Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

Politicos, prudes, and the paranoid protest the programming heard on Bay Area radio stations to the highest authority in the land -- the Federal Communications Commission

Blackhawk Director of Security Dan Black wrote: "We feel this was not just a dumb publicity stunt done in bad taste, but that it was a deliberate and blatant attempt to generate a controversial incident intended to cast this community in a bad light. This stunt ... could have caused a serious incident and could have endangered the participants or residents. ... Unfortunately, it also does not speak too well for the type of minds at work at that radio station."

KMEL's Kelley insists the letter overstates the incident. "We only had one van on the streets at that time," he recalls. "I think what happened was this kid saw Davey D. in the van, invited him in, and said, 'Hey, you can broadcast from in front of my house.' "

Altered Wavelengths
While virtually every letter in the FCC files contains a bit of insanity, some are crazier than others. Sitting as it does at the nexus of mass media and the federal government, the FCC Complaints Branch is a kook magnet.

In 1993, the agency received three complaints that charged KGO with false advertising because it used the slogan "KGO, News-Talk 810, where you don't miss a thing." Walter Smith of Oakland groused that KGO's boast was a lie because the station doesn't air local news from his hometown of Chicago. It's tempting to think that such borderline bizarre letters, and there are many of them in the files, represent sly attempts to fuck with a radio station and/or the feds. And maybe that's what Walter Smith was up to. But if so, a couple other folks had the same idea. "R. Jones" of Oakland urged an investigation of KGO on the grounds that for the slogan to be true, "KGO must air everything and this, of course, is an absolute impossibility." A third complaint, signed "Former Student," relates the story of an unidentified UC Irvine professor who lost his "San Francisco teaching job" after confronting KGO over the veracity of its slogan. (It seems station management refused the prof's request that KGO carry hockey games from around the country.) Former Student told the FCC he wouldn't reveal his true identity because he could not afford to lose his job as a stock broker trainee.

William Tennant of Mountain View was also wary of KGO's power. In his own 1993 complaint, Tennant alleged that KGO's Owens had "blacklisted" him from his call-in show because Tennant's opinions were at odds with Owens' views. Tennant asked the agency to determine if other listeners had suffered the same fate. "If so," he prayed, "I trust that you will see to it that appropriate action will be taken."

A man who gave his address as "Kentville, Nova Scotia" wrote the FCC to report that KSAN is putting its listeners at a health risk by changing the words and speed of the music it plays. He even included a tape to prove his allegations. "The song in this instance is ['Here Comes the Sun,']" he wrote. "[But] the timing has been slowed and the words changed, in at least one instance they have changed it to hero comes the setting sun."

These folks may sound a little overanxious, but they've got nothing on "James Mason."

In a four-page letter scrawled on notebook paper, Mason told a tortured tale of being "stalked" by a KGO talk host named "Dirk Van Loom," whose family had been harassing him ever since the '40s. The rambling missive went on to tell a horrific tale of kidnapping, child molestation, rape, and attempted murder involving Van Loom and his clan. Mason, who confided that he is the offspring of actress Francis Farmer and Howard Hughes, also reported that Van Loom was using his KGO show to frame Mason as a child molester -- just as the nefarious host did while working at stations in Las Vegas and Toledo. Mason closed with this plea: "Can nothing be done about this gangster, Dirk Van Loom? Lawyers and the police won't touch this. Will you?" In a postscript Mason revealed that his real name is "Robert Farmer" and that he appeared in Little Rascals episodes and Shirley Temple films.

It will come as no surprise that Swanson says he's never heard of Dirk Van Loom. (There is a network radio newscaster named Dirk Van, but Swanson says he's never been heard on KGO.)

"KGO reaches 1 million people a week," Swanson observes. "With that kind of audience are you talking to some portion of the population that is certifiable nuts? Yes, you are."

While James Mason/Robert Farmer may need help, his is not the most pathetic missive in the FCC's Bay Area files. That honor goes to a note from the presumably sane Thomas S. Mooney, manager of the San Francisco Sports & Boat Show. Shortly after KGO talk host Duane Garrett threw himself off the Golden Gate Bridge, Mooney wrote FCC Chairman Hundt to question the propriety of KGO's on-air solicitation of donations to help Garrett's destitute family. "Isn't such use of the public airways a breech of KGO's FCC license?" Mooney asked.

The terse note was written on Sport & Boat Show stationary, which carries a panoramic full-color photo of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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My Voice Nation Help

I see that SFWeekly deleted all of the responses I had to this fictional article that is almost SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD!


I also see that SFWeekly wouldn't do an FOIA and print my letter to the FCC.  My question was related to Dr. Edel claiming that the male anus was as clean as the female vagina.  I also questioned whether Edel could practice medicine in all fifty states, which he was essence....with his medical advice program.


Next time, practice proper journalism and don't restrict freedom of speech.

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