I love local radio, the kind with jingling and jangling commercials for the heating and cooling company and the restaurant that lists its menu as if you’re going to be astonished to find a selection of salads available along with the finest steaks and seafood. In other words, I listen to KNWZ, which bills itself as “The Voice of the Valley.”
KNWZ’s overnight program is Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, as in “Mysterious Metallic Spheres Land in Vietnam.” It’s not my kind of show, but I maintain respectfulness in honor of a friend who listened during her insomniac hours. She knew all about host Art Bell’s Filipino wife and that they decamped to her native country after struggling with United States immigration authorities, leading to Noory’s takeover. Her enthusiasm would build, face filling with childlike wonder, as she talked about Sasquatch and aliens and the paranormal. Such avidity demands its due. Although I say this fare isn’t really my kind of thing, Sasquatch is the exception; I might even have to track down a copy of Encounters with Flying Humanoids, written by one of the show’s guests.
An improvement to my life is This Morning, America’s First News, with Gordon Deal. Either KNWZ recently started airing this program in the five o’clock hour or it was being aired all along and I only noticed within the last eight weeks. (The station hasn’t responded to a request for clarification.) In fact, the improvement is great enough to prompt yesterday’s email to Gordon Deal:
I want to let you know how much I appreciate This Morning, America’s First News. As a freelance writer (with a bit of radio in my background), I also drive about 15 hours per week for Uber. So I’m out early three or four weekday mornings. I don’t even remember what our local KNWZ station had been airing at 5 a.m., but a couple of months ago your show started up and what a gift to me! I like the format with brief news summaries followed by features that go behind the news. The repartee is good. I appreciate the eclectic approach and even-handedness. It reminds me of NPR’s style but without the handwringing and patronization.
Within a half-hour Deal had responded, labeling my note “thoughtful.”
After the network’s 6.00 a.m. news summary, KNWZ carries The Bill Feingold Show featuring Kevin Holmes, who call themselves “the Valley’s favorite talkers.” It has to be one of the most unique radio shows in the United States. Feingold goes by Bulldog, but he sounds more like a nasally congested six-week-old Maltipoo with a Brooklyn accent and a leaky gossip valve. So much for the booming broadcast voices of yore. Serving as his foil, Holmes, the former board-op before his elevation to co-host, is dismally dull and scant of facts. Even the program director and newsreader Bill Cashin ridicules his shallowness. And crabby? Holmes hates going offroading in his partner Lazlo’s Range Rover, hates actor so-and-so, hates people who leave reindeer antlers on their cars after New Year’s. Grumble, grumble.
The worst thing about Bulldog and Kevin is that I can’t recall them ever making me laugh. Gay double-entendres aren’t any funnier than straight ones. Sarcasm isn’t wit. Contrast this paucity of mirth with Colin Cowherd, my favorite talk host, who racks up several guffaws per hour on Fox Sports. Even Rush Limbaugh, when he follows Bulldog and Kevin’s persiflage at 9 a.m., is funny.
Besides all this, Bulldog can be rather fact-challenged himself, making me say, “You didn’t know that?” I’ve written him to propose a weekly call to the show in which I’d contribute information about a topic of local interest–specs on a plane in the aviation museum, why so many trees here are legumes, the relationship between a 1926 Wall Street IPO and a downtown Palm Springs landmark–but no response.
At his best, though, Bulldog’s an astute guy: for example, his unsparing assessments of former mayor Steve Pougnet after the FBI raided Palm Springs city hall. When lives up to his nickname, he can be quite good, as in this week’s interview with new mayor Rob Moon. His regular chats with an economics expert are first-rate. Bulldog also has a touching, generous side. And the show gives a good overview of what’s happening around town. Best of all, it reflects the uniqueness of Palm Springs: you’d never find a flatulent gabfest like this in Spokane or Lincoln or Knoxville.
Of course, local radio would be nothing without call-ins. That means I keep the KNWZ phone number in my favorites. I’m still a bit miffed about being caller number five, instead of number seven, on those Abba Mania tickets. Is it too late to demand an audit?