New Zanies On Radio



By Dwight Newton
Originally appeared in the S.F. Examiner, Tuesday June 11, 1963


If you approve the platform of a candidate for Mayor of San Francisco would you vote for him regardless of race, color, creed or species?

It is that last word "species" that people seem to overlook or not hear when Jim Coyle and Mal Sharpe go around town with a tape recorder campaigning for Harry Kodiak for Mayor. Harry is an Alaskan Bear.

Radio listeners know it, thanks to explanations from announcer Bob Trebor, but Coyle and Sharpe purposefully neglect to stress this fact as they record interviws for their new "Coyle and Sharpe on the Loose" program (KGO Radio, Monday through Saturday, 7 to 10 p.m.).

The ensuing conversations are inane, also somewhat amusing.

Coyle and Sharpe are also urging local citizens to join in an "Invade Los Angeles" movement. They carry placards reading, "Enlist now! Keep your former military rank." They advocate opposition to Los Angeles symbols such as flashy dressing and "poolism." They tell their interviewees that Angelenos are using giant blowers to push smog up the coast.


HUMAN BATTERY

I tuned in the other night when Coyle was trying to coax a stranger into contibuting energy to the Giants. He claimed that Sharpe was a human storage battery and that if the stranger would give Sharpe some of his energy through an electronic gadget, then Sharpe would later relay the energy to Billy Pierce for a late inning rally.

Nearly everything they propose to their interviewees is far out, nonsensical or implausible. Listen to Coyle and Sharpe for a night and you are almost sure to be thoroughly mininformed on current events. Some of their material is guffawful jolly. Some of it is sick.

But they have only been on radio one week. Time and a modicum of favorable reaction may lead to widespread poularity. Or they may go over the hill too oblivion in a hurry. I wouldn't make any prediction at this stage.

Right now they reflect a sort of blending of Bob and Ray, "Candid Camera" and early Don Sherwood. They are striking increasing sparks of individuality each night. They recently recorded a Warners album titled "The Absurd Imposters" and their radio goal is to direct their subjects down conversational grooves that lead to confusion and, they hope, high humor.

They approach subjects on the street with deadpan unsmiling sincerity. They use impeccable lanuage. They always are neatly and conservatively dressed. During their nightly three-hour stint they are heard about 12 times in segments running from three to five minutes. Bob Trebor fills the rest of the time with phonograph records and straight coments.


NEW AREA OF PROGRAMING

The basic Coyle and Sharpe assignment is to attract an enormous number of new listeners to KGO Radio. It won't be easy. That 7 to 10 p.m. time also happens to be prime time on television. Radio fans have been accustomed to catching incidental background music elsewhere, or talk shows on KPFA and KCBS.

And for years the 7 to 10 p.m. time on KGOo was devoted to paid religious programming, most of it larded with loud soap-box type oratory. It attracted special audiences but not the masses sought by most radio advertisers.

New manager Don Curran is seeking those masses. He felt that countermusical program would be futile, as would any comparable to those of KPFA and KCBS. SO he moved into new, untested programming areas. From 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., he installed Les Stein who formerly masterminded rock and roll music at KYA. Under a new name, Les Crane, he has become a listened-to, contoversial figure.

To see how Coyle and Sharpe are faring, dial 810 on the radio dial. They are different, at least.

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