, 2007

Amateurs get a shot on getting your music on the radio: In honor of Pete Wilson, Ronn Owens will revive "The Best Music You've Never Heard''

Here's where you can get details about submitting to "The Best Music You've Never Heard," a Dec. 21 two-hour-long show for great local talents to get aired on the Bay Area's biggest radio station.

The show which Pete, producer Sandra Firpo and I developed years back, will air November 21.

I'm really excited to do it with Ronn because he has interesting takes on pop music and strong opinions.

The show, sort of an American Idol before the big weed out, has a lot of fans and is often really surprising for the high level of talent and ambition in the area.

Pete Wilson suggested the show after catching a world music band he loved in a restaurant and wondering why they weren't famous, despite their talent. He wanted a forum on the area's most-listened-to station to play others like them.

Pete and I used to do the show as if we were playing poker, listening to the music and keeping our opinions off our faces until it was time to talk. And Pete always had a rule: find something good to say and don't be Simon Cowell.

I have a feeling that Ronn and I, being native East Coasters, may be tougher.

Do I have to start working on one-liners now??

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Speaking of Savage, here is a great take on the morons who follow him

Michael Savage Sues CAIR and asks for donations: But Michael, where is the $900,000 you already raised?

Right wing radio host Michael Savage, who has regularly used lawsuits as publicity stunts, says he will file one Monday against the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has called for a boycott of Savage's advertisers for "anti-Muslim tirades."

Savage, they say, has called for making the construction of mosques illegal in the United States, and has had a history of hateful comments about Muslims.

On Thursday, on his syndicated radio show, Savage, 66, read his lawsuit, drafted by attorney Daniel Horowitz. He called it a "seminal battle that will be as big as Roe V Wade."

The suit against CAIR claims that the organization of "stealing his work, misrepresenting it and seeking to have advertisers drop from his show." He said he is suing the organization for copyright violation. He also said that he believes the tapes of his show were "stolen" by Media Matters, the media watchdog that focuses on conservative media.

"Im going to call on you next week to make donations to the Michael Savage defense fund because it's going to cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars," he told listeners.

He also lambasted other hosts, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity for not "drawing their wagons in a circle" and getting behind him.

On its website, CAIR has plenty of examples of Savage's hateful talk.

Savage's shouted anti-Muslim attacks included:

"I'm not gonna put my wife in a hijab. And I'm not gonna put my daughter in a burqa. And I'm not gettin on my all-fours and braying to Mecca. And you could drop dead if you don't like it. You can shove it up your pipe. I don't wanna hear anymore about Islam. I don't wanna hear one more word about Islam. Take your religion and shove it up your behind. I'm sick of you."

"What kind of religion is this? What kind of world are you living in when you let them in here with that throwback document in their hand, which is a book of hate. Don't tell me I need reeducation. They need deportation. I don't need reeducation. Deportation, not reeducation. You can take C-A-I-R and throw 'em out of my country. I'd raise the American flag and I'd get out my trumpet if you did it. Without due process. You can take your due process and shove it."

"What sane nation that worships the U.S. constitution, which is the greatest document of freedom ever written, would bring in people who worship a book that tells them the exact opposite. Make no mistake about it, the Quran is not a document of freedom. The Quran is a document of slavery and chattel. It teaches you that you are a slave."

To listen to these and other bigoted statements by Savage, click here.

The CAIR site continues:

Michael Savage has a long history of rhetorical attacks on Muslims and other minorities. In 2004, Savage stated: "I think [Muslims] need to be forcibly converted to Christianity...It's the only thing that can probably turn them into human beings." In 2006, he called for a ban on Muslim immigration and recommended making "the construction of mosques illegal in America."

Savage has a long history of hate talk against gays, immigrants and minorities. Even today, he inferred that CNN host Anderson Cooper was gay and allowed a gay "fake military" general "paid by Hillary Clinton" to infiltrate the Republican debate.

Savage was fired by MSNBC television for this antigay harangue.

Oh, you're one of the sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. How's that? Why don't you see if you can sue me, you pig. You got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage? You have got nothing to do today, go eat a sausage and choke on it. Get trichinosis. Okay, do we have another nice caller here who's busy because he didn't have a nice night in the bathhouse, who's angry at me today?

Savage also has a history of filing ridiculous suits, even though he often lambastes trial lawyers, including John Edwards, for filing frivilous suits.

In 1996 he sued the University of California at Berkeley's Journalism school for not considering him as a candidate for dean and claiming he was discriminated against because he was white. The candidate who got the job, and had journalism degrees was also white. The suit was dropped.

In 2004 he sued Websites called "Michael Savage Sucks," "Savage Stupidity" and "Take Back the Media" for $500,000 and lost the suit.

From 2000 to 2004 Savage raised $962,129 for a nonprofit he founded called "The Paul Revere Society." He claimed to take no money from the nonprofit, yet management expenses documented in his filings were $50,196; fundraising was $109, 413, according to documents he filed.

The IRS suspended his tax exempt status June 5, 2006. See the document here.

The charity's board of directors includes Savage, his wife Janet Weiner, and a chiropractor, Dr. Anthony Dincho.

The big question here is: where is the rest of the $900,000 he raised under his nonprofit exemption and why isn't Attorney General Jerry Brown looking into it?


Current TV: the future of journalism

This has nothing to do with music or radio....well, maybe a little...but to paraphrase Jon Landau: I have seen the future of journalism, and it's Current TV.

One of my students showed this clip to the class...and it's hard not to watch it and realize that supported and edited citizen journalism is the wave of the future.

I didn't see this on 60 Minutes, or my local newspaper, which has become a thin advertising supplement with little content.

Watch it for yourself...and I bet you will join the 52 million Current TV fans. You will never look at immigration the same way.

KPIG in syndication: great news for hog fans

This just in from the great Tom Taylor at

Now the Pig’s really on the loose – the K-PIG, that is.

The lovable Americana/alt-country porcine critter based in Watsonville KPIG, is going into syndication, thanks to Dial Global – so stations around the country can adopt the K-PIG brand and feature its live 24/7 programming mix of unpredictable music and humor.

Dial Global says their deal also includes “an arrangement to provide KPIG to stations for use on HD”, which I think means HD-2 channels. Dial Global Programming President Kirk Stirland says “here’s a format that listeners really get passionate about, done by some of its pioneers.” Among KPIG’s many “firsts” is its claim to being the first terrestrial station to stream on the Internet, back in the dark ages of 1995.

That was due to the vision of recently-deceased KPIG founder Laura Ellen Hopper. Dial Global says the pork hits the satellite dish on December 31.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jason Ricci in San Jose Sunday; but otherwise, there is no live town like Santa Cruz

Jason Ricci, one of my favorite artists in the world, plays JJ's Blues in San Jose on Stevens Creek Sunday, for $12 or some pittance.


You will thank me. If you like jam bands, he's got the best on the road right now. If you like the blues, he's all over it.

If you remember the days when Hendrix and the Doors blazed paths across the country---or if you don't, and you want to revel in music as exciting as that era's before anyone else knows about it--this is your chance.

The guy covers everyone from Little Walter to Sun Ra and has some great originals.

I saw some of his competition last night in Santa Cruz, John Popper and Blues Traveler, who were better than I expected, but lean more toward pop and jamming than anything else.

Popper and crew rifled through songs, stopping only once or twice to acknowledge the audience. I think he needs to connect more, to let them digest what is going on instead of blazing through it all.

Even the Dead, the jammiest of all jam bands, stopped to tune and chat occasionally.

Blues Traveler played the Catalyst. Down the street, at the Crepe Place, the once and future Bob Dylan, Dan Bern held court, for an acoustic one-man set of old and new material.

Bern is a contagious performer, with Dylanesque wordplay, and catchy tunes, who spits it out so well, he makes it look easy.

Hard to believe this small college town can support so much live music on a Tuesday. But there's more tonight: "African Artist of the Century" Youssou N'Dour plays the Rio Theatre, while Bern plays again at the Crepe Place across the street.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Imus may be back, but Mark Fuhrman is gone

The former Los Angeles police officer who prompted the media to talk about the "N-word," during their endless OJ Simpson trial coverage, lost his Spokane radio show last week.

Who knew Fuhrman had a radio show? And maybe now he could pair with Imus to really put the cracker in the cracker barrel.

Furhman, who ran to the white bastion in Idaho, was a talk show host on KXLY-AM from 1999-2004, and then was on Citadel's KGA, from which he was let go.

Citadel is the company syndicating Imus. Hmmm...maybe he really will work with the fake cowboy.

This information, passed on by Tom Taylor's tip sheet at

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What's Wrong with KGO and ABC News These Days?


Especially on the weekends, when I depend most on radio news, I'm hearing really badly written and reported items.

Today at 11 a.m., an ABC news reporter on the national ABC news on KGO-AM (810) was talking about the case of a police officer who had apparently murdered his wife. She was found "drownded" the reporter said.

DROWNDED???? OW. And it sounded like English was her first language.

Then in the local news, reporter Jenna Lane told the story of a Santa Cruz area hotel where as many as 1,000 people were sickened by some kind of virus. BUT, she never named the hotel.

Why report the story then? It really doesn't give the information we need, which is a trend I've noticed on weekends there. Half-reported stories presented more as filler than for giving listeners news they can use.

(The Santa Cruz Sentinel, which phoned every restaurant in the county, notes that Sanderlings Restaurant in Aptos has been closed since Wednesday and was undergoing a thorough cleaning. The County Health Dept wouldn't confirm the name of the closed restaurant, but a Sanderlings employee confirmed it for the newspaper. Sanderlings is part of the exclusive Seascape resort.)

I'll call news director Paul Hosley Monday to find out what's going on.

Have you heard any more of these flubs I should ask about???? Post them here.


Pam Coulter, the ABC reporter answered this little blog. I give her great respect for stepping up. I made an error reporting "drownded." She said "drownding," but as an accidental slip of the tongue, not because she thought that was the word...

(Here in California, I hear people say "broughten" for brought and I once heard "shoave" as the past tense of shove, so I was worried that that stuff was creeping into the most educated demographic.)

Hey, this immediate Internet feedback is keeping us all honest....

here's her note...

I was alerted to your blog because I was the anchor of the 2pm ET ABC newscast on Saturday. Here is the exact wording of the story mentioned in your critique:

"A nationally known medical examiner has examined the body of the third wife of former Chicago police officer Drew Peterson and concluded she was MURDERED. Kathleen Savio's death was originally ruled an accidental DROWNING. Her father Nick Savio said the new findings bring them some comfort…

Savio cut :12 OQ: behind bars
Peterson's fourth wife has been missing for more than two weeks."

I listened to the air check of the newscast, and I said MURDERED, not DROWNDED. However, as I was reading, I did add a "d" sound to the word DROWNING, making it sound like DROWNDING. It was completely inadvertent, and things like that sometimes happen in live radio. It was more of a "slip of the lip" than a grammatical error. I would hate to think my English skills brought dishonor on the excellent public schools I attended or Cornell University.

Thanks for listening!
Pam Coulter

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pacifica Radio Opens Archives Nov. 27

Before NPR, before PBS, Pacifica Radio was out capturing the most monumental events of our nation’s recent history.

The Pacifica Radio archives contain some of the most important and valuable recordings in public media. For one day this year, November 27th Pacifica will broadcast 19 hours of moments that changed the world-covering music, politics and social movements.

This programming will be broadcast on all 5 Pacifica Stations (SF, NYC, LA, DC and Houston) and will be streaming on Pacifica’s website.

These will include a reading of the Watergate transcripts by the likes of Mama Cass Elliot and guest appearances by Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and Graham Nash.

The schedule isn't up yet on their site, but will be at

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ever Classless, The Doghouse is back, dishing out dirt.

I can barely bring myself to post this, but the JV and Elvis Doghouse, pathetically, is broadcasting on the Internet, hoping to get a new gig, after being fired for a racist skit about Asians.

What's worse is that the way they are hoping to get in good graces with Clear Channel or CBS, is by ripping current KYLD and KITS morning shows. How low can they go? The plunge seems endless.

But, scarily, if Imus could get rehired, anything is possible.

Here is an excerpt from Elvis's (pictured above) blog (I post these so station managers who hire them can't claim they didn't know what they were getting):

Hey all...Sorry for no blog in a few...I got AIDS,Sickle Cell,The Mumps,Syphilis,and crabs over the weekend....I'm cool now.. Fuck Woody on LIVE 105 in San Francisco...This hack has no idea what it's like to do a good show on the radio and what it takes...My guess is he'll be replaced in a matter of months...whatever... How many times can my Goddamn Chargers build me up to tear me down again.. I have not watched football at all this year,but to lose to Minnesota nd give up a league record 296 yards to Adrian Peterson,then beat Indy the next...I can't take this anymore...Let's face facts...It is New England against either Dallas or Green Bay in the super Bowl...The Pats will crush either,,,would be kind of cool to see Brett Favre and the Packers get there with Favre being 64 years old...He is still a bad ass and his team has no running game but a great defense... Is it weird that I used to have an ex-girlfriend(25 years ago)that liked to eat my ass and then come up for a kiss?Thats not weird,but the fact that I never stopped her... When she would come up after chewing my ass hair and look for my tongue I used to make a bee-line for the kitchen to get a beer....Then use the beer bottle to...well you know... Props on Koof getting on the T-man abortion of a show on Monday...If the rest of you weasels had our back like Koof,maybe we'd get out of JV's bathroom doing a show...

And JV's (apparently he's no longer talking to God and inviting listeners to prayer sessions)..

T-Man took our old station out of he top 10. Woody has been even more hideous !! Howard Stern used to pull huge numbers for LIVE 105.

By the way, I don't think you heard Sarah and No-Name talking about us. It was The Woody-Cock-In-Mouth-Show. I know, Alice, Live 105, it all sounds he same.

We moved theT-Man rip fest to next to next Tuesday. BUT GO CHECK OUT THE PICS THAT ARE ALREADY FLOWING IN on the pics. section!!

I'll do my best to keep you updated on where we are headed with the new site, our new partners, and more.

I'll also make sure you get the most important news here, as well as links to all the latest internet shit!!

Call me on the show and remind me to get on Elvis' ass about going to the streets to shoot video content.

If the show sounds a little different, remember, it's just Elvis and I right now in my personal studio. Next year, we plan on having a studio built. When we do that, we can bring in people around us as well as guests. Shit foo...we is the meat and potatoes any hoo!!

If you have not heard the shows from Monday and Tuesday morning....I suggest you listen to them now....they were pretty fucking good.

If any women are feeling horny.....and would just really love to masturbate with us on one of the night shows....please contact us.

I'd also like to hear from someone that's about to break up with someone and you want us to do it for us.

Thanks for the posts.....I do read them!!!!

Swift Kids for Truth Ads: Wish They'd Been Out During the Last Election

These two ads are great illustrations of the lies you hear on talk radio everyday, and that filled the airwaves in the last Presidential election, and the current never-ending one.

Maybe this time the public won't get Swift-boated.

Although, let's face it: the Republican machine and its talk radio arm has been brilliant in its ability to make a war dodger a hero, while a veteran was portrayed as a coward, not to mention the Clinton thieving from the White House ploy, discredited by all investigators.

These days, I've been loving Bernie Ward's show. Of all the local talk hosts, he was the one that was right on about the war from day one.

He reminds his audience daily that the price of oil was $15 a barrel when we went into Iraq. Of course this was a war for oil. Someone is making big bank on it, just not the average Americans.

On the other side of the aisle, I'm loving Bill Wattenburg's take on the San Franciscans told not to help clean the Bay because they weren't "trained" for it. Ridiculous, he screams. They were told that so some bureaucrat could pay $200 an hour of our tax money for some officials to do it.

Some were arrested for trying to help.

San Franciscans and Marin-ites, who long for whales to save, would have been out in droves immediately scooping up oil and getting it into containers, if the officials hadn't discouraged them.

I wish Wattenburg, who has some great credentials, could tell his audience what the war in Iraq would look like when it's won.

Lastly, O'Reilly again: complaining that newspapers put on the front page that U.S. civilian security forces went out and killed innocent Iraqis, but didn't report on that page that the rate of U.S. deaths has gone down....

Well, Bill, if the U.S. wasn't where it didn't belong, there would be NO deaths, like your argument about illegal immigrants and crime. If they weren't here, we wouldn't care about their crime.

Can anyone read this suit and take O'Reilly seriously?

The third anniversary of this great suit against Bill O'Reilly passed....

I wish some investigative reporter would track down Andrea Mackris and see how her life has changed. How much did O'Reilly have to pay to shut her up and make her go away?

Read the suit here.

Someone should call O'Reilly's show everyday and get his take on this...It would make this no-spine zone guy's head spin.

Wikipedia notes this of Mackris, whose suit originally asked for $60 million:::In 2005 Mackris purchased a condo in New York City's Upper West Side neighborhood for $809,000. Mackris's former salary of $93,000 per year was about half the down payment [4]. One year later, in May 2006, Mackris spent another $430,950 on an adjacent unit in the building, according to deed-transfer records.[5]

That silence bought a lot of nice apartment space.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Should Imus be back on the air??

Here's my take on "Mornings on 2"...what do you think?

Monday, November 12, 2007

NO, Christine Craft is NOT buying KSCO-AM-(1080)

The things that come out of this little independent Santa Cruz radio station are sometimes so goofy that a radio columnist could spend all his time as a fact checker.

Last week, the station owned by Michael Zwerling, put on promos for a guest appearance by Sacramento and KGO-AM radio talker Christine Craft saying that she might buy the station.

"Do I have the money to buy it? " said Craft by phone today. "The long answer is No. The short answer is NO."

When booking her interview on owner Zwerling's Saturday morning show, she mentioned that she would love to buy it, which Zwerling spun off into a promo for the show.

"I told him that if I had the money, I'd buy it in a heartbeat," said Craft. "Then he made up this crazy promo."

The Santa Cruz Sentinel picked up on the item and it got propelled to blogs. Strange that no one thought to call Craft for a comment.

There are people looking for progressive millionaires who might be able to raise the capital to buy this strong signal that reaches the entire Monterey Bay, and San Jose on a good day.

But no action yet.

I love the wacky little talker, which is one of the most non-corporate stations anywhere, with the friendliness of a local diner.

I'd sure love to see someone buy it whose views could reflect the political diversity of the region.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Battle of the Under 18s is the most exciting Last Band Standing Day

And a tough one, for sure.

It's All About, a band of kids in middle school, is a lot of fun and entertaining.

But on their run through of "Panama" and "Back in Black" they sounded just like what they were, and it was an uphill battle against the older high school students in Joe.

Joe was a bit soft on "The Wait," but absolutely nailed "White Room," the way they nailed "Come Together" last week.

They made the covers their own, adding vocal inflections, some keyboard parts and a heavy drum delivery. It sounded at one point like Janis Joplin fronting Cream.

If you had to pick one band to carry the mantle for the Bay Area and KFOX, that was the one. Joe was a band that would make audiences say: "I can't believe they are so young."

Check the videos below and tell me what you would have done.

I think I made my call based mostly on vocals, which were stronger by Joe and are the thing that stand out most hearing a new band. The guitarists in both bands were very impressive and tasteful.

I gave Joe a 9.9 and It's All About a 6.5, my biggest spread to date. But frankly, I was really disappointed that three of my favorite bands didn't make it to the finals: The Floyd Project, the Covergrrls and the Subway Tokens, largely because we judges were so impressed with all of the competitors that we gave them very close scores.

That meant the voters ruled the decision, which means that the band with the most friends and the best mailing list can stack the deck. They brought judges in to make musicality a standard as well, and, while we struggled and sweated, not finding much bad in these bands that were weeded out from hundreds, but some were clearly a bit better than others.

Feel free to comment below.

Here are a couple of links to Tom Waits' performances at the Bridge School Benefit

Check these for the outlying limits of performance today....This guy is so far out there, I can't think of anyone comparable.

Video ONE

and TWO:

Monday, November 5, 2007


The talent in this valley is simply amazing. And it's almost scary to think that all of these musicians have day jobs.

Today's contenders at the KFOX contest were the Floyd Project, which, not surprisingly, is a San Jose band that covers the music of Pink Floyd versus EVOLUTION, a Journey cover band.

Both were excellent, flawless, and in some ways better than the originals. That's the real measure of a tribute band, I think. Not just to duplicate, but to add something to the mix.

The Floyd band, had five of its members from one family. Singer Clayton Johnson plays keys, as does his 14-year-old son, Haven. Clayton's three sisters sing dynamic background vocals.

I was blown away. They covered Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine" and "Have a Cigar" faster than the recordings, reminiscent of the early Floyd days, when they played fast and furious.

I figured a band this tight toured all the time...but they don't. They've only had one recent gig, back in July...

Bookers, do you hear this? These guys would be great at Music in the Park or maybe a regular gig at the Catalyst. Just look at the success the White Album Ensemble has had. I think this would naturally follow.

I gave them my only 10 of the judging.

Evolution followed with a solid replication of Journey.

The only problem for me is that I'm just not a big Journey fan. I mean, I like some of the songs, but am mystified about why anyone would want to cover them.

The KFOX audience differs though. They love this band, and they carry off the imitation with real panache and flash. Steve Perry's vocals are tough to duplicate (though not tough enough for the actual Journey to keep finding new singers from cover bands, which also strikes me as weird).

What's next, Phil Collins and Celine Dion tribute bands???

Meanwhile, I gave them an 8, although for the musical chops and flash, I might have given more. I just thought it took more sophistication to pull of the Floyd tribute.

(Attach hate mail here!!!!))

Thursday, November 1, 2007

HEY: Check this cool website: DEEP ROCK DRIVE

The concept is wild, and it may help some of the younger bands I heard today.

It's called Deep Rock Drive and it's a website where you nominate a band, and if 1,000 or more people sign your petition and pay $7 each, the band plays a concert, seen worldwide on the web. The band takes half the money and some goes to charity.

Some people think this could be the next MySpace for real music freaks.

It's like the minor leagues that music is missing these days, and a chance for people to see shows they can't get to (those who need to hire a babysitter; those who need a babysitter; those in faraway places where talented bands can't always afford to hit)...

As a critic, I know there are so many great bands who can't afford to tour and be seen all over. The record companies are nil; MTV is gone; it's so hard to find great new music. This seems like a place that can solve the problem.

My first petition is for Bill Miller, one of the greatest unknown artists I know. Every person I've recommended him to has thanked me. The second will be Jason Ricci...but there are so many more I could do. Hey, maybe Tom Waits, who never tours.

It's free so check it out; nominate your favorite bands and let me know what you think.
PHOTOS:Jason Ricci/Bill Miller)

Don't Judge, Lest Thou Be Judged: KFOX's LAST BAND STANDING IS AWESOME

I'm having a great time judging bands at KUFX-FM's Last Band Standing contest....but I'm gaining a lot of sympathy for Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.

It's not easy, or always fair, judging artistic merit. And sometimes, with parents who act like Little League fanatics, it can get downright ugly.

I'm judging along with musician Robert Berry and concert promoter Read Zaro.

You can see videos of the bands at (Pics: L-R: Joe; It's All About; Subway Tokens)

I would love some input from some of you.

The first two days we scored cover bands, two each day, as they gave live radio performances on two songs. Based on our votes, and internet votes from fans, the bands can win some great prizes. Judges were brought in this year, after three previous versions, to make it more a contest of talent than of mailing lists.

But even that hasn't always worked.

The first day saw the East Bay's MamaLuke! battle the CoverGrrlz. The first band standing, MamaLuke caught a big break by going first to a panel of new judges.

Their versions of Tom Petty's "Listen to her Heart" and Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way," were true to the originals, but lacking in much inspiration. The band's singer was a solid showman, but his vocals were ordinary on tunes that didn't require great singing.

There was an out of tune guitar in the first song, but we judges didn't know if we were hearing what would be the best band of the week, or the worst. The fact that they were enthusiastic and played the songs recognizably earned a lot of charity.

Too much, it turned out.

The band got 7s and 8s from the judges. But then the Covergrrlz, who played better and with more panache, got a similar score, meaning that the one with the most fans votes would win.

MamaLuke moved on, and the judges decided we had to be tougher to make a difference.

Which isn't to say that Mamaluke, or any of these bands was bad. If anything, this contest has made me appreciate how much talent is out there at all ages.

So far, the under 18 bands are even better than the adults, maybe because they have less to lose and are more willing to take chances with the material. Or they just hear it through fresh ears.

The second day saw the Megatones slip by the Caloric Ultra Rays.

Frankly, it was a tossup for the judges. Both bands played well, hit the notes and seemed confident and entertaining.

Then came the junior category, and our toughest day.

The South Bay band Joe was the best band I've seen so far, covering Neil Young's "Ohio" and brilliantly taking on John Lennon's "Come Together." It was the latter song that sent chills up my spine.

Jordan, the 17-year-old female singer, sounded like she'd been in the business for a lifetime, her voice a throwback to crooners like Nancy Sinatra. The guitarist, Jeff, threw in a Voice Box solo, on the effect he'd only bought two days before the show.

That was the kind of inspired chance none of the established bands had taken on, and they got my highest score, a 9.5, and high scores from Read and Robert.

All of which irked the parents of the kids in competitor Crimes of Passion.

That band was OK, on "Rebel Yell" and "You Really Got Me," but the singing was flat, the drumming sludgy, despite the highly touted Eddie Van Halen pyrotechnics of 16 year old guitarist Juliana.

They sound much better on their website and demos, particularly when compared with the other bands, who seemed looser and more fun.

We wanted to grade the younger bands on a curve, but it was hardly necessary. They all had as much talent and grit as the adults, and I think a couple of them could beat the adults in a playoff.

I gave Crimes an 8; the other two scored them lower, and the difference helped clinch it for Joe. Listening back to the tapes, we were right, although the band's fans and parents were upset.

The parents of this band were roadies, cheerleaders, coaches and had stage-parent-itus, unlike the others, who mostly stood back and let the kids shine. I'd advise these parents to step back and let these kids breathe the fire of rock on their own, and play because they love it, not because you want to make them stars.

Maybe the most amazing thing is that these high school and junior high kids are huge fans of classic rock and have the talent to improvise on it.

Thursday's duo was the best all around, at least as entertainment.

A San Jose trio The Subway Tokens smeared "You Really Got Me," with the "Eruption" intro. They nailed every note and had fun doing it. They made it look easy and with a brother and sister guitarist and bassist, I could really see them taking off on originals.

(Behind every cover band is a great songwriter wanting to break out.)

Then came the Little Rascals of Rock, Morgan Hill's It's All About, a bunch of eighth graders who restored my faith in the future of rock.

These kids were so at ease, and so funny, you couldn't hate them, even when they had to stop "Hells Bells" to tune up.

Their singer advised us to grade them on a curve, because unlike the other bands, they couldn't even grow facial hair. The little blonde bassist, who headbanged so hard it looked like his head would fly off, called Greg Kihn "bro," with complete cool.

I thought Kihn should hire them on the show as his house band...Imagine the joy they'd bring to parents and kids driving to school together. They were naturals, and played well. They scored just a shade lower than the Tokens.

The winner will be announced tomorrow at 10 a.m., and next week will be Tribute Bands and the finals in the other categories. Check it out from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on 98.5 FM.

In these days when radio plays so little local music, and does so little to support it, this annual contest is a huge event for the South Bay. The station and the bands should be congratulated for putting it all together.

Imus hiring again shows radio's dark side

On television Rush Limbaugh claims that African American Donovan McNabb gets a pass from the media because of his race -- and he's fired -- but remains the most popular talk host on radio.

On television, Michael Savage calls a caller a sodomite and says he hopes he gets AIDS and dies, and he's gone from MSNBC in the blink of an eye -- but keeps a healthy radio audience.

And now, Imus, who stirred the national discussion on race and was fired April 12 when he called the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos," will be back on radio December 3, on ABC radio's New York outlet.

ABC, which was bought from Disney by New York's Citadel Broadcasting, owns San Francisco's top radio station, news/talk KGO-AM (810) and conservative talk station KSFO-AM (560). There was no word on whether Imus would be picked up out here, but the station's operations manager Jack Swanson was in New York for meetings this week.

Citadel CED Farid Suleman recently defended Imus in the New York Times.

"He didn't break the law. He's more than paid the price for what he did," said the executive who once oversaw Howard Stern at Infinity Broadcasting, as the assistant to Mel Karmazin, who left to head Sirius satellite.

African American and women's groups are rightfully outraged at the return of a demon they thought was exorcised by national outcry and protest.

Imus fans have found no replacement for the host, whose ratings weren't great, but who had top flight political figures as regular guests.

Suleman, no doubt following in Karmazin's tradition of taking on controversy, must figure that with election season approaching, Imus may be able to attract an audience and syndication. Maybe he figures that the public is so numbed by the constant barrage of hate speech and lies by the likes of Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly, that it will accept anything.

Contract details weren't announced. Imus had signed a five-year, $40 million contract with CBS before his firing and settled privately with the network after threatening a $140 million lawsuit. His show was on 70 stations.

Originally, I thought Imus would be back, possibly on satellite, because the radio world is so starved for talent and attention that someone would take a shot. When it didn't happen, I was relieved, like the medium was gaining a moral compass.

But apparently not.

The $64,000 question is whether the big name politicians will return. One would think not, but one of the most unlikely voices, Al Sharpton, said he thought Imus "had a right to make a living."

The other question is why is radio so much more tolerant of intolerance and bad taste, then television? Is it because TV is a forefront medium that requires full attention, while radio is a red-headed (not nappy headed) stepchild, that serves mostly as aural wallpaper during a drive? Or that TV has so many more viewers and higher stakes ads?

I've never accused TV of having highbrow taste, but at this moment, the comparison with radio is helping it look that way.

These are scary times. As enlightened as we think we are, the level of public discourse seems at times no more enlightened then it was before the Civil War.

The same day the Imus announcement was made, news outlets are playing a tape of a call made by the star of cable television's "Dog, the Bounty Hunter," Duane Dog Chapman, to his son, laced with hate talk and the N-word.

The A&E network has suspended production of the popular show.

In the phone call, released by the National Enquirer, Chapman was irked that his son was dating an African American woman and said it could hurt the family, because the family often used the N-word and they didn't want it misconstrued as racist.

Maybe Suleman timed his release perfectly. Nappy-headed ho sounds positively Disney compared to the Dog's rant.

Or maybe Suleman can hire Dog, after he's fired from television, as a cohost with Imus. The duo could help bring listeners who left the medium after KKK wizard David Duke lost his radio show.

There will be plenty of people defending Imus's right to freedom of speech, and I hope, plenty of people using their own freedom to boycott the station and its advertisers, who are again confusing hot talk with hate talk in the name of upping the bottom line.

PS: i'll be on KTVU Channel 2 Friday at 8:15 talking about the Imus decision with Ross McGowan.