I’ve never listened to Karel before.  From what I’ve read, in comments on the Facebook page of FormerKGOListeners and Rich Lieberman’s 415 Media blog, Karel has a polarizing effect on people.  No one shrugs a shoulder and says, ‘eh, I can take him or leave him.’   People either glorify him as an entertaining wit or condemn him as a loud-mouth clown.

Photo by de:Benutzer:KMJ

I wasn’t tuned in, back in 2008, to the drama of Karel’s impromptu comments on Joe the Plumber when the mic was mistakenly left on.  I’d never heard Karel before, unless he filled in for someone, but I don’t recall.  I know people wanted him back, from their comments on Ronn Owens’ ‘Up to 30’ segments.  Even then, it was a mix of people who wanted him back sprinkled in with some who, well…, didn’t.

So, after KGO had tossed out their talent in a 2-minute meeting on December 1st, (recapped in this sfgate.com article written by Ben Fong-Torres: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/25/PKLR1MCF77.DTL), I saw the post on FormerKGOListeners’ page that Karel would be hosting three of the former KGO hosts, Monday, December 19th, on his live-streaming internet show.  I really wanted to hear what Ray Taliaferro had to say, knowing he doesn’t hold back and we could expect some truth out of him instead of politely-paced, made for public consumption, type of comments.  Also, on the show, would be the beloved Gene Burns and the well-respected John Rothmann.  I could not wait!  On Monday, the 19th, I joined the online stream at least 20 minutes in advance so I wouldn’t miss a thing.

At 4:00pm, I thought, maybe, I had the wrong show.  There was music and commercial spots and confusion.  I had to keep checking the time thinking I’d either missed it or was mistaken on the day.  I even refreshed the browser twice, thinking the program had started while I was stuck listening to an old video of a former Karel show.  It was like riding a circus carousel, ’round and ’round, waiting for the golden ringing sound of Ray, John or Gene’s voice.  Finally, at thirteen minutes past the hour (I think it took that long, at least it felt like it) Karel’s voice came on and confirmed that, yes, this was the show with the former KGO hosts.

That’s when Karel went on a long commentary about how many had logged on to his show, going through numbers of watchers and those in the chat room.  Then he played more music!  Entire songs.  And some gawd-awful commercials that blared out of the speakers.  I had to turn down the volume many times.  Then Karel came back on and pitched his book and promoted his show.  It seemed hours had dragged by before he finally said, ‘And now, I welcome my guests to the show’.  I waited some more while he chit-chatted with some background technician about podding up this or not podding up that.  Meanwhile, chats were rolling on the right-hand side of the live video.  So many distractions and off-topic chats.  Like a three-ring circus.  Many of the chats were voicing what I was thinking, where are the guests?  Are they even there?  Were we going to sit through two hours of anticipation and end up with nothing again?  Like we did on that Saturday morning KSCO broadcast that had teased us with KGO hosts who never materialized.  I was ready to shut this thing off, but I really wanted to hear what his guests had to say.

After playing more songs…songs! Karel finally introduced Ray.  I turned up the volume and… and… another ear-splitting commercial interrupted Ray’s words.  Are you kidding me?  After an excruciating 30 seconds or so, the blaring commercial stopped, and we were able to hear Ray finish up his opening comments.  I hoped this stuff didn’t go out on any professional radio airwaves.  Overplaying commercials while invited guests were speaking.  Maybe on the radio it was a different listening experience than what I was having, I can only hope…

So it went for the rest of the show.  Most of it was Karel talking about how many people were tuned in and how he was there everyday doing this show.  Oh, and don’t forget to buy his book.  For a few segments he actually talked to the guests.  At least those were the only listenable moments.  Even for Karel.  He allowed Ray to talk about his last day at KGO.  That’s when we learned how abrupt the meeting was and how cold the Cumulus management were who handled it. Basically, it was you’re no longer needed, here’s your paperwork and checks and now you can be escorted to your desks to clean them out.

Someone, I think Gene, according to someone’s comment on the Facebook page of FormerKGOListeners, talked about how Ronn Owens’ agent tried to renegotiate Ronn’s contract two weeks prior to Cumulus letting most of their hosts go.  And some of them speculated if Ronn knew beforehand.

That was it for one hour.  I think it was Gene who left after that, and the other two, Ray and John, stayed for another hour.  Again, there was music and loud commercials and dead air and Karel trying to sell his book and endless reminders about his internet show.  When he allowed the guests to talk in the second hour, they were cut short by Karel expounding over his own experiences on KGO.  He cut off Ray in mid-sentence more than once.  I thought Ray would walk after the second one, but he remained courteous and professional and remained for the entire show.  Even when Karel asked Ray to spend some time saying his KGO goodbye to all of the listeners who wished to hear it, Karel couldn’t help interrupting even that so he could could talk about, what else, Karel.  I didn’t listen to the wrap-up.  I’d heard enough.  There were a few moments in the two-hour show when the former KGO guests actually spoke that saved the show from total disaster.

Usually, I’d go back and listen again to the podcast to recap the show but I can’t force myself to do even that.  The best argument against Karel’s show is the show itself.  How nice that he had Ray, John and Gene as guests.  But that doesn’t help how awful his show turned out to be, with the exception of his three wonderful guests.

Photo by Melissa Wiese

That is one carousel ride I will never go on again.  No, thank you, I will not be visiting that circus anytime soon.  There is only one thing missing on The Karel Show – a big, honking clown nose.

And a link to the podcast from me.

Here’s something better to click on.  Jim Sale, on the Facebook page of FormerKGOListeners, posted a link to an LA Times article about the FCC.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2011/12/fcc-commissioner-michael-copps-media-consolidation-.html

At least, that, will be time well-spent.

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