San Francisco Radio Waves w/Ben Fong-Torres

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Edward Bear on radio: a beauty or a beast

by Ben Fong-Torres, Radio Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, July 20, 2014
  • At the KSAN reunion: Richard Gossett (left), Dusty Street, Edward Bear and Norman Davis. Bear waxes philosophical: "Radio can be as nourishing for your spirit as the healthiest and most delicious meal can be for your body." Photo: Susie Davis 2014
    At the KSAN reunion: Richard Gossett (left), Dusty Street, Edward Bear and Norman Davis. Bear waxes philosophical: “Radio can be as nourishing for your spirit as the healthiest and most delicious meal can be for your body.” Photo: Susie Davis 2014

 

 One of the quieter presences at the KSAN (“Jive 95”) reunion events last month was Edward Bear, a DJ on KSAN and its predecessor, KMPX. But Bear, who lives in Santa Barbara, is never at a loss for words.

Just before packing for the reunion events, in San Francisco and Berkeley, he jotted down some thoughts about his favorite medium:

“Radio can become a connection that goes as deep as the human heart, and can get as high as the most radiant imagination can fly.

“When radio is done live (alive!), and free (in form and spirit), and the broadcaster and listener are breathing the same airwaves at the same time, radio can be an intimate and satisfying experience for both.

“With singing poets to play for us and keep us company, sparkling jesters to make us laugh and lighten up, and bright and honest reporters to keep us well-informed, radio had long been a ‘home companion’ before it became someone’s cash cow.

“Radio can be as nourishing for your spirit as the healthiest and most delicious meal can be for your body, or as empty as the heavily sugared and artificially colored and preserved food-like substances sold as food.

“Radio is as beautiful and uplifting or as ugly and poisonous as what is being fed into it.

“Radio was and is an open air canvas, with unlimited colors, brushes and tools to create unlimited possibilities. Paint your dream.”

Bear expressed similar sentiments, albeit less poetically, when he spoke with Jesse Block‘s documentary crew at the reunion concert at Yoshi’s. Asked what he learned from his time at KSAN, he recalled responding, “A radio station will remain creative, brilliant and fun only as long as the creative aspects of it are guided by creative people, not by people who are mainly guided by money who often don’t understand or even recognize what it is that makes a station popular and valuable to begin with, you know, ‘the vision thing.’ ”

Bear was happy to see that two video crews attended reunion events, each interested in making a documentary about free-form radio (Jeff Hughson, whose film began with a focus on KZAP, the Sacramento station) or specifically about KSAN (Block).

Said Bear: “I’d love to see a well-done documentary about KSAN that weaves in the best of the music of those years and what was going on in the country and the world as seen and reported on through the eyes and ears of the station.”

(Block and the California Historical Radio Society, which hopes to produce the documentary, have posted video of the KSAN panel at the Broadcast Legends luncheon the day after the Yoshi’s concert. The 45-minute session is at Bayarearadio.org. Participants’ names are in the photo caption.)

READ THE REST OF THIS BI-WEEKLY RADIO COLUMN HERE AT THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE WEBSITE.

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