The World According to Keitho

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Archive for February, 2012

The dog days of February

Posted by keithosaunders on February 29, 2012

There’s no doubt about it — February is the most brutal sports watching month of the year.  After the Superbowl, which after all only takes up one evening, there is nothing but mid-season NBA and NHL games, meaningless college basketball games, and scattered baseball arbitration news.  Sure there was the Ryan Braun intrigue, which was about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Then there was the Jeremy Lin sensation, which was actually kind of fun, but then came the All Star break, killing any accrued basketball-watching momentum.

Did I mention the NHL All Star game and the Pro Bowl?  No?

Here is what the KNBR sports talk radio drive-time hosts have been talking about for the past two days:

Yesterday I was treated to an in-depth analysis of the NFL Combine workouts, where I learned about the inevitability of ESPN televising the event in future years.  You see, it wasn’t a question of if, but when.  Be still my beating heart…

Today I was held rapt (or was it hostage?) with NASCAR extra, as I learned that Danica Patrik’s tour debut consisted of four crashes.  Four!

February, you are a cruel wench.

Danica Patrick


Oh Manica!

Posted in sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

How low can you go?

Posted by keithosaunders on February 24, 2012

Just when you thought the Republicans could not sink any lower, they have gone on a rampage against — get this —  birth control.  Yes folks, brought to you by the people who gave you deregulation, the war on terror, and unlawful detention.  It would be laughable, but there’s nothing funny about wealthy white men attacking women’s rights.

These Orwellian scum have my utmost contempt.  The bar hasn’t been invented that’s low enough to prevent them from going under it.

With their recent ‘talking points’ attack on Planned Parenthood —  an organization that provides birth control, cancer screening, STD testing and abortions to 3 million women a year —  they have outdone themselves.  It’s as if, knowing that the White House is unattainable, their intent is to create as much racism, homophobia, and misogyny within their pathetic base, so as to yield a divided populous.

I’m no great fan of Obama.  His staff is chock full of people who are responsible for the financial meltdown, he dropped the ball on illegal detention, and he missed the chance to prosecute Bush administration war criminals.

In the end, Obama, like most politicians is beholden to big business, and hence, special interests.  Still, even allowing that he is a corporatist, he has managed to do some good.  He avoided a depression, got Detroit up on its feet, and took steps towards fixing health care.

My inclination has often been to say that there is not that much difference between the parties, but at this point how can anyone with half a brain not see the difference?  One party courts a progressive base, but is essentially just to the left of the center.  The other, at best is bat shit crazy, and at worst is a desperate, rabble-rousing, homophobic, racist, pack of miscreants.


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Scan it!

Posted by keithosaunders on February 16, 2012

In my last post I wrote about my road trip to and from Las Vegas in which I happened to listen to an hour or two of right-wing radio.  This prompted Verdon to comment about a childhood memory of being able to pick up a Mexican radio station from his home in the Southwest.

When it comes to matters of the radio the ultimate source to turn to is my best friend, and occasional guest-blogger, Jeff Mazzei.  Jeff was the program director for WCBS FM for over thirty years, and he knows radio like Charles Dickens knew adjectives.

Enough of my needless prattling.  I give you…Mr. Mazzei.


Guest blogging for Keith Saunders is like going to a concert expecting Cedar Walton to play only to find out that it’s Bill Walton.  But I’m here to expand on the subject of scanning for distant AM signals which is a subject dear to my heart having spent decades in the business.

Growing up in New York City, nighttime scanning for distant AM signals was great sport in the Marble Hill Projects.  For music, we loved WKBW from Buffalo which had an out-of-control nighttime disc jockey named Jack Armstrong.  But the real thrill was CKLW from Detroit which understandably had the inside track to all the new Motown releases, and we all felt as if we had the underground r & b pipeline to Motown a week ahead of everyone else.  In the summer, we scanned baseball games from Boston, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Cincinnati to go with the Mets & Yankees.

But on the west coast, they had a unique scanning experience.  In the U.S. & Canada, the legal power limit for an AM station is 50, 000 watts in order to protect stations from interfering with each other within a reasonable distance.  Mexico was never interested in such good will, so their legal limit is 250,000 watts.

One such station was XERB in Rosarito Beach with a 250,000 watt transmitter near San Diego.  This was the station that hired Wolfman Jack who became a radio icon with his unique brand of announcing.  He was not only a wild man on the air, but he exposed the west coast audience to r & b records that were never played on most west coast top 40 stations, and it was not uncommon for Wolfman to say hello to his listeners in Portland and Vancouver.

XERB actually had offices in Chula Vista, California and on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.  They also made money by selling time to pentecostal preachers who solicited donations.  One such preacher, Reverend Ike, had the sales pitch, “The worst thing you can do for the poor people is to be one of them, so send me your donations!”

I had the pleasure of working with Wolfman Jack (or as his co-workers called him, “Wolfie”) in New York at WNBC.  The real life Wolfman Jack was not unlike his on-air persona, but it was more low-key.  It alway amused me that this wild man of the airways with the zany moniker of Wolfman Jack actually had the most mundane of real names—–Bob Smith.

Sadly, both Wolfman Jack and XERB have passed from the scene, and CKLW in Detroit no longer is spinning Motown exclusives, but scanning never dies.  There are still baseball games hiding up there somewhere on a hot summer night.  It just takes a little patience and a talented wrist.  Scan it!!

Bill Walton

Cedar Walton

Posted in media | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The right of the dial

Posted by keithosaunders on February 10, 2012

I spent the last weekend in Las Vegas visiting my father.  Having grown up in Brooklyn and Queens, my Dad is a lifelong Giants fan, and since my regular Sunday gig was cancelled due to the game, I decided to make the trek down to watch it with him.

This is the third time I’ve made the drive from the Bay Area to Vegas.  It is a deceptively long drive.  If you could drive on a direct angle from Berkeley to Vegas it would probably be a six or seven hour trip.  Thanks to the Sierra Nevada range, however, this is impossible.  You have to drive south to Bakersfield on I 5, cut over east on a 150 mile mountain pass road — rt 58 — and finally, at Barstow, turn North onto I 15.  It is a nine-hour drive, that is if you don’t stop.

Fortunately I love driving.  I’m an animal behind the wheel and can drive great distances without tiring.  All I need are some good sounds to spur me on and I’m happy.  I’ve driven cross-country on two consecutive years, with a third trip looming this summer as my oldest boy is going to be going to school back east.

After the game (and what a game!) I decided to drive home rather than have to wake up at 5AM the next morning.  I had to be back by Monday night for a gig and I knew I could make great time at night.

I know enough to pull over when I’m tired.  It’s amazing how effective a ten minute cat nap can be.  I ended up needing to take two of them — one at 2Am, and the other at 4AM.  I arrived home safe and sound at 5:30.

About halfway through the drive I decided to take a break from my ipod and tune in to some right-wing radio.  I expected to become upset while listening to their vitriol, but in the end I only felt a sense of bemusement and pity.

I mean, they’ve got nothing.  Literally nothing.   All they have to talk about is their hatred of Obama, and their love of the lord.  Obama is a socialist, and the lord is their savior.

I feel sorry for them.  They don’t want to talk about Romney — they hate him.  They’re embarrassed by Gingrich, because

a) he’s too smart for them


b) his checkered history disturbs them.

Ron Paul is too liberal for them, and even these nutcases realize that Santorum has no shot.

One host claimed to know exactly when Armageddon was coming, but you had to buy his book to find out when and how.  I’m sure it would be a great read but I’m going to save my thirty bucks.

I ended up staying with right-wing radio for a good hundred miles.  I couldn’t turn away.  It was extremely entertaining.

Posted in football, life, media | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »


Posted by keithosaunders on February 1, 2012

Have you all noticed how loud life is getting?  I’m not talking about the street noise of a bustling city — I like the mayhem of honking horns and people screaming good-naturedly, or angrily at each other.  I’m talking about ancillary noise that did not exist a decade ago.

When you go to a movie, even before the trailers begin, there are commercials playing at an uncomfortable volume.  Forget the feature, which is deafening.

When I lived in New York I used to dread walking by the Peruvian folk bands playing on the street, or in the subway stations.  You know those guys:  They’re  the ones with the amplified pan flute players.  What is it with the pan flute anyway?  First of all, the instrument itself is an abomination.  Second of all, nobody wants to hear it.  And third of all, they are particularly offensive when PLAYED THROUGH MARSHALL STACKS!

Closer to home, I am distressed about how loud jazz music has become.  In the old days bass players didn’t have amps — they were felt more than heard.  Perhaps this explains why they felt so good!  These days you have bass players playing through amplification at uncomfortably loud levels.  The drummer ends up having to play louder, and the horns and piano require micing.  Ultimately, unless you’re playing at a serious listening venue,  the audience talks louder.  It’s a vicious cycle.   Or is it a vicious circle?


It’s vicious.


Posted in jazz | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »