Stern, however, vastly outscores Bennett in a Web search. And Stern, who started programming his IBM Thinkpad to embellish his show's soundtrack years ago, happily gloats about his landmark experience with the Internet. Within weeks of signing up with AOL, he was thrown off -- for obscenity.
At the other end of the audio universe is KPFA-FM's Minds Over Matter, a quirky call-in quiz show patterned after the 1950s radio classic Information Please. This is radio like your grandmother knew it, gentle, intimate, and mercifully free of the excruciating political correctness that makes most of KPFA's programming so hard to take. Slick it is not.
We're talking three rumpled regulars -- trivia buff Dana Rodriguez, who anchors the show; former Chron theater critic Gerald Nachman; and Chron "Personals" columnist Leah Garchik -- sitting at a cramped table and asking each other silly questions, like which four words in the English language end in d-o-u-s? When the panelists have exhausted themselves trying to answer, they throw the question to the audience. When someone gets it right, they ring a little silver hotel desk bell.
It's cute, very, very cute. No Stern-esque rants on subjects scatological. No tittering Robin Quivers. No efforts to test the FCC's tolerance for references to genitalia or sexual acts. Unless you count last week's stumper on which five countries are populated by more sheep than people.
The audience, some modest slice of KPFA's total listenership of 30,000, also asks questions. Last week, a fellow called in to inquire what Dr. Kevorkian, Ed Asner, Mike Nichols, Elaine May, and Leopold and Loeb had in common. Some listeners call to correct the panelists. There was the time the panel pronounced a certain subdialect of Farsi the most recently extinct language, only to have a listener from Danville phone in and begin speaking it.
Occasionally, a whiff of Berkeley sensibility drifts in. Last Sunday, when the list of Hollywood's 10 biggest financial flops had already been well settled, a perfectly earnest caller phoned in simply to note how pleased he was to hear Inchon! among them, because it had been financed by the Moonies. One woman was sure that sheep outnumbered people "somewhere between Spain and France in an area that really should belong to the Basques." The correct answers are Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, and the Falkland Islands. We can't remember the fifth.
As for the other two questions, you'll have to call in and ask, 6:30 to 7:30 on Sunday evenings, (510) 848-4425, 94.1 on your radio dial. Eat your heart out, Howard.
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