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First Listen: Kevin & Sluggo
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  1. #1

    Default First Listen: Kevin & Sluggo

    From Radio Insight:

    “I didn’t see it happening, but Sluggo made it happen.”
    That was Kevin Ryder talking about joining former KROQ Los Angeles (and KZZP Phoenix) colleague Doug “Sluggo” Roberts in afternoons at crosstown rocker KLOS. Ryder’s abrupt departure last spring as the remaining half of KROQ’s long-running Kevin & Bean morning show (along with the firing of his current team members) was a consumer press story of the sort that radio rarely generates these days, and so was his return to the airwaves. (In between, Ryder survived COVID-19 twice.)
    I heard the first hour of Kevin & Sluggo on Feb. 18. Because of their history, there was not any audible first day clunkiness, although there were a lot of jokes about a listener pool on when Ryder would say “KROQ.” There was a call from Bob Saget. There was also a bit involving first-day anxiety and a call from Ryder’s “therapist,” “Dr. Bruce Endicott,” who “smelled a little like Ralph to me.”
    Hearing voice bits from comedian Ralph Garman and former team member Lisa May over the course of the next few days was a reminder of how many personnel changes the Kevin & Bean show survived in a thirty-year run with a Radio Hall of Fame induction near the end. Each departure was a consumer press story unto itself and a reminder of the team’s impact in Southern California. The new program has also been a good showcase for KLOS itself, which has had a strategy of garnering high-profile talent, including morning team Heidi and Frank.
    Here’s an hour-by-hour rundown of the duo’s third show from Monday, Feb. 22. Break times are approximate.
    Hour 1 – 3 p.m.
    3:09 – Recapping the weekend. Kevin talks about seeing the just-released “Nomadland.” Friends were enraptured. He was bored. (“Did you know Frances McDormand is going to be our guest later today?” Sluggo quips.) (2-1/2 minutes)
    3:21 – Introducing the hour’s topic, gender reveal parties gone wrong, with audio about the expectant father who died while rigging an explosive device. (2 minutes)
    3:32 – A caller’s gender reveal story: the soccer-themed party where somebody got hit in the head with a ball. (1 minute)
    3:40 –The pair goof on a video for National Margarita Day, particularly the notion of gathering friends for a tropical drink during pandemic winter. (1-1/2 minutes)
    3:52 – The backsell is Pink Floyd’s “Young Lust”: “Why are we listening to a drunken woman making prank phone calls?” There’s a plug for the text-to-win contest, “Dinero-Saurus Rex,” “son” of the previous contest mascot, “Cash-A-Saurus Rex.” (1 minute)
    Hour 2 – 4 p.m.
    4:08 – The pair tease an upcoming bit, “Slanguage” with Justin Credible, night host of Hip-Hop sister KPWR (Power 106). There’s audio about the United flight that lost an engine over Denver, leading into this hour’s topic: “near death experiences” starting with a story about a hiking mishap. (5-1/2 minutes)
    4:21 – The topic turns serious right away. The first listener call is a woman who was at the Mandalay Bay country festival mass-shooting in Las Vegas. The duo shifts the topic to the importance of therapy, which the caller says has allowed her to continue living her life. (2-1/2 minutes)
    4:36 – The topic turns lighter (by near-death-experience standards). The next caller had low blood pressure and inadvertently took high-blood-pressure medication. There is another hiking mishap from a caller who didn’t expect to make it down from Mt. Baldy in his sneakers. Then, Matt Pinfield, host of KLOS’ “New and Approved” new music showcase, tells his story of being hit by a car in December 2018. The afternoon’s most riveting moment. (8 minutes)
    4:51 – A crossplug for morning team Heidi & Frank whose next topic will be which of the male cast members show the most signs of sexual prowess. (“Is that something the audience wants to know?”) KLOS PD Keith Cunningham shares his most harrowing teenage experience, drinking Everclear at a Ozzy Osbourne/Metallica concert. (Cunningham and a friend had backstage passes, but he spent the visit throwing up while attended to by three strippers.) Pinfield is back to tell the story of AC/DC’s Bon Scott seeing his eventual successor, Brian Johnson onstage with a previous band and being impressed by the singer’s anguished wails, not knowing that he was trying to finish the show with a burst appendix. (4-1/2 minutes)
    4:59 – Wrapping up the Pinfield segment with another AC/DC story: an early AC/DC session in which Scott’s vocal sounds particularly urgent, because an amp has caught fire in the studio. (1 minute)
    Hour 3 – 5 p.m.
    5:05 – The 5 o’Clock Free Ride kicks off with the concert solicit and another tease for the “Slanguage” bit. (45 seconds)
    5:10 – Justin Credible’s “Slanguage” segment starts simple with “lit” and “turnt up.” (“I don’t think we can pull that one off.”) Then there’s “on God” (for “I swear”) and “that’s OD!” (for “over-the-top”). (6 minutes)
    5:23 – The pair tease local music from the band Violent Saturn. Next is a surprise appearance by former KROQ Kevin & Bean team member Lisa May, who preceded Sluggo in moving to KLOS before leaving radio. For old times’ sake, she does traffic for her new hometown of Palm Springs. (3-1/2 minutes)
    5:40 – K&S backsell “Young and Dumb” by Violent Saturn. Then the recent news story about customs officials seizing cocaine-laced Corn Flakes leads to a bit with Garman as an amped-up cereal manufacturer who can’t imagine how something like that would’ve happened. (“I’m a legitimate businessman. I am an international cartel, er, company!” (4 minutes)
    5:51 – Text-to-win codeword, teaser for the next hour, including a tease for the Foo Fighters’ version of “You Should Be Dancing.” (1 minute)
    Hour 4 – 6 p.m.
    6:10- A caller from Oklahoma welcomes Kevin back to the radio (“now it’s all happy again”) and urges them to “get rid of all the music.” (“Too much music” is a recurring theme in the Twitter comments as well. There are also a few alt-rock fans complaining about the Classic Rock, but at least one “now you play better music”-type comment.) The pair play two songs from the Foo Fighters—“You Should Be Dancing” and the band’s real new single. (1:45)
    6:20 – “Have the Foo Fighters ever done a song that you hate?” They haven’t, and Dave Grohl is among the duo’s all-time favorite interviews. The gender reveal story is back and calls are solicited again. (4 minutes)
    6:35 – This time the callers include the father of a firefighter who pulled off a successful gender reveal with pink smoke from the firehouse. (“The truck didn’t run anybody over,” he assures them.) (2:30 minutes)
    6:45 – A crossplug for the next shift with a caller (a female marijuana dispensary employee) looking for night jock Greg Beharrell. (“He’s in his office hiding. But he can’t hide from himself.”) (2 minutes)
    I listened again to the 3 p.m. hour of the February 24 show, wrapping up the duo’s first week. This time the first hour topic was a video of a naked man being chased by London police. That led to callers’ stories of being caught outside naked, which lasted the hour, and ended with a story of a naked mom at the caller’s school.
    As some of the listener comments would indicate, the show thus far reads as a high-profile afternoon drive program, but not a “morning show in afternoons.” There were eight songs in most of the hours I heard, but 9-10 in some hours. Songs were usually in sets of two. Here’s the 3 p.m. hour:

    • Led Zeppelin, “Rock and Roll”
    • Greta Van Fleet, “My Way, Soon”
    • Ozzy Osbourne, “Crazy Train”
    • Soundgarden, “Fell on Black Days”
    • Aerosmith, “Come Together”
    • Weezer, “Beverly Hills”
    • Def Leppard, “Rockit”
    • Pink Floyd, “Young Lust”
    • Cult, “She Sells Sanctuary”
    • Doors, “Break On Through”

    One of the other recurring themes from fans on social media was asking when there was going to be a podcast. (Soon, says the station.) One or two went as far as implying that they could no longer be troubled by anything as old-school as appointment listening. But the caller response over the past few days has been a good illustration of “radio still works.” Kevin & Sluggo have been soliciting both calls and texts, but they’ve had enough calls to air without the latter in the hours I heard.
    Gene “Bean” Baxter and former morning team member Allie McKay have launched a podcast, “A Cup of Tea and a Chat with Allie and Bean.” You can also hear him between other people’s content at the U.K.’s intriguing new Podcast Radio.



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