22 August 2004

Portland AM Radio Rundown

I listen principally to three Portland radio station. I used to listen to a whole lot more, but then again, Portland radio used to be a whole lot more interesting.

In the 90's no matter what your tastes there was something that was interesting and local. Now, in the days of Entercom, Infinity, and Clear Channel, there ain't much. We hear stuff that everyone everywhere hears, including ads from merchants who don't have a store within 1000 miles of here.

Anyway, these days there's really only four AM radio stations of note:

KXL AM 750. This was the radio station I religiously listened to when I returned to Portland in 1991. Great selection of real decent, local hosts. I still fondly remember Bob Swanson and Bill Gallagher. Today? Feh. It's like our little local radio version of Fox News. The only local voice still on it is Lars Larson, and he's found syndicated heaven since honing his irritating conservative talk. I swear, he's the only man I know of who's voice irritates me even when I agree with him. Not saying, of course, that that happens often. He's the sort of smug-bastard arrogant righty that drives sane people to thier CD players. They also have Michael Savage. Any station who seriously puts Savage on the radio should be ashamed of themselves. And O'Relly is such a sanctimonious twit that he makes be begin a sentence with a conjunction.

In the early and mid 90's, I could leave KXL on all day. These days, I can hardly bear to admit it exists.

KPAM 860 amWhat a disappointment this station has been. When it debuted what, about four years ago I think, they came on with this big "Radio Free Oregon" campaign - Free your mind!!!. They had this real neat palette of locals, including a missed voice (Ralph Steadman), a really cool sports-connected fellow who never had an uninteresting story to tell ("Dream" Weaver) - I mean, how many local hosts had Bob Costas calling them in the middle of the night just to chat? Pete Schulberg had an extermely engaging morning show, and Dwight Jaynes was sassy and fun. And my favorite from KXL, Bill Gallagher, with his moderate-left talk style, showed up in the afternoon.

That started to flake off soon enough when Dr Pamplin didn't see the profits he'd hoped and his personal finanacial empire hit a rough spot. Dream Weaver went, followed by Steadman, and Gallagher was limited to an hour in the afternoon ("Gallagher's Crime Scene"). Now what are we left with? Jaynes a couple of hours in the PM, and the even-more-irritating than Lars Larson (I was surprised, but, yes, it's possible) Victor Boc.

When I heard Boc was in the top 100 influential voices in a industry publication, all that told me was that that bar is obviously set entirely too low.

Listen to him, I dare you. Angry white guy with a horrible nasal voice. Ai yi yi.

Oh all that and Sean Hannity too, which is another thing to be ashamed about.

Sure, Bob Miller (AM Drive time late of KEX titan) and old friend Jimmy Hollister is on (on the weekends) but since KPAM took a ton of promise only to end up sucking, why bother?

KEX 1190 AMThe only big boy left worth listening to. The Morning Update (5-9 AM) is the grandaddy of Portland radio morning shows. The great Barney Keep held court there for decades, then retired in favor of Bob Miller (who is now at KPAM). Since Bob has moved on, Paul Linnman has filled the spot and is doing so admirably. He's got chemistry with the morning crew, knows how to make a joke and keep the attitude up, and is generally just a good fella. The rest of the schedule is touch and go, with Rush Limbaugh (why isn't his 15 minutes up yet? especially after the drug abuse?) and Coast to Coast AM (that joke is entirely stale now). Although Troubleshooter Tom Martino is a bright spot after dark, regrettably, he's not local.

KPOJ 620 AM. This is the station I listen to the most. Right now it's because it's so nice to have an entire station with a left-wing point of view that doesn't act apologetic about it. Franken is a godsend, he's funny and right. Randi Rhodes is a kick in the ass. It's real weak on the local side, though. The news is done by Clear Channel Portland in-house voices clearly on loan from KEX (McLaren, Convery). And they did make the mistake of running those loathsome Francesoni ads. But you do have to pay the bills. Just wish i wasn't that way..

Over the next few weeks, as the mood hits me, I may expound at length upon a couple of bits of broadcast history as I remember it. In particular, what KPTV useter be, the legend that was Barney Keep, and that gosh-darn-likeable Paul Linnman.


Unknown said...

Do you know whether its still possible to catch Martino on am in portlan? He's not @ his spot on kex anymore.

Samuel John Klein said...

Well, I don't think he is on in PDX anymore. I can't seem to find him. And his site, www.troubleshooter.com, only has his referral list, no list of stations ... It's kind of impossible to find where he's broadcasting, if he is at all anymore.