Boys will be boys
Shock radio invades Sacramento, hoping porn stars, “man junk” and creative pubic hair designs will attract listeners
The tone of the anonymous e-mail message was urgent. “I am a working mother,” the digital missive began, “and I wanted to express my complete DISGUST with what I’m hearing on the public airwaves in Sacramento.”
It’s true that the content of local radio programming has taken what some would call a decided turn for the worse during the past couple of years. Last year, for instance, one local FM station ran a contest urging female listeners to send in pictures of their breasts, which would then be published on the station’s Web site. The prize? Free breast implants for the contestant deemed most in need of augmentation.
The Don & Mike Show, a nationally syndicated program carried by a local AM station, conducted a similar contest, inviting women to come into the studio and show their genitals to the DJs live on the air. The contestant Don and Mike judged to have the finest vagina won a trip to Jamaica. Risqué radio is nothing new in the River City. During the past five years, the DJs, particularly on local FM rock and alternative stations, have gotten lewder, cruder and ruder.
But no one had ever e-mailed the SN&R to complain about it, until now.
“On the night of December 21,” the working mother’s e-mail continued, “I was listening to a DJ named Kidd Chris practically verbally rape a woman that was calling into his show. I’ve also heard this Disgust Jockey poke fun at the mentally handicapped. And where does he find humor in poking fun at abortion with a game called ‘The Fetus Feud'? Obviously the management of KXOA 93.7 FM thinks this kind of programming is funny, or they’re just blind to the fact that this kind of filth is being broadcast over their airways.”
Verbal rape? Picking on the disabled? Serious charges that demanded investigation. Who was Kidd Chris, and why was KXOA giving him airtime? The answer was waiting in Citrus Heights, near the intersection of Auburn Boulevard and Madison Avenue, where, weeknights from 7 to 11, Kidd Chris and his band of degenerate cohorts—Stoner J, Pastor Jack and Jason “Hat” Murray— play house. On a recent Monday night, he granted SN&R an on-air, no-holds-barred interview.
“It was probably the Christmas Trimmings,” Kidd Chris answered when asked what might have angered the working mother. This was a gag in which a pair of young women allowed Stoner J and Pastor Jack to shave their pubic hair—live, on the air—using Christmas cookie cutters to form holiday shapes. Stoner J and Pastor Jack ran into a little problem, though.
“Nowadays, the girls are clean,” Kidd Chris explained.
“They shave,” Stoner J elaborated. Translation: no hair in which to carve a pattern.
“We had to use icing from a cake,” Pastor Jack added.
“We frosted them,” Stoner J said.
For those who keep track of such things, the star was the most popular shape. Kidd Chris made no apologies for the stunt, and pleaded guilty to picking on the handicapped as well, particularly Brad, the show’s wheelchair-bound intern. To say that Kidd Chris, Stoner J, Pastor Jack and Hat refuse to pity Brad is putting it mildly. One night, they sent him out to McDonald’s to hassle the person taking drive-thru orders. They also give Brad the ‘choice’ interviews, with stars such as Buddy Ebsen. There’s a method to sending the disabled intern out into the public, Kidd Chris admitted.
“Hopefully, with his speech impediment, something funny happens.”
Brad’s reward for putting up with this abuse is a seat in the control booth, screening calls, cueing the laugh track, and generally assisting Hat, who doubles as the show’s producer.
If all this sounds a little familiar, that’s because it is—a bit of artificial dissemination courtesy of “shock jock” Howard Stern. KXOA began broadcasting Stern’s nationally syndicated show last summer, according to program director Steve Garland, and is now one of only 10 stations in the country with an all “shock talk” format. Like Kidd Chris, Garland refused to apologize for the station’s format.
“We’re a guy station,” he said in an interview before the show, adding that shock talk is especially appealing to males in the 18-to-45 demographic, i.e. single 20-somethings with disposable income. Like the older male audience that made Rush Limbaugh a household name, these men (along with more than a few teenage boys and, surprisingly enough, a strong following of young female listeners) feel alienated by a world that has attempted to sterilize human behavior and language, or so the popular theory goes. “Guys aren’t allowed to talk like guys anymore,” Garland insists. “But what about on the radio, in the safety and the comfort of your own car?”
With that in mind, Garland has programmed 24 hours of straight shock talk daily, kicking off with Howard Stern in the 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. time slot, followed by Tim, Chip and Lisa, a local trio who specialize in news of the weird, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by the mentally disturbed Opie & Anthony from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Former liberal pundit-turned-slaphappy-raunchmeister Tom Leykis takes over after Kidd Chris at 11 p.m., and then, Monday through Friday, it starts all over again with Howard.
“I grew up in upstate New York. I grew up listening to Howard Stern,” said Kidd Chris, 27. “If it wasn’t for him, this talk format wouldn’t be here.”
Chris got his start in radio in Wichita, Kansas, where he said he was fired from two stations, the first time for allegedly saying the f-word on the air and the second time for inciting the local churches to picket the radio station, which was subsequently sold. Chris entered the Sacramento market through KFSM, but confessed his style didn’t fit the daytime format very well.
“That station targets women, and when we have porn stars in talking about murder and stuff, it really doesn’t appeal to the soccer moms,” he said.
Stern and other nationally syndicated shock jocks can get away with riskier material in the daytime because they can pull large audiences, but local guys like Kidd Chris have to play it safe until 10 p.m., when the FCC’s “Safe Harbor” rule goes into effect, or take their chances with station management. Since August 6, the night Kidd Chris debuted on KXOA, porn stars, hookers and other sex industry workers have remained a constant staple, and after 10 p.m., just about anything goes, with the exception of the f-word, which is forbidden by KXOA management. If that means interviewing Sierra, Webmaster of Sierra’s Dark Desires, a site that graphically demonstrates her own insatiable desire for extremely well-hung black men, then so be it.
“Every guy thinks about banging other chicks and stuff,” Chris hypothesizes. “We just happen to do it on the radio because it’s all we’re good at.”
One male caller agreed that Chris and crew are good at what they do.
“It’s like a car accident you drive by and gawk at,” he said, describing the Kidd Chris Show. “But the thing is, you get to keep coming back. Every night, I can’t get away from the show. It’s like a Jones, man, a fix.”
“We are the crack to the pipe,” Chris agreed.
“You know the Tony Hawk video game?” the caller said. “It’s like that.”
“OK, dude, you’re burying yourself by getting dorky about video games. You were cool until you brought that up.”
Chris hung up on him.
“I have low self-esteem,” Chris joked. On the radio, “I can bash on people without doing it face-to-face.”
It’s a technique that’s worked well for the likes of Limbaugh and Stern, but the question remains: who tunes in for this sort of abuse? Commercials for Tom Leykis, who airs just after Kidd Chris, would seem to be the most telling. They include spots for Longitude, a penis enlargement product that promises to add up to three inches in length; a recovery home for people suffering from anxiety, and a weight loss program. In other words, the average KXOA listener may be the proverbial overweight guy anxious about the size of his own genitalia.
That’s a larger audience than you might think, but the ratings are still out on the Kidd Chris Show. The fall book has just come in, and while Garland said the station is doing well in the market overall, Chris was antsy about his own ratings.
“People are listening from beginning to end,” he said. “It’s just that there isn’t as many people as we want. Radio is a habit thing. It takes a long time to gain an audience. A lot of people still think it’s the Arrow over here. Seals and Croft.”
Is there anything he wouldn’t do for ratings?
“I wish I had enough balls to get into a police chase or busted with a hooker, but my grandmother would kick my ass,” Chris said.
One of the most controversial returning guests to the show has been infamous homophobe Fred Phelps, the Topeka, Kansas, preacher who picketed the funeral of Matthew Sheppard, the college student who was beaten and left to die on a fence in Wyoming by several straights who were offended by his sexual preference. Like the hookers and porn stars who appear on the show, Chris makes no excuses for Phelps.
“He’s a great guest,” Chris said. “He will take calls. People who are on the other side of him won’t come on the air because they won’t take calls, and they won’t confront anybody. He will discuss his issue with anybody. Anybody that wants to fight with him, he’ll talk to them. Everybody else hangs up or bails; they won’t take calls.”
But doesn’t he run the risk of appearing to endorse Phelps’ point-of-view?
“He’s a redneck—does anybody take a redneck seriously?”
That may be the most important thing to remember about the Kidd Chris Show. It’s not supposed to be taken seriously. “There’s not really much to us,” Chris said. “We’re just hanging out. We hang and chill and hope for the best.”
No doubt that has rubbed some people the wrong way. At least that seems to be the case with the anonymous working mother who alerted the SN&R about the Kidd Chris Show. She refused to be interviewed for this story, saying that she was afraid someone on the show might retaliate against her and her family.
“Perhaps she listens too much,” Chris speculates.
At any rate, don’t expect him to be toning down the show’s content. Future escapades include the “Poon-put,” in which porn stars will shoot Ping-Pong balls from their vaginas, and something called, “Who’s Got Man Junk?” in which two females and a transsexual perform successive lap dances on a lucky male contestant, who in turn must guess which person has the penis, i.e. the man junk. Chris realizes not everyone will think it’s funny.
“There are people out there who just don’t like to hear guys having a good time,” he sighed.
But, he hastily adds, that’s why they put knobs on radios.