About Brad Kava

Brad Kava

Brad Kava was a print news reporter and syndicated media critic for the Mercury News for many years and has also had numerous works published in the New York Times, Kansas City Star and Rolling Stone magazine.

Brad has had front page stories about everything ranging from satellite radio, digital music rights and terrorist bombings to features on well known authors and profiles on technology luminaries and CEOs. He was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for covering the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and has done writing projects for the Los Angeles blues and rock record label, Delta Groove.

He has been a guest on "Nightline", NPR's "Morning Edition" and Howard Stern's radio show, and is a regular media commentator for KCBS Radio, KGO radio and Fox TV affiliate KTVU in Oakland. His published interviews translated around the world have included musicians such as Keith Richards, James Cotton, Paul McCartney, Snoop Dogg, and U2.

Brad has won several awards for his writing, including second place for the Best Bay Area Columnist and Best Feature Story, and honorable mention for the Best Serious Feature Story. He was also part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Loma Preita earthquake.

Latest Posts by Brad Kava

Hannity and O’Reilly, Si; Rush Limbaugh, Savage, NO

November 7, 2008 by  


The day after the majority of the country’s voters celebrated the election of a new, Democratic president, talk hosts Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly took the high road.

Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage went back to the sewers and, like monkeys in a cage, started throwing the dung.

It’s sad that this is the state of “talk” radio, which really is less about discussion than shallow thought and the kind of name calling you would hear in a grade school playground.

In Hannity’s first show he said he would wait to see what Obama does and instead of continuing his pre-election bashing, he started questioning what the Republican party should do to improve its standing with voters. (No one can make the case that these shows are anything but partisan.)

O”Reilly also stepped back, saying he would analyze anything Obama did with an open mind. On his TV show that night, he broke a story I didn’t know about Sarah Palin: McCain advisors said she didn’t know that Africa was a continent. She thought it was a country and that South Africa was the southern part of that country.

And this was the woman John McCain thought was capable of the presidency?

Also, O’Reilly’s staff reported, Palin was talking to the person she thought was the president of France but was really a radio prankster, without clearance from McCain.

And lastly, that not only did she spend more than the $150,000 she claimed for clothes at Nieman Marcus, but that she shopped for her husband and family at the expensive haberdashers. “Wasila hillbillies” indeed.

(This is the first time I have ever used O’Reilly as a source for breaking news, the first time I saw he was fair and balanced.)


Obama Nation to Savage Nation: Shut Up, Liar

November 5, 2008 by  


All last week after he gave his “endorsement” of John McCain, narcissistic talk show host Michael Savage claimed that his nod moved the Republican candidate up in the polls.

Over and over, in his school marmish way, the man born Michael Weiner claimed that his listeners would determine the election. Not could, but would. It was ridiculous on its face, but no one ever calls him on his lunacy.

He had me fearful that this country could really be that dumb. After all, it elected the failed administration of George W Bush not just once, and mounted an even more ignorant candidate in Sarah Palin.

It was a night of glee to see the Savage Nation for what it is. A load of bull, led by a charismatic but powerless demagogue.

Savage, by the way, is behind the energy drink Rock Star, which his son owns and the rest of his family sits on the board of.

You can buy plenty of other drinks, without supporting this racist homophobic hustler.

Letter to Right Wing Radio

November 5, 2008 by  


Dear Rush, Sean, Ann, Bill et al:

I have a request in the interest of the country we all love so much. Give the new president 100 days, the time the mainstream media has traditionally laid off an incoming chief executive, the same amount of time you would ask for your candidate had he won.

Three months of unity, sort of like we had after 9/11, when people rediscovered what it meant to be American, as our freedom and peace were threatened.

As President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama said tonight, the country had been more divided during the Civil War, and it healed its wounds, under the leadership of another Illinois senator. How about letting Obama settle in a bit before you renew your junkyard attacks? I know, it may not help the ratings, propelled as they are by anger and fear. But you know, and I know, a truce and an open mind could be the best thing for a troubled country.

Give him the respect that John McCain gave him tonight, the acknowlegement that he is president to all of us, and that we need a leader who can mend the divide, but can only do so if we give him a chance. McCain showed class while his booing followers didn’t, showing pride in serving a president, even one who just defeated him. You can lead those voters who now feel disenfranchised out of the hatred, into the kind of America you who profess to love so much in the name of patriotism.

You just spent a year calling him a socialist, a communist, a dictator, a Muslim, a terrorist, a Manchurian candidate, a follower of a white-hating preacher, a hate monger, a man supported by U.S. enemies, a man who will tax you to death. You heard little or none of the same vitriol from the other side. You saw instead a concerted, organized campaign that stuck to its message, included the Joe Sixpacks and real Joe the Plumbers and brought a surprising landslide of a vote.

How about stepping back for a bit and looking at the possibility of a united America, one that can take on its problems together, crossing party lines. Show some real patriotism. Support your new Commander in Chief as if he were your own—which he is. Give him the respect you would want from the other side, and show your listeners that you really do have some class.

Focus for a minute on the way Obama tried to include a great Republican, Lincoln, at least taking the first step toward mending the fence.

It was one of the highlights of a great speech, the kind of statesmanship, you must admit, that is too rare in American history and deserves to be celebrated when we see it.

“Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity.

“Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.”

Here’s how Lincoln asked for the same thing from both sides of the Civil War in his second inaugural address. Maybe you could keep it in mind today and until next May.

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

You are the opinion leaders and you know it. Your words on the radio ring through the population. This is your chance to show us how much of it is an act to scare the population into listening more, and how much is genuine love and concern for this country.

I’ll be listening. And if it’s back to the same old hate talk, I’ll turn it off.

Radio Prank Lands English DJs in Hot Water

November 3, 2008 by  


Let’s say that English radio scandals are a bit juicier than ours…and maybe harder for us to understand.

If I have this right, comedian Russell Brand, who hosted this year’s MTV Video Awards, was fired for making a prank call to 78-year-old Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs, saying he (Brand) slept with his (Sachs’) granddaughter.

This was after Sachs missed a scheduled radio interview, and it sounds like something Howard Stern would do.

But, in this case, not only have Brand and partner Jonathan Ross been suspended, but the granddaughter, Georgina Baillie, admitted it was true, and apparently works as a pay-by-the-hour dominatrix.

Check out some of the details here.

Outraged over the scandal, Britons are also finding out that radio execs at the government-funded BBC are making more than $1.5 million each. It took a sex scandal for someone to realize that?

Meanwhile, Ms. Baillie, who is calling for Brand’s firing for breaking a confidence agreement (this is against the law?), is part of a burlesque troupe called the Satanic Sluts (which might be illegal in some U.S. states).

Howard Stern only wishes he was in the middle of a scandal like this here. People would remember him. You can hear his mind working…maybe if I slept with one of the Bush daughters….oh no…I’m married now….

Stern, by the way, used to be one of America’s top shock jocks. He’s now on Sirius Satellite Radio, which charges $15 a month to hear him.

Can anyone tell me if he’s still funny?

M.Dung Returns to the Airwaves

November 3, 2008 by  


M. Dung, who flew to San Francisco fame with his “Idiot Show” on KFOG-FM, will relaunch the wacked-out musical extravaganza Sunday November 16, 2008 on KYCY-AM (1550).

Dung, whose fans include Les Claypool of Primus, was last heard on KDBK in 1992–a 16-year hiatus. He promises to bring the goods again.

Here’s an excerpt from his bio at www.idiotshow.net:

My radio journey began in Allendale, Mi. I was a student at Grand Valley State Colleges now known as Grand Valley State. The year was 1977 and I was the Program Director at student radio WSRX, my overnight guy stopped showing up for his show from midnight till six am, so I started doing it myself to keep the station on 24 hours. I lasted about a week before chucking the station’s format to do something else…I went nuts…yelling…playing anything and everything…taking live calls on the air…just to stay awake for the 6 hour show.

How I got the name M. Dung is another story :) in 1977 everyone was punk and a guy named Dung caught on quick, soon the “Idiot Show” was the talk of the campus and I found myself with an unexpected hit.

During my senior year I landed my first professional radio job at WLAV in Grand Rapids, Mi. I was “Mike Richards” from 7-12pm :D WLAV was a top 40 station on the am dial. The sister station was WLAV-FM a 50,000 watt FM serving half of Michigan.

Enter Dave Logan… Dave came to work at LAV-FM from the LOOP in Chicago, his roommate used to listen to me on WSRX doing the Idiot Show! I would work at WLAV from 7pm-12mid, race over to WSRX to do the Idiot Show from 12mid-6am OOWWW!

Logan found out mild-mannered “Mike Richards” was really the crazed M. Dung he would listen to with his roommate and laugh his ass off…he hired me to do that very show on a 50,000 watt commercial FM radio station!

Big Money to Study the Future of Radio

November 2, 2008 by  


Check out this conference being held Nov. 14-16 in Santa Cruz to study the ways the Internet can be used for radio news and for the future of media.

KUSP-FM’s (88.9) Margaret Rosas got $327,000 for the study and conference from the Knight Foundation. You can see the other big winners here. She calls her project “Radio Engage” a way to collate news from other sources onto a station’s website. Her station no longer has a news department and does a terrible job covering the local community, when it used to be a community beacon.

I don’t know…what happened to hiring reporters, who are trained in synthesizing, organizing and critically analyzing material from sources into something credible?

I know that during the Santa Cruz fires she talks about here, I had to turn to the KSCO-AM to get some real live breaking news in my car. But she says her website went from 15,000 to 90,000 users a month, which is significant.

Sarah Palin Gets Pranked by Canadian Radio Team

November 1, 2008 by  


Hey, the best I can say is that she had a sense of humor about it.

But can you imagine Obama or Biden falling for this? No way.

Then again, they know the earth is older than 5,000 years old and that research on fruit flies is more than a waste of money.

For the record, having “Sarkozy” call French singer Johnny Hallyday his special advisor for the U.S. should’ve been a tipoff. The veep candidate also didn’t recognize that her caller mis-identified both the Canadian prime minister (who runs the country next to Alaska) and the premier of Quebec. And, he talked about the “documentary” made about her (Nailin’ Palin, which is a porn film)…

I’m told that some of the French translation includes something about “lipstick on a pig.”

Totally Clueless.

Can anyone believe she is ready for prime time?

No American show would have had the balls to try this these days and face possible FCC licensing repercussions.

Jewish Radio Station Owners Upset by Swastika Cartoon

October 31, 2008 by  


The owners of Santa Cruz privately held radio station KSCO-AM (1080) were so upset by a cartoon on the cover of the weekly Metro Santa Cruz that depicted the station with a swastika and Superman-suited Barack Obama stomping on them, that they had the paper’s editor on the air for a two-hour apology show this week.

Editor Traci Hukill said she realized only afterwards how offensive the swastika was, particularly to Jews, and appeared on the air to apologize to owners Kay Zwerling and her son, Michael. Hukill said that she thought the Nazi symbol drawn by outspoken cartoonist DiCinzo, was a sign of the station’s extreme views. The station is largely conservative and is known for bringing Rush Limbaugh into the bastion of liberal ideas, Santa Cruz. However, it also brings liberal show nightly.

Hukill heard two hours of calls for her resignation from indignant listeners, with some respect thrown in for appearing in person to apologize. Kay Zwerling, who freely calls Obama a socialist and peppers her airwaves with extreme conservative views, was particularly offended.

I sat on hold for 30 minutes, one of many who packed the phone lines at the picturesque seaside station that reminds us of what radio was before big corporations took it over. I love the place, for its wackiness, impromptu localness and informality. The station not only gives Cabrillo college, where I work, a free hour of airtime for students to say what they want, but it has a mental health show staffed by people with mental illnesses (no, I’m not speaking about Rush) that is surely the most unusual thing on a commercial station anywhere.

It also has my favorite liberal host, Colmes, who has some cajones on the radio, unlike his time on TV under Sean Hannity’s foot.

I called to point out two things: one was Colmes’ presence on the air to Hukill (I know from experience that most newspaper editors know nothing about radio with the exception of Will Harper at SF Weekly). That should have triggered some question about the station’s extremeness to her.

But I also called to point out to Kay that her station daily airs a Nazi image–Rush Limbaugh calling feminists “femi-Nazis” –which, if she was so upset about trivialization of the Nazi image, she should have done something about long ago.

When I said that it upset me as a Jew every time I heard it, she responded that I should call Limbaugh and voice it to him. It wasn’t offensive to her, she said, because Limbaugh didn’t single any one person out as a Nazi. Her son Michael, even offered to help me reach Limbaugh (who is impervious to such complaints, I would suspect).

But she missed the issue here: she airs it all the time with no thought for its offensive nature to Jews and without being offended herself.

It gave me a real problem believing that the cartoon so offended her, but hey, both sides are wrong here. Hulkill, while maybe expressing the belief of most of Santa Cruz that extreme conservatism equals fascism, should have a sense that the symbol is offensive to many.

But methinks the Zwerlings, who don’t mind their main bread winner calling women and liberals Nazis on their airwaves, doth protest too much.

But they know the secret: protest breeds publicity, which they love.

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