In Praise of Palumbo

KRON has made us cranky by letting the handsomest man on television go

Ever since 2001, when our NBC affiliate folded up its peacock feathers and headed south to San Jose, we've been captivated by the personalities who were left behind to fill the airwaves at KRON 4. And although the entire episode is still a civic embarrassment (would Los Angeles let one of its top-tier network affiliates move to Riverside? Of course not. That would be humiliating), KRON's more casual and rustic format has grown on us over the past few years.

But nobody has grown on us like reporter/anchor Ross Palumbo.

And so, depression had set in a few bored and lonely Saturdays nights ago -- while we were sitting in bed, eating a bowl of pasta puttanesca, and watching the 9 p.m. news -- when we heard Palumbo sign off and say it was his last report for the station. His last report?!? In shock, we almost spilled noodles down our robe. This can't be, we gasped.

Palumbo, who joined the KRON team in 2000, isn't just really, really hot-looking: He managed to snag two Emmy Awards in his time at the station, which is great because it meant we could drool over him for his brains and reporting acumen as well as his striking good looks.

Did we mention that he's fucking hot? If we were still in high school, Palumbo's name is something we would doodle over and over again on the cover of our Trapper Keeper.

At any rate, we just had to find out why he would leave us this way (plus we'd been searching for a shameless excuse to call him up ...). Nervous at first, we were immediately put at ease by Palumbo's direct friendliness and considerable charm. Asked why he decided to leave, he told us he loved his tenure at KRON but that "it was time to go" -- a sentiment many of his counterparts have also acted upon. Several, such as John Kessler and Liam Mayclem, have settled at CBS affiliate KPIX, so many in fact that Palumbo and his colleagues have started calling KPIX "KRON East." Swoon ... he's funny, too.

Palumbo also hinted at an imminent change in KRON's news gathering as another reason for his exit. According to Ross, KRON plans to switch to a "one-man-band system," which means reporters will not only write their stories, they'll also have to shoot their own news segments, much like the 24-hour news channel NY1 in New York operates.

Although he has yet to find a position elsewhere, Palumbo hopes to stay in the Bay Area. We hope he stays, too. And we decided it was time to ask more, ahem, personal questions.

"So, do you live in the city?"

"Yes."

"Oh, yeah. Um, where?"

"I live in Nob Hill. And what about you?"

Oh my God, he was asking where we live! Turning several shades of red, we stammered: "Oh, near SOMA." Think of something! Think of something! "Heh ... yeah."

At this point the words came too fast, and in the sudden and awkward fluster, the interview was cut short. We didn't trust ourself to avoid asking Palumbo loaded questions such as "What kind of movies do you like?" or "What's your favorite coffee shop on the weekends?"

But if any of our local networks know what's good for them, they'll offer this man a job. In a Bay Area that allows the gruff and decidedly unhot Pete Wilson to read the news at two different stations in his career, every affiliate should be knocking on Palumbo's door -- and we'd even volunteer to help you knock.

Except for NBC11. We'd hate to think of Ross having to brave the vast and soulless streets of San Jose, especially without the off chance of running into us. If only. Sigh. (Brock Keeling)

Oliver Wang is perhaps the Bay Area's most politically correct journalist, which would put him well in the running for the most politically correct journalist worldwide. A freelance scribe for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, a contributor to National Public Radio, and a blogger on all things hip hop, Wang has a Ph.D. in ethnic studies from Berkeley and lets you know it. Sample sentence: "Though the astounding success of Sweetback's established Peebles as an architect of a new black cinema, his contributions to modern black music are far less recognized, despite being just as seminal."

Imagine Dog Bites' surprise, then, when we came across a blog post titled "Oliver Wang called me a nigger." Dated last October, it appears on St. Louis hip hop writer Byron Crawford's eponymous blog. The post, in which Crawford reprints an e-mail purportedly sent to him by Wang, is hardly vintage Oliver: "Listen here darkie, I don't know who the fuck you think you are, but the last time one of you jigs tried embarrassing me in public like this, I fucking karate chopped his ass right into a wheel chair. ... Let that serve as a warning to you that, if you attempt to come anywhere near me or my Honda Civic, I will bust a cap in your nigger ass. Two times. Sincerely, Oliver."

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