Longtime Santa Monica resident Craig Horowitz has been an employment law attorney for thirty-one years. About every four years, however, Horowitz writes non-fiction books reflecting his interests outside of the law.
Horowitz’s “Row 47”: A Two-Decade Journey with UCLA Football” (2009) is a charming tale of three UCLA grads who buy season tickets to Bruin football games and root for UCLA through thick and thin. (More thin than thick.) Horowitz’s “The Legislative Legacy of Edward M. Kennedy: Eleven Milestones in Pursuit of Social Justice” (2014) is in university libraries across America. His latest book is “Ken Minyard: Thirty Years on Morning Drive and the Foxification of Talk Radio.” How Horowitz came to this subject is part of the charm of the book.
In 1983, Craig moved to L.A. to attend UCLA Law School. For weeks he made a two-hour drive from W. Covina where he was staying temporarily and listened to “The Ken and Bob Company” on KABC 790, starring Minyard, along with his partner Bob Arthur. (Minyard got up at 2:30 a.m. to make the 5-9 a.m. “morning drive” show from KABC on La Cienega.)
When Craig was asked by Minyard why he was writing about him, Craig said simply, “You were my first ‘friend’ in L.A.” After Minyard’s remarkable career from 1973 to 2004, millions of people felt that same way.
Talk radio has been a popular format for six decades. For the past two, right-wing hosts have dominated it, a key factor in Republican electoral success. While it’s also become amazingly lucrative (Rush Limbaugh received $400,000,000 over eight years.) programming is often described as mean-spirited and divisive. But talk radio hasn’t always been that way,
As practiced by Minyard starting in 1973 at age 34, talk radio made the listener feel good despite the politics or the tragedies of the day. In fact, “Ken and Bob” coined a sign off phrase, “EGBOK,” short for “Everything’s going to be okay,” this in spite of the world around them.
The Southern California audience responded to Minyard’s spontaneous humor, intelligence, and easy listening style as he navigated listeners through the nightmare of Watergate and Nixon’s resignation; the People’s Temple mass suicide of 918 people orchestrated by cult leader Jim Jones in 1978; the Reagan revolution and, years later, the Gulf War.
Los Angeles had its own series of gut-wrenching events during Minyard’s remarkable reign, including the Rodney King beating, the trial of the police officers (which resulted in acquittals), and the subsequent riots, which devastated the city. Then there were the brutal murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, the O.J. slow speed chase and trial.
And yet, through it all, Minyard was a fun-loving comfort to listeners as he went from the serious to the silly seamlessly. Despite the popularity of Howard Stern and the coarseness of “shock radio,” Minyard remained #1 in the ratings for seventeen years. (And did so with values he cherished, “civility and fairness.”)
While Minyard was, in his own words, “a Bobby Kennedy liberal” he never berated callers or guests with opposing political views. In fact, he featured Bruce Herschenson, a renowned conservative, as the two sparred entertainingly. (It’s impossible to imagine Limbaugh featuring a progressive guest with whom he had an amiable debate.)
Minyard brilliantly expanded the roles of contributors into funny regular and often edgy bits. Jorge Jarrin, the helicopter traffic reporter Minyard dubbed “Captain Jorge in Jet Copter 790,” became a huge part of the show. Jarrin, who has a flair for accents, would do his traffic reports in an Irish accent on St. Patrick’s Day. The auto expert, Leon Kaplan, whom Minyard dubbed “Motorman,” also became a popular contributor. (With Minyard holding on for dear life, Kaplan once piloted a speedboat to Catalina in 35 minutes earning the nickname “Flat out Leon.”)
Horowitz skillfully captures the fun and wildness of the unscripted “Ken and Bob” and other partners Minyard would have over the years. Live remote broadcasts included semi-nude skydiving, shows from a moving bus and from Dodger spring training. Horowitz also gives the reader the feeling of being part of the Minyard radio family and of course, Minyard’s humor. (Reflecting on thirty-one years of getting up at 2:30 a.m. Minyard said he was retiring “to catch up on some sleep.”)
Given the current turmoil in Washington D.C., many could probably use an EGBOK about now. Hopefully, the book signing where you may meet some of the Ken and Bob “family” will serve as a reasonable facsimile.
A book signing will take place on Saturday, March 24, from 3-5 p.m. For details please email Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a friend request on Facebook to Craig A Horowitz and he will send you a private message. The book is available on amazon.com. Jack is at email@example.com.