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K-Talk (KTKK-AM 630) Radio

Well, I read my friend Fran’s opinion on K-Talk Radio’s change in lineup. You can find that on his blog here: http://freewest.blogspot.com/ It inspired me to write something myself about the issue.

For those of you who don’t know, K-Talk is a local Utah radio station that broadcasts on the AM dial (AM 630). They are a talk radio station and, up until recently, were probably the last of the truly free speech stations on the air. There was nothing else like it! The hosts were, for the most part, unpaid amateurs, the station was funded entirely by commercials (no government money), and the shows ranged all over the political spectrum. Well, the station as we knew it is now dead.

Why?

Well, there are plenty of theories. There are those who believe that one of the new hosts moved in and began “taking over” the place by insinuating himself into everything and eventually ruinning the joint. While there is cirumstantial evidence for this, I doubt it’s the truth.

There are those who believe that the management plans to sell the place, so they’re “shaking it up” and hoping to “improve ratings” so it will be worth more. This doesn’t hold much water considering the station’s past and the fact that the new “shakeup” is going to do everything BUT improve ratings.

So what’s the reasoning? Well, to be honest, I believe it’s purely politics. Literally. The ownership of the station is Republican and has probably been getting flak for some time over their “cookey little station.” Many of the things said on various shows on the station have definitely been pretty controversial (to say the least) and, internally, the station has always had an active and belligerant back-stabbing political atmosphere.

Before we really get into this, let’s review the players in this little drama. These are, of course, my own opinions of these people. You can hate me if you want. I won’t mind. When reading the following, imagine photos appearing of the persons mentioned with various expressions on their faces (happy, snide, innocent, evil, etc.). It’s fun!

The Station: K-Talk is on the AM dial, as mentioned, and broadcasts at a whopping 1,000 watts (500 after dark). It is located in Sandy, Utah, and has been a stalwart of controversial, libertarian, and conservative politics for a very long time here in the Salt Lake Valley.

Dick Perry: the largest-share owner of the station, what he says basically goes. He’s not around much and generally hands most of the management over to Tom (below). He’s likeable enough, I guess, but has a kind of “backstabber” look in his eye. Maybe it’s just ’cause he’s shorter than me.

Tom Draschil: station manager and generally a very likeable type. In fact, even though we argue politically, I always thought Tom was a pretty good guy. He’s a good management type, though I don’t think he’s extremely knowledgeable about how a radio station operates financially.

Kristen (?): production manager at the station. She’s…well, awesome. The place would fall apart (once the duct tape finally gave) if she weren’t around. She’s a real and totally unappreciated asset there. Plus she has the cutest baby on the planet (not mine!). She’s not really a player at the station, but I felt she deserved some recognition somewhere, so I put it here. :)

Kitty Burton: a mainstay at the station who will still hang around after the building collapses and everyone goes home. I’m not sure what she gets out of being there, except maybe her psycotic ego needs something. All I know is that no politics take place inside the station without her getting her hands in it somewhere.

Jack Stockwell: 7am-9am host known as “Dr. Jack.” He’s a chiropractor, but mainly talks about politics and such. He’s a follower of the Lindon LaRouche movement, so probably has a screw or two loose somewhere, but has one of the better shows on the station regardless.

Jim Kirkwood: used to be in the 9am-11am slot. He’s Jewish, vegetarian, and takes karate. How you practice karate with Coke-bottle glasses on is something I’d like to see, but regardless, he enjoys calling himself a libertarian politically. I say “enjoys calling himself” because he’s not. He’s a neo-conservative all the way. The government can do no wrong by this guy. Most would at least consider him “statist.”

Jim Dexter: used to be in the 11am-1pm slot Mondays and Tuesdays. I worked with Jim for a long time and have known him for a while off-air as well. He’s a devout libertarian, though I argue with him over some viewpoints we don’t share. I believe that out of all the hosts on the station, Jim was the best interviewer on the air. He had some great guests on his show and has a way about him that makes for a great interview.

Barbara Jean: used to be in the 11am-1pm slot Wednesdays and Thursdays. To be honest, BJ has the worst radio presence and worst technical skills of all the hosts on K-talk…even the brand new ones. However, she also has the ability to converse on just about any controversial subject AND has had some of the greatest controversial and downright conspiranoid guests, bar none. For such a little lady, she has balls and will go anywhere to talk about any damn thing. Because of this, she probably has the biggest and most vocal fan following at K-Talk.

Gayle Ruzika(sp?): used to be on from 11am-1pm Fridays. Gayle is the head (or at least the figurehead) of the Eagle Forum, Utah’s most conservative political action group. I rarely agreed with anything she said, but she had a good show. Especially the noon to 1 “Constitution hour.” Always good stuff there.

Mark Marine (and company): used to be in the 1pm-3pm slot. The “credit show” is paid for by Mark Marine, who sells advertising and peddles his own car dealership during his time slot. Other than his financial contribution to the station, he didn’t have much pull. His show is sometimes interesting and informative, but many times just boring. I have personal problems with him as well, due to my own experience as his car dealership, but that’s a separate issue.

Shari Holweg: used to be in the 3pm-4pm slot. She’s a self-professed “Utah Democrat” and a fiery commentator to be sure. She’s a great lady and had an awesome show. Too bad it was only an hour.

Merril Cook: used to be in the 5pm-7pm “drive time” slot. To put it bluntly, Merrill is addicted to politics and the idea of himself being in public office. He’s the only man I know who’s spent 8 million dollars to get elected and sent to Washington, D.C. and then came home penniless. As Dexter put it once, Cook is so wishy-washy he can change opinions mid-syllable. I don’t like Cook and it’s for sure he doesn’t like me either. On the radio, he has the worst personality and the most drunken-sounding, non-enunciating voice possible.

Jim Sumpter: used to be the 7pm-9pm host. Relatively new to K-Talk, he did bring in a lot of technical updates to the station. However, as a radio host, he has all the voice and technical expertise of a pro, but the personality of a jackass after a full bucket of oats. I don’t really hate him, though, since I don’t really care about him personally. I do, however, now that he has had one of the worst shows in K-Talk history (and that’s including Kenny Buttro).

Dale Williams: has had various shows on the station and currently acts as “fill-in” for some hosts. Dale is a personal and good friend of mine. He’s one of the most libertarian people I know and would be much more than he is if he’d start believing more in himself. Dale also has had some of the greatest shows on the station as he has a good mixture of the talents of Barbara Jean, Jim Dexter, and Dale’s own libertarian style. With some real training, Dale could easily be a professional at this.

Kim “Sgt. Striker” Staker: not really an on-air personality, Kim has nevertheless pumped more heart, soul, and effort into the station than anyone else, bar none. He’s worked tirelessly (and for free) overnights, on weekends, at any hour of the day, all for the betterment of K-Talk. Kim deserves serious kudos for what he’s done.

Todd Larsen: currently the Tradio (Sundays) host, Todd has probably finally found his niche at the station. He was on-air with Dale Williams for a while, but wasn’t really cut out for talk radio hosting. To be honest, he’s not the brightest match in the book and has a too-limited subject range for talk radio.

Janet ?: I’m not sure what her job at the station is, but she has her own office. I think her official post is “hang around and look sour.” That seems to be her forte.

Kyle ?: I’m not sure when he’s on the air, but am happy to have avoided it for the most part. He’s been on during the day once or twice and seems to have only one talent: making sure that everyone knows he’s part black, American Indian, hispanic, Pacific Islander, and God knows what else. Race is his only issue and he sucks like a Hoover on the microphone.

Joe Jackson: not currently on the air, but was the ONLY professional host K-Talk has ever had. While I didn’t agree with him politically, he did have the best show on the air despite his pathetic slot (5am-7am). His voice, production values, ability to field subjects, and control of callers without constricting them is truly awe-inspiring to hear.

Now look at the people listed above and tell me who you think they’d keep around or give better time slots to… OK, now turn your thoughts 180 degrees and that’s reality.

Jim Sumpter is on mornings for about 3 hours, Jim Kirkwood was teamed with Merill Cook to make easily the worst drive-time show in the history of radio, while Dexter, Jackson, and Williams have no shows…

Now, since I’m such a political animal and have such a way with words and people, I’ll show you how I’d handle the station’s woes and how I would line up the shows:

5am-7am: goes to the highest bidder who’s stupid enough to wake up that early to do a radio show. Anyone is viable and bids are for a monthly schedule…

7am-9am: Stockwell can keep it. He seems to be doing pretty well there and I don’t see why this should be changed.

9am-11am: This is a rough one to decide, but I’d offer it to any of the following: Dale Williams, Barbara Jean, or Jim Dexter. They could even mix and match if they’d like, as it was before.

11am-2pm: Lunchtime needs a good host who can appeal to people for 30 minutes to an hour at a time (not someone who needs the entire three hours to do one show). So I’d say this spot is best suited for someone like Dale Williams or Shari Holweg.

3pm-5pm: Mark Marine can keep this slot (I believe it’s his current space with the new lineup), since he means income to the station and actually has a very unusual show, despite it’s shortcomings.

5pm-7pm: Joe Jackson and any good radio conservative/libertarian. Joe is a liberal, but the drive-time should be the hottest show of the station’s lineup. Mixing and matching Joe with one or two people throughout the week might also be a good idea. Joe Jackson and Fran Tully are great together. I think that Joe Jackson and Dale Williams or Jim Dexter would also be good.

7pm-9pm: Jim Sumpter had this spot before and seemed to be OK with it. I think he can have it back.

The rest of the time slots are syndicated, so there’s no point in screwing around with that. Although if someone really wants a spot between 9pm and 5am, I guess they could lobby for it. I, myself, would have fun with a once-weekly 11pm-2am spot, I think.

Weekends are kind of hodge-podge. I’d say that Saturday and Sunday would be good days for “live” blocks from, say, 10am-4pm. They could be lined up thusly:

10am-Noon: Kitty Burton

Noon-2pm: Jim Kirkwood

2pm-4pm: Dead Air since no one’s listening anymore anyway.

I’d have only a very few ground rules at the station:

1. Don’t break FCC rules. We test the “dump” button weekly to ensure it works, so you’d better learn how to use it…

2. If you call for someone to be “lined up and shot” you will be…well, lined up and shot!

3. I don’t care how inane they sound or how misbegotten their comments…callers are never “stupid”…

4. No caller will be held on for more than 3 minutes. NO exceptions. I don’t care if it’s the Pope or the President…THREE MINUTES!

5. You WILL pay attention to HAL 9000 and you WILL know when breaks are coming up so you DON’T end up talking into the commercials.

6. No one is to talk to the hosts during their shows, no matter how “important” whatever you have to say is. It can wait until the show is over! Keep the damn door shut, we’ll fix the air conditioning!

Well, there you have it. My commentary on K-Talk Radio. I don’t think that the ownership realises it yet, but the station is already a dead horse…it’s just that no one’s pushed the carcass off its feet yet.

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Got comments? Email me, dammit!

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