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Without Bob, Is EGBOK at KABC?

September 13, 1990|GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Even though it's over, EGBOK.

That's probably what KABC-AM (790) personality Bob Arthur will say at some point Friday during his farewell performance as the co-host of the "Ken and Bob Company," one of the most popular radio shows in the Los Angeles area.

For those not schooled in KABC-ese, "EGBOK" is Ken and Bob's abbreviated catch phrase for "everything's gonna be OK."

Arthur, 69, who came to KABC in 1969 as a newsman, is leaving KABC and his 17-year partnership with Ken Minyard to help set up a controversial group of care homes for Alzheimer's disease patients in Long Beach. He needs to devote his full energy to the project, he said, because there is mounting local opposition to the homes.

Cute catch phrase or no cute catch phrase, is "EGBOK" for KABC?

Arthur's departure raises the question of whether the talk radio station can retain its footing in the critical morning drive-time arena. Ken and Bob were the No. 1 radio team for most of the last 17 years and have never fallen out of the Top 3 morning radio programs.

The final "Ken and Bob Company" broadcast will take place at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., and station officials expect thousands of fans to drop in to say goodby to Arthur.

Also in attendance will be Arthur's replacement, local radio veteran Roger Barkley, formerly of the Lohman and Barkley radio comedy team that starred on KFI-AM (640) for 25 years before an abrupt and bitter breakup. Barkley will start Oct. 1 when the morning show becomes the "Ken and Barkley Company."

Friday's festivities will no doubt have its emotional moments, but Arthur said in an interview earlier this week that there had been little time for tears and regrets during his final week, despite hundreds of calls and letter from listeners.

"It really hasn't been that much difference this week because we've been so busy concentrating on the show," Arthur said. "But I'm sure it will all hit on the last show."

"The Ken and Bob Company" has been an irreverent mix of news and entertainment with a changing supporting cast that now includes lifestyle reporter Ciji Ware, sports reporter Stu Nahan, traffic reporter Jorge Jarrin and sound engineer Waco Pat.

But it was the spontaneous chemistry between Minyard and Arthur that made the show click. Minyard, the more talkative of the two, would comment about news events or quirky happenings, while Arthur, the more authoritative newsman, would provide wry one-liners and snappy observations.

"Somebody once said that Ken was the joke teller, and I was the joke killer," Arthur said.

The pair rarely worked from a script and had no idea what would be happening on the show that morning until they were in front of the microphones.

"It definitely is like a marriage," Minyard said, adding that he and his partner had both gone through divorces during the show's run. "But when you're together six hours a day for 17 years, you spend more time than married couples. What's remarkable is that we've had maybe half a dozen arguments during all those years."

One of those arguments came on April Fool's Day a few years ago, when Arthur and the other company members played a prank on Minyard. They agreed to disagree with everything Minyard said on the show that day. Minyard would introduce a commercial, and the wrong commercial would be played. Arthur also managed to let listeners in on the prank.

"He became so upset that he kicked a wastebasket across the room and stormed out," Arthur recalled as Minyard laughed. "He just exploded."

In explaining what made "Ken and Bob" work, Minyard said it was their professionalism and optimistic spirit. "People could trust us to pass along the news, the good and the bad, but we would also help them keep things in perspective," Minyard said. "We could let them know there was no reason for them to cancel their bowling game, even though there might be a hurricane in Mississippi."

Arthur explained their popularity and longevity another way: "I've heard it said that it was like eavesdropping on a poker game where the stakes weren't very high."

Barkley, 54, said that he would try to carry on the Ken and Bob chemistry. "The way I see it, it's really Ken's show," he said. "He directs it, he kicks off what the discussion will be. My job is to react and to be his straight man. I'm sure as things evolve, we will be a very successful team."

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