Posts Tagged ‘Pete Wilson’

If you missed it, Ed Baxter filled in for Gil’s Friday show.

http://www.talk910.com/media/podcast-gil-gross-gil_gross/gil-gross-82313-hr1-w-ed-23627479/

http://www.talk910.com/media/podcast-gil-gross-gil_gross/gil-gross-82313-hr2-w-ed-23627789/

http://www.talk910.com/media/podcast-gil-gross-gil_gross/gil-gross-82313-hr3-w-ed-23627884/

http://www.talk910.com/media/podcast-gil-gross-gil_gross/gil-gross-82313-hr-4-w-23627947/

Don’t miss Hour Four, where Sebastian Kunz presents his full production of Nerd News!

Plus, Ed has a new book out, Waiting at Red Lights:

http://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Red-Lights-Edward-Baxter/dp/0985736763

http://edbaxtermedia.com/waiting-at-red-lights/

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This past week, on the Facebook page of formerkgolisteners, they linked a post by that media blogger guy who wrote an unflattering piece about Gil.  Here’s the Facebook page if you want to read it, the post is dated August 19th:

https://www.facebook.com/FormerKGOListeners

It’s nice to see from the comments that Gil has many fans and I wasn’t surprised that many on Facebook did not appreciate the blogger guy using prominent names such as Gil as a tactic to try to pull in readers and, now, listeners, to his substandard radio show.  Back in December 2011, I had hopes the blogger guy was better than what he’s turned out to be.  For awhile, even, I used to link his posts but no longer want to lead readers there except for the comments on his blog, or, I should say, the comments he allows.  That guy censors criticism and I’ve had suspicions that he pads his own blog with favorable comments about how great he is, written by him, and how he has the best show on the radio.  Yeah, right.  Maybe he could partner with Yelp.

I’ve thought about going back and deleting all links to his blog, but I’ll leave those old posts that document the journey transitioning from hope to disgust in real-time postings.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to moderate comments.  I used to think I’d never censor comments, but I’m forced to put up a wall between spam and bots that would overwhelm any blog space.  I understand the need to moderate, it’s saved me considerable time.  Without it, I’d have to manually delete thousands of spam and fraud items.  I welcome readers who want to comment and actually join a conversation, but I’ve also had to reject a few trollish comments with choice words about my mental ability after posts about Armstrong & Getty.  Those comments added nothing except vitriol.

I don’t care to listen to screamers in the morning.  Some do.  I don’t.

Anyway…

I am thankful we have Gil here in the Bay Area, but his show in the past year has been less satisfying than in former years and on Fridays it is downright irritating.  I realize some of my dissatisfaction comes from listening to him every day except for Friday (unless his wife stays home or someone guest hosts).  We all know and recognize Gil’s talent as a broadcaster.  The frustration is in the change of his show’s format to chase PPM (Portable People Meter).

These are thoughts about PPM attributed to Gil that I found online in a September 2008 article written by Brad Kava:

http://www.examiner.com/article/lipstick-on-a-horse-s-ass-the-american-media-never-looked-worse

Maybe KGO-AM’s afternoon host Gil Gross said it best. With the new People Meter, which measures exactly what people are listening to, radio managers can tell that a conversation about the economy gets far fewer listeners than one about an out of context, inflammatory hit piece, like the pig comment.

Sadly, if he’s right, we’ve become a country of horses asses…and no lipstick is going to fix that.

I found another quote by an out-of-state GM who is not a fan of PPM:

http://www.pugetsoundradio.com/cgi-bin/forum/Blah.pl?m-1298563415/

Here’s one quote from a GM “I could go on for days about how radio is getting screwed by Arbitron’s PPM. We’ve become a reach  medium who programs to the meter measurement and not to listeners or to help clients with marketing issues. The most repulsive aspect  is the mediocrity it has caused, meaning all formats sound the same. Very sad. I loved this industry but now we are more of a commodity  than a good, tight place that listeners want to go to – to feel good and for our clients to reach those targets”. Another told us “PPM says  you are a ‘listener’ if you are exposed to the radio in a cab while on your cell phone for 5 minutes in a week  even if you didn’t hear the  station and you don’t even like it”

Here’s another discussion about PPM:

http://jacobsmedia.typepad.com/jacobs/ppm/

Jeff Vidler picked up on the theme by focusing on what he calls the “PPM engagement gap.”

Jeff points out that with the advent of PPM, it is no longer necessary for the audience to be engaged with a station as long as they are exposed to it.

The reality of this thinking is that while basic PPM tactics (less talk, more segues, staccato imaging, fewer charity events) can facilitate exposure, something is being lost in the fan engagement process.

Yet, in the digital and social worlds, it is all about making connections with audiences and communities.  And as Jeff notes, advertisers are thinking more and more about investing in marketing that engages and makes the best use of digital’s ability to connect people with brands.

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When searching the internet for information it’s difficult to take bias out of it.  I’ve located articles that support my opinion by bringing up search terms such as:

how PPM hurts radio

complaints about PPM

I realize that it’s easy to find articles I agree with when I’m not even looking for the opposing argument.  i’m going to continue to read about PPM to try and understand how it helps or hurts radio, and search for opposing opinions from mine.

I do base my negative comments about PPM on what I can hear.  Going back to discuss Gil’s show, I was an instant fan when he first joined KGO after Pete Wilson’s untimely death.  I heard Gil’s in-depth conversations, he sounded as if he enjoyed interacting with the audience, he interviewed politicians, book authors, comedians, musicians, people in the news, etc.

He had shows where he talked about his father and encouraged people to call in and talk about theirs.  He discussed beliefs and spiritualism and even Bernie Ward when no one else would touch that subject in 2008.  People called in crying, in disbelief, and Gil related how he’d noticed a change in Bernie and wondered what was going on.  He guided listeners through a difficult, sad time, both in Pete Wilson’s death and Bernie’s conviction.

Now, what we get from Gil are snippets of Politico interviews and him talking on-air to his producer and board operator and, ugh, his wife.  We get Gil standing in line at a supermarket to buy apples.  We get Gil doing mindless fluff like dumb criminals and teachers and whatever brainless story that is easily found on a Google search.

And, it seems we have no one to guide us.

Gil defends his show on the PPM numbers.  If you follow the link on the Facebook page of formerkgolisteners and read that blogger guy’s post about Gil, or, I should say, read the comments, someone said they emailed Gil to ask why he continues with the new format when so many do not like it and Gil responded.  Gil claimed the format change has increased ratings from 0.3 to 2.0.  Said he is doing what the station wants and it’s a business in the end and advertisers have no interest in a call-in talk format.  Said it’s probably not what the person wanted to hear, but it’s the truth.

Another commenter claims Gil doesn’t care.  The suits don’t care so why should he?

I hope that’s not true.

Gil should care, for the sake of talk radio in this market and for his friends on the show with him: Sebastian and Lloyd Lindsay Young and that producer and board operator he always drags on the air for their opinions instead of callers.

If this continues, we might have another news item like we had in December 2011, or even this one from back in 2000:

November 7, 2000

http://articles.philly.com/2000-11-07/news/25612553_1_sid-mark-beasley-broadcast-group-dave-donahue

“I found out a minute and a half before I thought I was going on the air,” said Gross yesterday. “That was fun.”

If you tuned in to WWDB before 5 p.m. yesterday, what you heard was an electronic voice counting backward from 6,000.

“That’s an old radio stunt,” said Gross. “The aim is to get people wondering ‘What’s going on there?’ to create interest in what’s coming next. And apparently word got around. A Lower Merion policeman told me someone called to report ‘a crazed woman was holding the station hostage while she counted.’ That was the first laugh I had all day.”

The countdown voice reached 3-2-1 at 5 p.m. at which point another voice announced: “Look out Philadelphia, here we come.” The station promised to bring listeners “the best of the ’80s.”

According to Paul Heine of the radio newsletter Friday Morning Quarterback, there has been a rash of stations switching to this ’80s format in recent months, presumably to attract 20- and 30-somethings nostalgic for the music of their high school years.

That’s a much younger audience than WWDB has been attracting.

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I truly hope not.  But if Gil won’t guide us through this, who will?

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I have a few more interesting articles on PPM, but no time to discuss them now.  Posts about phantom cumes and stories of PPM wearers.  Sounds like fun, huh?

Maybe in the next week or two since we have a long holiday weekend approaching…

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By the way, this past week on BBC Radio2 I heard about a new group who has an album coming out in September.  They have the potential to be the next big thing.

I think it was Simon Mayo, on BBC Radio2, who was interviewing a different popular group and a member of that group could not stop talking about a new group they’d heard in the studio where they’d been recording the previous afternoon.  He was talking about the new group, London Grammar.

BBC Radio2 decided to find out about this new group and they agreed London Grammar needed to get some airplay and that’s how it’s all started to happen for them.  You can listen to them here or follow the link to YouTube:

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6drfp_3823I

Hannah Reid, the lead singer, has a strong, clear voice, similar to Florence and the Machine, except Hannah doesn’t go off in those screaming, vocal-stretching episodes that, for me, degrades the listening experience. London Grammar has the ability to express emotion in a lead voice that does not have to shout and strain to showcase it.

https://www.facebook.com/londongrammar

http://www.londongrammar.com/ustour/

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Also, last week Stan explained his obsession with Radnich:

http://stan55chevy.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-stan-and-raddy-storymost-of-it.html

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Don’t forget to check Frosty’s page and podcasts:

http://www.talk910.com/pages/frosty.html

http://www.talk910.com/media/podcast-frosty-podcast-frosty/

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And, still no sign of Len Tillem.  Is he giving up as well?

Image by Eric Dufresne from Trois-Rivières, Canada CCA-2.0

“Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results”.  Many attribute this quote to Albert Einstein (although there is no originating source to access).  I’m no Einstein, but Arbitron’s PPM-based radio is a little bit of insanity.

I’ve discussed over and over again how unsatisfying Gil Gross’ radio program has been lately and how I’ve been trying to understand why.  It’s a shell of the programming we’d become accustomed to on KGO before the Cumulus Dick-eys gutted that talk station and threw the scraps to the listeners while they dined on the fleshy remains.

It’s not only talk radio that has been affected by this crazy style of programming.  Many music stations are chasing the PPM dream as well and music listeners notice the decline.  They, too, try to understand what is happening.  No matter how many listeners express outrage, radio programming continues the slide downward.  The following blog post written by Adam Hogue attempts to explain why radio content is no longer listenable and his idea on how to fix it:

http://www.policymic.com/articles/13624/the-radio-in-decline-the-radio-reinvented-why-we-must-update-our-radio-stations

He recognizes that PPM doesn’t benefit radio listeners, and he’s calling out the current state of radio.  In his analysis, he includes radio shows he finds satisfying with in-depth content.   One is Radiolab, a well-produced show that I’ve linked to in previous posts.  There are some great Radiolab episodes on podcast.  During times I can’t listen to Gil’s show any longer, and it’s getting to be more than just on Fridays, I seek out Radiolab episodes that bring back a sense of sanity in radio programming.

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Here’s a link to Radiolab‘s Episode Archive page:

http://www.radiolab.org/archive/

The nice thing about the Radiolab archives is the next episode will play automatically.  I like that.  I don’t have to continue to bring up the program, find the next podcast, and hit play.  I can let it run in the background.

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Adam Hogue also linked another program I’ve never listened to before.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/

I’m listening now to Episode 109, titled ‘Notes on Camp’, under the recently aired section.  It’s stories about summer camp and captures that culture of outdoor camaraderie seated around a crackling camp fire.

This definitely is an option to replace Gil’s show.

It’s not optimal, though,  because it’s a one-time per week broadcast, like RadiolabThis American Life episodes are only available for one week after broadcast, unless it’s downloaded to your computer.

Here’s their podcast page:

“Most weeks This American Life is the most popular podcast in the country, with more than a 800,000 people downloading each episode. When you subscribe to the free weekly podcast, episodes automatically download to your computer. Episodes are available for exactly one week, beginning the Monday after broadcast. Podcast content is the same as the radio broadcast, except on occasion when we include extra material on the podcast that had to be cut for time”

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http://www.thisamericanlife.org/podcast

(This page includes all of the links to subscribe for free, or download or where to find them on iTunes and Amazon.)

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The ‘Notes on Camp’ Episode explores the group experience.  In some ways, the old KGO talk-radio format was the Bay Area’s camp fire, where we all sat around as a group and listened to stories.  We listened to Gene Burns’ eloquence, and to Pete Wilson’s pirate talk, and Bernie Ward’s ego inflating rants before flattening to the ground with his felony conviction.

We listened in awe around that KGO camp fire, we laughed and we cried as a group and the non-KGO people didn’t understand what it meant to each and every one of us.

We are missing our local camp ground.

We have to search for John Rothmann, we wait for Len Tillem to post new podcasts, and we catch Ed Baxter sometimes filling in for Gil Gross.

There will always be a place for Gil’s show, when news is breaking or when a political issue needs to be analyzed, but it’s no longer a turn-it-on and leave-it-there type of show.  There’s no group sharing, listening to what one another has to say.

Unfortunately, Frosty is following that same path.  I enjoy listening to Frosty’s show, he has a different spoken style than Gil and I haven’t heard the same story from him ten or more times.  But the PPM way of ‘chasing ratings’ is what will ultimately chase me away to seek alternatives.

Summer camp is over.

Will the last person out please douse the embers of the once mighty flame.

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Here at the end I’ll leave you with this new post by the anti-pope about death and ants:

http://open.salon.com/blog/james_emm/2013/07/28/of_god_deathand_ants

Gil Gross, talk-show host on radio station KKSF-Newstalk 910-AM, interviewed comedian Paul Mercurio on his January 9th show, for a short segment on Hour 3.  I could have listened to Gil’s guest for an hour or more.  I also could have purchased tickets to Mercurio’s show at the Punchline on Saturday and I would have if I didn’t already have tickets to the musical  Anything Goes.  Sorry, Paul.  You were a great guest on Gil’s show.

Paul Mercurio talked about his relatives and his aging mother.  It was both interesting and hysterical. If you missed it, listen to the podcast (the Mercurio interview begins around 15:50 on the podcast):

http://www.newstalk910.com/player/?station=KKSF-AM&program_name=podcast&program_id=gil_gross.xml&mid=22766118

I’ve been listening to Gil nearly everyday since he took over for Pete Wilson on that other station this is now a wreck drifting in the sea of radio.  I followed him to KKSF-Newstalk 910-AM so I’ve heard all of his stories more than once.  Some I’ve heard five or more times.  Yes, they were interesting the first time, but after the fifth time they’ve lost their lustre.  So, it’s refreshing to hear good stories from other sources.  Mercurio would be an endless source.  Loved him.  Gil, please get him on the air again!

I haven’t been following anything about Cumulus for some time now.  Maybe they’ve sunk so low they are no longer relevant (fingers crossed!).

I don’t read that media blogger much any more.  What a disappointment that guy has been.  Throws out all of these breaking news/gossip stories that don’t happen and then fills the blog with promo pieces about his radio show that no one listens to.  Anyone who has heard him on the radio knows not to waste time on it.  It’s getting to the point where looking at his blog, even once a week, is a waste of time as well.  It was fun while it lasted…

Of course, I should mention, that the only people who bother to look at my blog are finding it by Google searching for Bernie Ward and Ray Taliaferro.

I don’t know what’s going on with Ray but Bernie has two new posts up on his blog, The Lion of the Left Speaks:

Sunday, December 16, 2012 – ‘Why’ (about the Connecticut shooting and gun violence)

http://lionoftheleft.blogspot.com/2012/12/why.html

Saturday, January 12, 2013 – ‘The Way of the Dodo’ (about football and brain trauma)

http://lionoftheleft.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-way-of-dodo.html

I haven’t had much time to listen to more Radiolab podcasts, but when I do I’ll share the ones I find interesting.

I think I’ll add my boycott Cumulus Media tag onto these posts from now on as well.  Never hurts to get the word out!  Cumulus sucks!  Don’t listen to any of their stations!

Oh, and don’t forget to visit the Facebook page of FormerKGOListeners and ‘like’ their page!  Here’s the link:

https://www.facebook.com/FormerKGOListeners

As always, Len Tillem is on KKSF-Newstalk 910-AM at 3:00pm every week day and Gil Gross follows him at 4:00pm.

These are links to podcasts of their shows:

Len Tillem the loyah!

http://www.newstalk910.com/cc-common/podcast/single_page.html?podcast=tillem

Gil Gross:

http://www.newstalk910.com/cc-common/podcast/single_page.html?podcast=gil_gross

And, with them, you get Lloyd Lindsay Young and Sebastian Kunz.  If you can’t get KKSF on the radio dial after dark, then you can stream the shows live on iHeart.  Just Google KKSF Newstalk 910-AM to find it, or simply follow the links I’ve left above and there is an option to listen live online.

I love hearing Gil Gross on the radio.  When he was hired as a replacement host after Pete Wilson’s untimely death, many of the on-air hosts let us, the listeners, know that Gil would never replace Pete Wilson but they were sure we’d welcome him as a worthy addition to KGO’s talk-show family.  Even Ronn Owens said it, and Ronn was the one who hated Pete Wilson’s chair but kept it in the studio after Pete’s death, promising he’d never move it out of there.

It’s wonderful that KKSF-Newstalk 910-AM is keeping some of the old KGO hosts on the air, in a rotating host spot to fill-in for Gene Burns until he recovers from a medical leave-of-absence.  You can hear these former hosts weekly after Len Tillem’s show, Monday-Friday, starting at 4:00pm through 7:00pm, except on Monday’s when they cut away an hour early for a prior sports commitment.

I want to embrace 910 from doing this, for taking on these great talents for us to enjoy.  But, it’s not yet a station I can click on in the morning and leave it on during the work day.  For one thing, I want to make sure I don’t listen to one word of the Rush show and the two guys in the early morning sound like they should be packing their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into their lunch bags and heading off for fifth grade.  Have you heard those promo spots for those guys?  Makes my head ache to hear that one guy screaming at the top of his lungs to make an idiotic point.  If I’d wanted to hear that sort of stuff in the morning I would have had kids.

But those guys have to take a vacation some time, right?  Well, yes they do, thankfully, and they will be gone for the next two weeks.  Hooray!

For the next two weeks, it will be safe to turn on 910-AM in the actual AM!  Former KGO hosts will be filling in on some of those days.  Gil Gross will be there from 6:00am to 9:00am both Monday and Tuesday.  I heard that Ed Baxter and Rosie Allen will be filling in on a few days as well.  Maybe even John Rothmann will show up.  I’m not sure, but we’ll have to listen to find out.

Also, I’m not sure who will be filling in for Gene on those days.  But at least it’s a start.  We’ll be able to hear some entertaining, intelligent talk radio once more.   Maybe when Gene is able to return, 910-AM might consider rotating these former hosts in another time slot.

Until then, all of you Gil Gross fans, tune in to 910-am for the early show!

Here’s the link to listen live:

http://www.newstalk910.com/main.html

…at least until 9:00am anyway, and then come back at 3:00pm for Len.

I’d always thought the song, ‘Without You’, was written by Harry Nilsson.  I mean, he owned that song.  I grew up with his vocals of it as a backdrop to my youth.  At the time I never thought about song origins.  It was just me and Harry and his wonderful song.

About ten years ago I found his Nilsson Schmilsson CD in the used section of Amoeba Records.  I didn’t realize it but the CD was a reissue of his original album and it included some previously unreleased demo tunes.  I did not expect the acoustic rawness captured in the ‘Without You’ demo.

Years later, when YouTube was popular, I was able to look up so many old songs and listen again.  I’d tried finding the Nilsson demo but it wasn’t posted, although I was able to find other oldies such as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ ‘I Put A Spell On You’ and the English version of Francoise Hardy’s ‘I Wish It Were Me’ and even full tracks of Demis Roussos when he was with the band Aphrodite’s Child and produced their psychedelic, progressive rock album ‘666’.

See?  You can still find them on YouTube:

If you’ve never seen this performance before, you’re in for a treat!  Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – I Put A Spell On You

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orNpH6iyokI&feature=related

Francoise Hardy – I Wish It Were Me

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeZkUAfo9KE

My favorite track from Demis Roussos’ group Aphrodite’s Child – Break

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WTNFuF6qiA

Finally, a few years ago, I found it.  The exact demo version of ‘Without You’ I’d been searching for had been posted to YouTube.

That’s when I found out it wasn’t really Harry’s song after all.  It wasn’t really even one song at all.  Originally, half of it was written by one man about a woman, and the other half was written by another man about another woman.  Those two men merged their songs during a practice session, an attempt to come up with more tracks for their second studio album, No Dice.  Those two men were Pete Ham and Tom Evans, original members of the British rock band Badfinger.  Tom hated the new song and pulled it from the album.  Pete loved the song and put it back in at the last minute.  ‘Without You’ was a mere fill-in track on the album, nothing more.  Then along came Harry.

I spent time listening and learning about the many variations of this song.  It’s a journey within itself.  I don’t have time or space to go into the story of the song ‘Without You’ here.  It has celebration, thievery, heart-ache, suicide, success, renewal and, in its more recent form, popularized dreck.

It’s a stretch to compare the journey of a song to the history of radio station KGO, but it’s funny how it all ends up the same.

It had humble beginnings, just another track for an album.  Two songs turned into one by Pete Ham and Tom Evans.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnb5JeK1hOo&feature=related

Just as KGO Radio had humble beginnings, written about in this article by John F. Schneider:

http://www.bayarearadio.org/schneider/kgo.shtml

KGO changed from a recorded music format to talk radio in the 1960s.  It became a powerhouse, ranking Number One in its market.

So did Harry with his song:

Harry Nilsson – Without You (the released version, live studio musicians, lush haunting vocals, overlapping chorus, recorded on 16 track with 2 track harmonies – produced by Richard Perry)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfxCED3okpg&feature=related

Gary Wright, most known for his song ‘Dream Weaver’, played piano in Nilsson’s studio version of ‘Without You’.  In a BBC Radio 2 interview program, Song Stories – The History of the Song ‘Without You’, created by Peter Waterman, in a discussion about the song and its popularity, Wright said that listeners heard in Nilsson’s vocals a man devastated and in great need.  People universally recognized something, true feelings.

Nilsson won the 1972 Grammy for the song and his album, ‘Nilsson Schmilsson’ turned out to be the most successful album of his career.

In 1994 Nilsson died of a heart attack at the age of 52.  Mariah Carey’s version of ‘Without You’ was released a week later.

Mariah Carey – Without You

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hat1Hc9SNwE&ob=av2n

Mariah belts out that song.  At the time, it was her biggest hit outside the U.S. and reached No. 3 in the U.S. market.  But, to some, her version lacks the heart of Harry.  It is more about Mariah hitting octaves and riffing than performing a tender ballad.  It is a wonderful version, but was recorded in a technological environment of drum machines and digital recording of the ’90s, a programmed sterile sound that doesn’t capture the real emotion of the song.

Now we come to the modern day destruction.  What we accept as entertainment in a world of reality shows.

The Bulgarian show ‘Music Idol’, aired a contestant on the show who sang ‘Without You’, or as she calls it, ‘Ken Lee’:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQt-h753jHI

I know you want to hear more, here’s a longer version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEbV5M59Xc8&feature=related

And, that, my friends is where we end up with the new KGO.  How did it all come to this?  Who gave Ken Lee the keys to the station?  The destruction of this song corresponds nicely, without having to say anything, about the sad, wrenching end of real talk radio as we knew it.

Sometimes we have to sit back and remember what we had.  This is raw but there is heart.  Something we are missing going into this New Year:

Harry Nilsson – Without You (demo)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hZI6qJBvDE

Goodbye Harry.  We miss you.

Goodbye KGO.  There’s a lot you can learn from a simple song and the disaster that is Ken Lee.  We won’t be looking back at the new KGO ten years from now.  We won’t look back two months from now.  You are on your own, new KGO.  One thing we can do is live without you.

Now, on to the New Year…

I can’t say I listened to Pete Wilson for years.  If I’d known he was on the air then I certainly would have tried to tune in.  If I had known I could stream an archive or download a podcast, although I’m not sure those options were available five years ago,  I would have.  But in 2007 I was a daytime newbie, I needed something to listen to at work, in the background, and I figured Ray Taliaferro and Bill Wattenburg were my nighttime guilty pleasures so maybe the daytime hosts would offer the same mix of entertainment and knowledge.

This was after I’d tried a month of Top 40, easy listening, and that all-news, all-the-time, station.  I tuned in to KGO out of desperation.

I didn’t pay much attention to the morning hosts, except for Len Tillem, the LOYyer, on for 45 minutes beginning at Noon.  But I did notice a change from early morning to an afternoon host whose style was engaging and informative.  I began to turn up the volume and lean in closer to the radio when he was on the air.  The host before him was okay, in the time slot before Len Tillem showed up, but this afternoon guy piqued my interest.  I smiled as I increased the volume, although, when I heard his name, I was confused.

Photo by Oliver Herold

Pete Wilson?  Former Governor of California?  It didn’t seem possible.  Then I looked up his information and realized that, yes, I knew who this guy was.  An anchor on local news.  Likable.  Made more sense than trying to attach his voice and personality to the former Governor.

The morning host always played in the background on my desk radio, at the time his content seemed drier;  it was Pete Wilson I paid attention to when he signed on after Len Tillem and Dr. Dean Edell.  It’s difficult to really listen while at work, I missed some good callers and topics when trying to get a job done.  But Pete Wilson stood out in my work day.  There was something about him that made you want to hear what he had to say.  He helped the afternoon fly by.

One afternoon Pete cut the topic and told his listeners he wanted to do something he usually does not do, talk about himself and his fears.  He dedicated a portion of his last hour to discussing something on his mind.  He was going into a scheduled surgery the next day and, for some reason, this time he was scared.  He said he always had  jitters before surgery, he’d had surgery on his hip one time before about ten years earlier, but there was something nagging and worrying him about this one.  He couldn’t explain what it was.  It felt different this time.  And he wanted to talk about it.

Callers assured him it’s normal to be fearful.  They shared their stories with him.  He laughed and commiserated with every one of them.  I felt that he was able to shake off some of his anxieties over it.  It was a moment in time over the airwaves, humanity helping one another through uncertain times.  It stood out.

He was not on-air Friday, July 20, 2007, the day of his hip surgery.  I missed him.

It’s always a wonderful feeling to wake up on a weekend.  You stretch, make coffee, turn on the tv and lounge on the couch while sipping caffeine from your favorite cup.

It didn’t register at first.  The news media announced the death of Pete Wilson.  I thought, oh my god, the former Governor of California has died.  I could see his face and kept thinking how, at his age, it seemed an early death.  But what they said next chilled me to the bone.  Pete Wilson had died of a massive heart attack while undergoing surgery for hip replacement.

My Pete Wilson?  From KGO?  There is a vulnerable moment when hearing this type of news.  If it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone.  What does it all mean?  Then the feeling of loss creeps in.  A great loss.  An unexpected impact of emotion for someone I never knew.  Genuine emotion, that flows from the heart to the universe beyond.  Please, take care of our Pete, who or whatever is out there.  A hole remains where his energy used to be.  An energy that cannot go unnoticed in the infinity of spirit.

I missed him even more as callers remembered Pete Wilson on the Monday after his death.  His pirate talk, his curiosity, his love of debate.  There was so much more to this man than I’d experienced in the few months I’d listened to him on KGO.  I wish I could have heard the Pete Wilson that everyone remembers.  But I’m honored to have heard him for the short time I did.  He was noticed and made a difference.  Isn’t that, after all, what we all want out of life?