Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rush Limbaugh finally taking some heat from his own party

There was a call to Rush Limbaugh's show today that should be taped and played repeatedly.

A soldier called, saying he supported McCain and asking Limbaugh to stop dividing the party and attacking him.

In a move of total spin, Limbaugh said that he sympathized with the solider who had to endure attacks by peace activists, ignoring the fact that the soldier was blaming Limbaugh for attacking his candidate.

Then, he lambasted McCain for reaching out to the other side, calling them "evil."

This from a guy who claims that Republicans want to unite the country, but Democrats can only divide. Limbaugh is the king of dividing this country and his ilk follow along. His whole schtick is Republicans good, Democrats evil and he never gives it a rest.

After repeatedly slamming John McCain and praising Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh has been taking his medicine from Republicans supporting the war vet after his victory in Florida.

Almost all of Limbaugh's show Wednesday was devoted to media references of his and his candidate's defeat. But the most annoying thing he said had to do with Tom Brokaw.

Limbaugh admitted his bias against McCain, but said that Brokaw wouldn't admit his biases, "which we all know if you read between the lines."

Therein lies the whole problem between the talk screamers, FOX and real journalism: they don't believe that a journalist CAN be objective. I do, however. If they are trained in being truly fair and balanced, they can present news that way, despite personal balances.

As a journalist, I even worried about voting, for fear that it would skew my reporting. I tried continually to make sure that both sides got fair treatment, to the point of counting words to make sure each side got the same space.

Now, Limbaugh isn't a journalist, he's a commentator, so no one expects fairness from him. But I don't think all of the media is as skewed.

Meanwhile, here's a great example of how FOX TV tried to manipulate the election, throwing its hat in with Rudy Giuliani, trying to make that little man seem bigger than life, with the "America's Mayor" tag----like Michael Jackson calling himself "the King of Pop."

(And a great Eric Boehlart column here:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Talk Radio is King in the Bay Area: KGO, KTRB, KNEW, KCBS, MANCOW, RONN, KAREL

News trumped Christmas in the Bay Area ratings, as news/talk KGO-AM (810) finished first for the Fall ratings for listeners over 12, just above KOIT-FM’s (96.5) nonstop Christmas music.

“I was worried we might not do it this time,” says KGO program director Jack Swanson, whose station has been number one for 27 years by the Arbitron ratings service. “But the election is getting more interesting and I think, even during the holidays, people had insecurity about the economy. That all tends to be good for talk stations.”

Radio stations are ranked by how many people tune in every 15 minutes, the length of a standard commute in some places, and by how long they spend listening. So, a station that broadcasts Christmas music that people leave on all day long, can score big during the holidays.

Here’s your Bay Area Top 10, and their percentage of the 5.9 million listeners over 12: news/talk KGO-AM (810) , 5.7; easy listening KOIT-FM (96.5), 4.7; classical KDFC-FM, (102.1), 4.0; news KCBS-AM (740), 3.8; Mexican music KSOL-FM (98.9/99.1) 3.6; urban music KMEL-FM (106.1) 3.5; conservative talk KSFO-AM (560), 3.4; adult rock KFOG-FM (104.5/97.7) 3.0; urban music KYLD-FM (94.9) 2.7; sports talk KNBR-AM (680), 2.5.

So, four of the top ten stations feature talk, a trend that is growing in radio, as people find other sources for music. It would be five, if you add in KQED-FM (88.5), the public station that isn’t rated quarterly by Arbitron, but is usually high in the Top 10.

Two other talk stations haven’t been as lucky. Conservative talk KNEW-AM (910) is 23rd and its Clear Channel-owned sister station, liberal KKGH-AM (960) is 27th.

KTRB-AM (860), which started its talk lineup almost a year ago, doesn’t crack the top 40, with a weekday bullpen of nationally syndicated shows, including Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Phil Hendrie; and Neal Boortz. It’s sad that a local station with a big 50,000 watt signal, can’t invest in local shows.

Manager Jim Pappas says there may be more if the station gets more advertising and ratings. But that seems to be a cart leading the horse argument. Why would people want to listen to a station that is carrying the same type of cookie-cutter conservative hosts as KSFO and KNEW?

Former San Franciscan John London dropped off the air, after a dispute with his syndicator, which gave Pappas a four hour notice to replace him. And former San Franciscan Mancow’s show is picked up live from Chicago from 3-6 a.m.

I’ve been up at those hours and tuned in, and have to say Mancow is better than ever, a ringmaster with a seven ring circus, switching themes like a teen with attention deficit disorder and a 1,000-station remote.

Conservative radio hosts who spent the past 16 years making a living bashing Bill and Hillary Clinton, are falling all over themselves and showing their true colors, now that Barack Obama is gaining serious traction in the presidential primaries.

He’s just not an easy target for them, and the callowness of their thought doesn’t include smears for an articulate man who is inspiring a new generation. But try, they do.

Rush Limbaugh, the dean of Republican messages on the airwaves, makes a point of using Obama’s middle name, Hussein, as often as he can, as if he is trying to scare his Midwestern loyalists with the same creeping Muslim fears that have cost trillions in Iraq.

His imitators, including Sean Hannity and Brian Sussman, have picked up the cry: Husssein, Hussein, Hussein.

Michael Savage doesn’t imitate anyone. He just lives on as the lowest common denominator; his biggest insight sounds like elementary school name calling from a child left behind.

This week, he said that the candidate looked like “Alfred E. Newman from Mad magazine” and like the Eddie Murphy character, Norbert. Deep, man, deep.

The more banal their criticisms, the more it seems like Obama could surge.

Do me a favor, because this stuff is toxic in large doses: please monitor some talk radio for me and send in the best and worst smears you hear.

Obama’s biggest critic on the other side of the dial seems to be KGO-AM’s Karel, who has been filling in for Bernie Ward, while Ward awaits a June trial on child pornography charges.

Karel has been telling listeners that he thinks Obama is unelectable because the Midwest won’t vote for an African American. But he’s started to soften, after the South Carolina victory.

“It’s a fairy tale, and every so often, one comes true,” says the host, who has been lobbying for a part in Sean Penn’s upcoming movie about former Mayor Harvey Milk’s murder.

“I”ve been openly gay far too long in the straight world taking the slings and arrows to not be in this movie,” he says. Sean, if you are reading, he’ll settle for a 10-minute interview.

With all this talk about talk, let me add one more critique. KGO’s Ronn Owens has been on fire for months. He’s cut down on the corny jokes and been hammering guests with insightful questions.

I picked up on this, almost unconsciously, as I found myself unable to get out of my car and get to appointments during his show.

When I asked him, he said that since his hospitalization for an episode of amnesia last September, he’s found a renewed passion for the show.

I’ve heard it, even in throwaway shows, like his “instant guest,” where he drafts audience members to appear, and had a fascinating woman talking about being a mystery shopper.

Then, this week, on the serious side, few could have been better than when he had Barbara Boxer and Dan Lundgren critiquing the State of the Union address.

And there was no sign of amnesia, when he instantly came up with the name of the Italian Prime Minister in another interview, with no help from Google.

He really sets the standard for talk in the middle of the spectrum, something getting rare in these days of shouters who don’t check facts, and come off like pro wrestlers.

Read and comment on Brad Kava’s radio blog at .

Funny Larry Craig sendup from King Crimson and John Lennon bassist Tony Levin

watch to the end.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

KQED-FM reviews my band, Doghouse Riley

With NO prompting from me, I swear, printed this wonderful review....And, confirming again the power of the press, we had a big house yesterday, and made four times our average payday. They felt sorry for us. Thanks all, and thanks, Ben.

You can check it out here, with pics....

The permanent link is

Jan 27, 2008
Performance Review : Doghouse Riley at JJ's Blues

At 7pm on most Monday nights, JJ's Blues is about as quiet as you'd expect a dive with modest signage on Stevens Creek Boulevard to be. Melissa is standing behind the long counter, chatting with a couple of regulars while pouring an irregular, me, a drink. Johnnie, the proprietor of San Jose's most venerable blues club, is dividing his attention between a computer, to update the online calendar for the club's website, and a mixing board.

On stage, singer, guitarist, and all-around swell guy Peter Stanley is prattling into a microphone and noodling on his red Gibson Firebird to check and double check the levels in the monitors. Looking up, Johnnie lifts a hand from the keyboard, turns just three of the board's hundred or so dials, and returns to his task. He's been here before.

Kneeling next to Stanley, harmonica player Brad Kava aims a penlight into an equipment case to fish out a harp. Behind Kava, Chris Trevisan warms up at his keyboard, switching variously from a punchy Fender Rhodes sound to the heavenly tones of a Hammond B-3. Meanwhile, the rhythm section (Gregory Sandoval on drums and John Braselton on bass) crash and rumble through their pre-show calisthenics. Doghouse Riley is about to tear up JJ's postage-stamp stage, and it doesn't seem to bother anyone that there are currently more people up there than in the audience. Wait, scratch that; here come a couple of friends.

Doghouse Riley has been filling the early-show slot at JJ's three Mondays a month for two years now. A jam of local pros, some of whom play in bands fronted by the likes of Carlos Santana, follows at around 9 or 9:30, depending on how long it takes Doghouse Riley to pack up its gear. With rare exceptions there's no cover at JJ's on Sunday through Thursday, so a working stiff like me can begin the week with a couple of beers, an hour or two of what Stanley jokingly calls "the suburban blues," and still be home by 10.

Kidding aside, suburban blues is not a terrible description for Doghouse Riley's music. Yes you'll hear traditional blues chestnuts like "Born Under A Bad Sign," "Mama Talk To Your Daughter," and "If You Love Me Like You Say," but the band also sprinkles more contemporary covers into its set, including ZZ Top's, "Jesus Just Left Chicago" and, on a recent night, no less than two Steely Dan numbers ("That was a song by those great blues pioneers, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker," Kava jokes after grinding through "Pretzel Logic").

Which is not to suggest that Doghouse Riley is just another cover band. These guys are serious about their music and respectful of its roots, although never morbidly so. Kava is a man possessed when he's wailing on his harp, producing everything from low freight-train moans to those classic harmonica squeaks; by the end of the 90-plus minute set he's pretty much drenched. Trevisan varies his sound from song to song, sometimes exploring synthesized tones that you might expect from Steve Molitz of Particle, other times channeling the great Jimmy Smith. As for Stanley, he finds ways to surprise his audience all night long, crafting fluid leads that benefit from an intuitive touch, a deft hand when speed is the need, and a willingness to simply have some fun (the Los Lobos rocker "Don't Worry Baby" is interrupted, but only once, by the famous Jimmy Page riff in Led Zeppelin's head-banger anthem "How Many More Times").

JJ's is the perfect place for this sort of thing. The walls of the long, narrow space are covered by lots of mirrors and even more photographs of famous blues artists, many of whom make regular pilgrimages to tiny JJ's when they are passing through town on tours that typically take them to larger, more lucrative rooms. There are also pictures of people you've never heard of, which is an important part of Johnnie's mission for JJ's: to give emerging artists a safe and friendly place where they can refine their craft.

That's why Doghouse Riley is here on Monday nights. It certainly isn't for the money. At the end of the evening, as the band members are loading amps and instruments into their cars, Stanley hands each player a five-dollar bill, an equal share from the night's tip jar. Even in the suburbs, you've got to suffer if you want to sing the blues.

Doghouse Riley plays every Monday, except the first Monday of the month, at JJ's Blues, 3439 Stevens Creek Blvd., San Jose; (408) 243-6441. Music starts about 7pm and admission is free. 21 and over.

New Inside Talk Radio Site Bound to Stir Interest

An anonymous insider has started a great blog, that gives tips to callers (how to get past the screener); wannabe guests (do you need a publicist?); future radio stars.

I expect that it will be a big buzz in the Bay Area soon. Wish I had a piece of it.

check it out.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ward Gets June Trial Date

"This is a tough story for us to cover,'' KGO newsman John Bristow told listeners today at the San Francisco Federal Courthouse, where KGO host Bernie Ward got a June 10 trial date on charges of downloading and distributing child pornography.

Ward commented on air, saying that the law made no distinctions about why he had the pornography, which he said was part of research for a book.

"The government acknowledged I was writing a book; it acknowledged I have no criminal record; it acknowledged I had no pornography on my computer and I've never done it before," said Ward, who could face a mandatory five years in prison if convicted.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

In honor of Bernie Ward, I give you this website that documents Bush lies

If Bernie were on the radio, he'd be railing about this, and would have the right to say I TOLD YOU SO.

Almost everyone else on talk radio either fell for the lies or propogated them willingly, but Ward and Ray Taliafero fought on the right side, against the tide.

Here's the site:

Does anyone else remember the early days of the war, when radio reports were filled with news about how they were finding weapons and labs in ice cream trucks and bunkers?

I wish I had those on tape to play now. The media...almost all of it....really let us down.

And losing voices like Ward's will hurt more than we can know.

As some have said: nothing is easier to manipulate than a public that doesn't even know it's being manipulated.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bernie Ward hearing Thursday

Bernie Ward, the talk show host accused of possessing and trafficking child pornography, appears in Federal Court in San Francisco Thursday at 1:30 p.m. before Judge Vaughn Walker.

KGO general manager Mickey Luckoff was quoted confusingly by ABC news saying that Ward has been fired, but that Luckoff wants to bring the host back.

You can read the latest from Bernie here.

Ward's Sunday "God Talk" show has been taken for now by Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who does a show on conservative talk station KSFO-AM, KGO's sister station.

Ward was caught with three illegal photos, which he says he was using as part of research for a book on hypocrisy.

His liberal talk show has been filled by Karel, Brian Copeland and --somewhat sacrilegiously, by conservative Bill Wattenburg.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

KGO radio bringing back Michael Finney's Consumer Show Saturday 4-7 p.m.

Michael Finney's popular consumer show will return Saturday afternoons at 4 p.m. Finney, the KGO TV reporter, was dropped from his Sunday slot, but will return this week , according to advertising on the station.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

413 Global Warming Denying "Scientists" debunked

Here' s a story that looks into the credentials of the supposed scientists who have signed a petition denying global warming. The petition has been a big topic on the talk shows of fellow deniers such as Rush Limbaugh, the Sewage Nation, Bill Wattenburg etc.

Read it here.

The list includes 44 TV weatherman, those ground breaking edge cutters of technology; 20 economists; 84 who are on the payroll of the fossil fuel industry and a bunch with no credentials. This is the kind of report sanctioned by a government headed by a mediocre student who could trick an unquestioning public into fighting a war in Iraq, when the enemies were in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.

So crank up those SUVs; forget about the environment and lets keep racing toward doomsday.

PS: this is what great journalism is all about. Taking the time to do the research. Congrats to AOL's

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Vince Neil brings up Tony Lindsay at Tony LaRussa's Charity Benefit

Call me a rain wimp. Friday's storms kept me in Santa Cruz. The pictures and video tell me I should have driven to Walnut Creek for the Tony LaRussa show with Vince Neil, Santana singer Tony Lindsay and Eric Martin.

An aside...I had the wierdest experience the night before, watching a Santana live show at Yahoo live while IMing Lindsay on AOL. The Nissan-sponsored show from Los Angeles --his first taped since returning to the band over the summer--was excellent. I was giving him a live review while watching...and I have to say that Santana is SO much better with him and the other singer, Andy Vargas.

Vargas's voice wasn't strong enough to carry the show alone, but with Tony, and backups from Carlos, the singing matched the strength of the drums, which matched the power of the guitar.

Viva Santana at full strength!

Lindsay, a regular around San Jose and the Peninsula with his own band, also co-wrote the opening Santana number, "Interplanetary Dance Party." He'll be out on the road with Santana all year.

My best concert source and photographer, Bret from San Jose took the photos and recounted a set that included Tony singing backup on "Dr. Feelgood,'' "Smokin' in the Boy's Room," Led Zep's "Rock and Roll" and "Girls, Girls, Girls."

I have to say, a set by a band that incorporates Santana, Motley Crue and Mr. Big would have been something to see, and shows another reason why we have it so good in the Bay Area.

Video to come!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Ronn Owens, Peter Laufer, LIVE 105 and Rob Black in this week's column

My Oakland Trib Column follows:

These weeks between December 12 and January 10 are my favorite in radio. Why? Because there are no ratings done, so anything and everything gets aired.

Commercial radio stretches its boundaries for better and worse. Some is terrible, some inspired, but it’s all surprising, something advertising-supported radio lacks too much of the time.

Regular hosts take vacations, so you get to hear the minor leagues and possible future, and stations sign talent for the coming year.

First, in the news department: KITS-FM (105.3) has signed morning hosts Woody, Tony and Ravey to a multi-year deal, throwing water on the rumors that have them replaced by everyone from Adam Carolla to Mancow Muller.

They start January 2, to get a warmup before ratings start. “We feel great about the progress the show has made the past couple of years,” says Live 105’s Steve Dinardo. “We’re looking forward to good things.”

Carolla has also been re-signed to do his morning show in some CBS markets, including Los Angeles and Phoenix, but the network has split him from Danny Bonaduce. The former Partridge Family bassist will do his own show, despite the fact that the two were bringing in their highest ratings.

Carolla won’t be heard in the Bay Area on his former home, KYCY-AM (1550). Money man Rob Black takes the 7 to 9 a.m. slot. I’ve been a fan of his since his early days broadcasting from Washington, D.C. He makes stock picking as much fun as fantasy football, with a more enriching outcome (one hopes) and a selection of great music behind him.

The station is moving toward becoming a financial outpost, but still has contractual obligations to shows by Opie and Anthony, Ray Lucia, and Tom Leykis. And it plays podcasts submitted by listeners overnights. It also is the AM home of the Oakland A’s and Cal basketball.

KYCY calls itself KYOU, even though by law it has to maintain its old call letters, says station manager Greg Nemitz. The FCC wouldn’t give it the letters it wants. Sports station KTCT-AM (1050) is in the same boat. It calls itself KNBR, like its sister station at 680-AM, but not officially.


Former KPFA-FM (94.1) host Peter Laufer has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging racial discrimination in his firing last month from the most liberal station on the radio dial.

Laufer is white, and says in his complaint that he was replaced by another white host,
Mitch Kvserich, with “a long history of involvement with African American issues.”

His suit quotes a comment news anchor Dennis Bernstein gave to the East Bay Express in November, that the station “wanted someone of color.”

In firing him, the station declared that Laufer “just wasn’t working out.”

The station didn’t return a call for comment.

I appeared on KGO-AM’s (810) Ronn Owens on Friday Dec. 21, playing two hours of Bay Area music for a show entitled “The Best Music You’ve Never Heard.”

For five years I did the show with Pete Wilson, who died last July, and Ronn wanted to revive it in his honor. It worked. Something was shining down on us. Must have been the oversized image of Wilson’s head they put on his old studio chair.

For two hours we got no turkeys, just really great unsigned bands, including Sherry Austin, Mighty Mike Schermer, Colby Pollard, Lauren and Judge Murphy, the Attila and Dave Project and the Wicked Sons.

You can get the list and links to their sites at You’ll be surprised at how much great talent there is in the area, and how many great musicians can’t get signed to major labels anymore.

We’ll do the show again in 2008.

Another KGO tidbit: Station manager Mickey Luckoff did a two-hour appearance on Santa Cruz’s KSCO-AM (1080) that you can download at

Radio fans will love it. It’s part train wreck, part real inside look at the man who has been the most successful station manager in the Bay Area.

Two things I learned: 1) KGO, while the Bay’s top station for more than 30 years, isn’t the most successful station of all time. St. Louis’s KMOX-AM has been top in its market since 1972. KGO, has been top dog in the top 15 biggest markets since 1978.

And 2) KSCO-AM used to check its traffic updates by listening to KCBS-AM (740). When its traffic director told that to Luckoff, who was a guest at the station some years ago, Luckoff immediately beefed up his Santa Cruz traffic coverage.

(Photo: from left: woody, the boss, dave, and greg)