Does the name Ken Minyard mean anything to you? Unless you've spent any time in the Los Angeles area, you've probably never heard of him. But there is (or was) a Ken Minyard in every city with a radio tower in America. He is an example of what radioland was before talk radio became Talk Radio.
Minyard does his hosting weekdays from 6 to 9 a.m. on KABC-AM (790), right before Bill O'Reilly. He's been around quite a bit longer than any of his counterparts, but he's not syndicated like air-mates O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Larry Elder and others of the station's conservatively tilted ilk.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday September 03, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 0 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
Radio show -- The Counterpunch article in Monday's Calendar mistakenly listed the hours for Ken Minyard's show on KABC-AM (790) as weekdays from 6 to 9 a.m. He is on from 5 to 9 a.m.
He's no conservative. He's no liberal either. Not even a Libertarian, near as I can tell. He's kind of middle-of-the-road.
He doesn't seem to want to demean any party or ideology, except perhaps for the doom 'n' gloomers. Still, he seems pretty bright, has a decent sense of humor and on top of it he's quite charming.
Yet none of the major radio syndicates seems interested in spreading his radical ... centrism out across the country.
It may sound like I'm pounding the conservative talkers, but if word be true of the long-threatened liberal network(s), the style, though projected from a different wing, will be the same. And that's the point. Style is Ken Minyard's problem.
Minyard is what the industry calls "old school." Last of a breed. That means he does archaic things like letting his callers finish their sentences. I'm not kidding. Even when the caller says something Minyard disagrees with, he waits until they complete their thought before he comments.
Some of you kids probably don't know what I'm talking about. Y'see, way back before the big bad boogeyman from Arkansas, the one who kept the economy humming, became a hated president, radio hosts would let their callers talk without interrupting. Pretty ridiculous, huh? But it's true.
Many of today's hosts revel in the self-admiring boast that they bring on guests who do not agree with them, and that is quite admirable. That is, until the guests attempt to express their differing views. That's when their volume gets cut back, and they get shouted down by the host.
It's quite brilliant, really. When you are the only voice heard, the only information expressed without intrusion, without prissy harrumphs, without your volume being turned down or muted altogether, you pretty much can be right. At least 99% of the time.
Fans of modern talk will tell you that the old guys were vanilla -- boring. Today's talkers give the fans what they want: a quick and emotional response personalized with analysis that only supports their righteous indignation and, along with it, a wondrous confirmation of the fervent followers.
It's a template and a formula that works; arguments that give 50% of the information may not give all the data but will make you right 100% of the time. Who wouldn't want that affirmation?
While every other host insinuates that they are keepers of the truth who must battle every day to paint those who disagree as devils to be crushed, Minyard offers a calm "EGBOK" at the end of every show. It stands for "Everything's going to be OK." Corny, huh?
With the hosts all about the AM dial broadcasting the oncoming hell from anyone who doesn't walk lock step with them, sometimes "corny" is a nice break. Too bad so many in the country miss out on that corn. It just might make the rest of their day a bit more palatable.
This isn't to say that Minyard doesn't have opinions. I've heard him lean left, I've heard him right, and I've heard him lean down the middle (if that's a possible way to lean). Many times his take has surprised me.
The Lords of Talk are nothing but predictable. Surprise? Predictable? Which of those do you find vanilla?
Nonetheless, I'm afraid that Ken Minyard will go the way of the other radio dinosaurs, trapped in the tar pits of broadcasting history. It's caught the likes of so many with plenty of talent and air still left in their pipes. Remember Michael Jackson? Los Angeles radio listeners know well that there once was one in whom they put much more trust than the singer of the same name.
But until Minyard moves on to the legends' wing of the Museum of Television & Radio, put a morning aside and listen to what used to be and, unfortunately, what may never be again.
Until then ... EGBOK.
Steve Young is the author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" (Tallfellow Press), a television writer and the director and writer of the short video "My Dinner With Ovitz."