Monday, February 14, 2011

KGO and its 'Jewish Talk Show Hosts'; Is it an issue? I don't think so; Monday dish

Fact: KGO Radio has three full-time Jewish talk-show hosts in its line-up--four, when you count Marty Nemko on the weekend.

Ronn Owens, Gil Gross and John Rothmann all happen to be Jewish; I get significant e-mail from some folks saying that's a "problem." Problem? A few made it clear that all of the KGO tonsils have a distinct, pro-Israel, anti-Palestinean stand and that there's a clear and obvious bias when it comes to the Middle East debate.

I disagree.

Owens has always made it clear that he's firmly pro-Israel, but always tried to balance out his hours devoted to the issue by openly stating that he's Jewish, but is fair in taking calls from the other side. Anyone who's listened to his program knows that.

Rothmann, who devotes an extraordinary amount of time to Middle East issues and the Israeli-Palestinean topic, is also a firm defender of the Jewish state, but like Owens, encourages and relishes even those on the other side to take part in the debate. Just the other night, Rothman had on an Arab professor from UC Berkeley discussing the events in Egypt and how they could ultimately affect Israel. It was a candid discussion and enlightening program.

Gross sounds more middle-of-the-road--granted, he devotes more of his show to local issues and doesn't do much Middle East topics unless of course Egypt-like events take place.

As critical as I have been about KGO and its news division, I will say that its talk-show line-up tries diligently to reach out to the other side, not just on the Middle East, but other issues. For that, they deserve credit.

In addition, KGO is still one of the very few local radio stations left in this country that is not 100% ultra, right-wing dominated. Not only is that unique, but mostly beneficial to listeners who enjoy more variety of the political discourse.

For that, KGO is to be commended.


  1. You might mention that there are hosts who align much more closely with the pro-Palestinian view. Ray Taliaferro is one of them. Bernie Ward was definitely another.

    More of an issue, IMHO, is the absence of voices from the female side of the equation. For years now KGO has been dominated by men of the middle-aged persuasion and women have never really been given a chance to flourish there. Shawn Nix was on for a while, but she is long gone. Christine Craft was fantastic when she took over Bernie's spot for a while, but the powers that be never invited her into the boy's club. Now Pat Thurston is on board (I can't imagine why, but maybe it's just me). This is not exactly a balanced line-up.

    But, yeah, I definitely give KGO credit for what they do. I just wish they would live up to their potential. The could be a great station, but they are slipping into mediocrity.

  2. Very interesting blog, something the local press would never cover! I hope Rich allows common sense posts to be made aired.

    We're in the home of "Diversity". So where is it? Even Rich notes that 3 of the 4 major hosts are Jewish-American; so that's 75% of the lineup, whereas Jewish Americans (JA) make up 2% of our population? Interesting.

    I've been a KGO listener for maybe 20+ years, so I can think of additional related facts off the top of my head.

    1) For example, Len Tillem is Jewish, as is the recently retired Dr. Dean Edell. That take the prime-time spots to 5 outta 6?

    2) New weekend hosts David Lazarus, Rich Walcoff, the religion host (I forget his name) and Marty Nemko, I believe, are JA.

    3) If I recall, I think that fill-in-hosts Ravi Periman and Tara Fields are also JA. (I have no idea about other hosts like Brent Walters, Peter Collins, Bob Brinker, Joannie Greggains, Leo Laporte, Chris Belcher....)

    4) There seems to be a clear pattern of KGO having quite a string of new Jewish American hosts the past 5 or so years. (Tillem, Gross, Rothman, Walcoff, Nemko, religion guy, Lazarus, Periman, etc.)

    5) I lean Libertarian, but when they were looking for a full time replacement for Bernie Ward, I was hoping that Brian Copeland (African American) got the job. Might as well add some diversity! Something different. Especially with the retirement (forced?) of two long-time African-American newspeople (Rosie Allen, and the newsman from Oakland with the great voice!).

    6) Is it a coincidence that the former and current GM may both be Jewish American?

    I understand the deep oral traditions and cultural underpinnings as part of this... hey, I've had some of THE BEST debates, in my life, at the JCC on California in the City... but this pattern seems to go beyond this.

    Kudos to Rich for the topic!

  3. A previous poster beat me to the punch by mentioning all the other Jewish talk show hosts on the station. KGO definitely lacks a diversity of voices. The fact that the station is left-leaning does not excuse the lack of women and people of color in more prime time slots. But let’s be clear, I am not saying bring in any woman or any person of color and give them a prime slot. In particular I’m not fond of Brian Copeland. His style rubs me the wrong way, his topics are always popularity contests. For example yesterday on his first hour: Should Mubarak be allowed to live in a mansion owned by the Egyptian government in San Francisco? Yes or no! His topics are always that way. Also, I’m not sure why anyone calls him a comedian. He’s not funny at all. He laughs at his own jokes! That’s comedy 101. Don’t laugh at your own jokes dude!
    Pat Thurston is great. I’m a big fan of hers. Give her a prime slot KGO!

  4. Yes, it is a complete lack of diversity in any kind of real way. All white men, 50ish to 70ish, liberal, and many Jewish. Cm'mon, I wouldn't even mind if you had an Persian or Ethiopian person of Jewish faith.

    I agree with what the previous poster seems to hint at. Just don't add a weak person, to have the thin veil of "diversity". Dr. Bill is a perfect example of a truly DIFFERENT voice on KGO. And Gene Burns, extremely smart, I can rarely predict what stance he will take, and yes, for what it is worth, he is "diverse" in that he has apparently battled through numerous health issues.

    But Pat Thurston, Shawn Nix, and Christine Craft? Blah. No. Weak. (And I add Walcoff there as well, he is repetitive an adds little new subject matter.)

    How about Rosie Allen or Lynn Jimenez? I don't think Allen would cut it (there were hints that she is very liberal), and she may not have been happy about her recent ouster. But Jimenez might be a great alternative. And Copeland can learn, with coaching.

  5. Ravi Peruman is a Hindu, not Jewish.
    The ethnicity, age or sex of the hosts don't matter to me. As long as they are engaging and are up front about their biases(Taliafero,Rothmann come to mind) but the faux objectiveness of Ronn Owens when it comes to Israel and African Americans rubs me the wrong way. His "Voice of Reason(tm)" bullshit gets old.

  6. Shann Nix would have been great but Pat Thurston(wasn't she the ambiguous gal on SNL??) and Cristine Craft are boooooooring....Craft seemed obsessed with Schwarzenegger, calling him "the boobengrabber" at every chance, and i suspect its the old schoolyard thing where she doth protest too much and wish her was "grabbin" her boobs...Craft really seems a bitter bitter old gal...

    as for the unending supply of Jews on the station i don't particularly care - are their views out of line with mainstream America on the subject of Israel? i doubt it...the real problem is they are getting older and even more boring if thats possible...Gil Gross has to be the dullest man in radio and Ronn Owens and Gene Burns ain't far behind...

  7. I don't care what KGO does. The Israel "first" crap gets real old and it is reflected in the anger of some callers and no doubt in KGO ratings. McGovern was a breath of fresh air whether you agree with him or not. Gene Burns himself has been critical of the slobbering hysterical jerks who label any criticism of Israel as anti-semitism. Pat is rough around the edges but that girl has gumption. Some of her callers were nearly in tears when McGovern spoke up for them and their cause. You could write a college text based on Owens illogic. You worry about the soft minded listeners who believe people like Dershowitz and Bolton know what is best for the USA.

  8. Didn't hear the McGovern interview; too bad he conflated justifiable criticism of Israel with ignorant remarks about Jewish influence in the media. Owen's show is cotton candy for the mind; he should be vilified for regularly disseminating falsehoods about the Israeli, Palestinian conflict. He's intellectually dishonest and rarely has guests with opposing points of view.

  9. I stopped listening when Pete Wison died and Bernie Ward went to prison.

  10. for the record, I , Bubba did not invent the moniker.."THE BOOBENGRABBER" that mr. anonymous finds so indicative of my alleged desire to have myself held down against my will in an elevator and be repeatedly groped by the worst governor in California history....that name was created and frequently used by my good friend far as age is concerned I'm older than some..younger than others..I don't think anyone gets to be all that good on talk radio ..until they've lived for quite a while..and I can't think of any prominent talk show hosts who are particularly young...can you? I really enjoyed Ms. Nix, but she hasn't been on the radio for many, many years. Lynn Jimenez does a great job when she fills for brinker. Pat's in her fifties.Rosie in her sixties, rush limbaugh in his sixties..How old is that howard stern fellow? even the muscle bound boobengrabber is in his sixties..but to you ..that's probably young..right? may you never would be more difficult for you than the rest of us methinks.

  11. lol, is that supposed to be you christine/bubba? lefty talk couldn't cut at what was that station, 1240 AM in Sacramento? i actually kind of liked 1240(and you) for a change of pace until i heard the goofball Malloy and his neverending rants on "THE BUSH CRIME FAMILY" "THE BUSH CRIME FAMILY" "THE BUSH CRIME FAMILY".. i don't particularly care for the boobengrabber but i find it peculiar that Arnold is the devil for whatever he did but ol' Bernie is still "your friend"...also, strange that i while i called you(?) a "BITTER, BITTER, old gal" you chose to focus on the "old" part...if you notice Rush still has fun as does Stern despite their advancing age while the KGO crew of Burns, Owens, Gross, Thurston, etc just sound old and stuffy, boooooring, dull, etc etc...

    if that is you christine, what are you so angry about? didn't you win that lawsuit, did they pay you enough money(or not)? something is bothering you...maybe its your advancing age and declining looks? it does happen to all of us(me too - right now turkey neck is setting in, gobble gobble :) )

  12. Wow, this topic brought out KGO host Bubba (aka Christine Craft). So glad to see that she has the gumption to support her "good friend" Bernie Ward (convicted felon, child pornography) over our former Governor (who was accused of acting like a sexist cad by several women).

    I'll never forget when Ms. Craft (tried) defended a 7-year-old girl (child) flying that plane across the US, ocean, or whatever, in an attempt to break a flying record with her father. Amazing!(The little girl died.)

    And per her comments about Arnold Schwarzenegger being the "worst governor", surely that goes to former Gov. Gray Davis, who spent record revenues on union perks, and gave the prison guards union record-breaking wage increases, all in exchange for millions of dollars of campaign funds?

    Search terms: San Francisco, talk radio, liberal hosts, listener feedback, Deidra Lieberman, Mickey Luckoff, Citadel, Michael Luckoff.

  13. and unlike you chicken livered pile...I don't hide who I am...
    The seven year old who died doing something she loved? I wasn't aware she needed 'DEFENDING".

    Bernie is my friend..and always will be.. I consider looking at forbidden pictures...a thought crime...I understand why there are strict penalties..I understand intimately the political aspirations of federal prosecutors..I believe they are sue me.

  14. 1240..the little 1,000 watt at time now a gospel hip hop station..It was fun to do the local show when my dad was near the end of his life..I couldn't practice law full time..because my dad needed daily catheterizations and lots and lots of care which I did totally by myself..the little local radio gig enabled me to have a few hours out of the house per day..When my dad died at 92..still 6'5" and 280 lbs and with severe aggressive dementia...I began working as a lawyer at a heritage law firm here in Sack of tomatoes where we help injured workers, the disabled and other such disempowered people.. It takes a significant amount of fundamental compassion (not the illusion of same)to do either thing and I regret neither.

  15. First, Bubba /Christine, I did enjoy hearing about how you took care of your Father, something many Americans don't think about as 50-million-plus Baby Boomers approach retirement. Who will take care of the aged, as our families fall apart?

    Per the child, you thought it was OK for her to consider such a dangerous activity, clearly at an age when she could not adequately judge the risk involved.

    Per Bernie Ward receiving and sending hundreds of child pornography photographs, and your belief that said felonies were a "thought crime" ... this speaks volumes. On top of this, you think that the federal prosecutors had political ambitions? OK, so I am officially confused: 1) Bernie claimed for 4 years that he was writing a book, though the evidence clearly showed that there was no book, he has never written a book before, and there was no manuscript; 2) then Bernie and his wife said that George Bush was after him; and 3) now you say that a federal prosecutor has ambitions. Which is true?

    I admire that you will stick with your friend through these trying times, but if he doesn't seek help for his sickness, that is so sad.

    Did you read Ward's "manuscript"?

    And what do you think about the dearth of diversity at liberal KGO radio? (Ironically, KABC radio in LA has several prominent African American hosts.)

  16. there were more than a hundred people looking at forbidden images on the computer as well as my friend..who admits his own hubris...pretty nearly destroyed him and his any event..prosecutors only prosecuted one person.. a high profile person..political motivations are a reality for prosecutors at any level..nothing new there..KGO is always fun for me..when I do the occasional fill..I hear more diverse views on KGO than anywhere else..don't you?

  17. Don't know if that is you, Christine, but if so, all I can say is THANK YOU!
    Thank you for calling out The Boobengrabber for what he is and thank you for your entertaining shows over the years. One thing I can say is that you are honorable and you don't play Ms Nice Girl in order to please the locker-room crowd. I only wish you were on the air in a regular spot. Failing that, why not have your own website where you would give some advance notice of your schedule. I never know when you are going to be on.

  18. Bubba, if you can please provide me with the title of an article, name of the author, and approximate date, I'll read said article /references. If there are 2 or 3, all the better.

    This said, of the articles I read during Ward's trial, this is what I recall. Ward (under the online persona of Vincentlio) entered into some online "naughty talk" with an adult dominatrix. No harm there, it's a free world. When said dominatrix ("Sexfairy2005") asked for photos, it was Ward who sent illegal pictures to her. She was appalled; contacted police; who then monitored the chats.

    Where were these 100 additional people?

    I hope that Ward has truly repented, but his anger seems constant.

    I enjoy Gene Burns and Dr. Bill, but no, KGO's topics and hosts aren't diverse. No talk about our exploding gang population, out-of-control public pensions, or even such local things as the implosion of the city of Hercules or the spike in crime in Walnut Creek and Antioch, for examples.

  19. re the out of control public pensions..there were adjustments in the form of increased pension contribution for state workers last year's budget which was discussed on least in the news segments. Check this out..the mayor of San Jose who keeps boo hoo hooing about how the public pensions will ruin the city....fails to mention the half million dollar take home of the police chief..I think the Merc ran the details..of all the salaries of the muckety=mucks...something the mayor really doesn't want to talk about...It 's so much easier to blame the type of worker with no clout.
    I think the rising crime rate is proportionally related to the loss of jobs, homes etc. yes?
    as far as my on air times at KGO...I do fill in

    when asked and when I can..thanks for the kind words.Christine Bubba Louise Craft