Last week in this space, I promised a batch of local reviews, and they'll show up eventually. But in the meantime, enjoy this tale of big stars, powerful egos, thin skins, nasty remarks and--oh, yeah--radio.
The setting for this fable is the wonderful world of Jacor, a Cincinnati-based corporation that holds the deeds to eight outlets in the Denver-Boulder area. In addition, Jacor runs KTCL-FM/93.3 (a broadcaster officially in the portfolio of another company, Tsunami Communications Inc.) under a local-marketing agreement--and of late, the firm has been using the property as something of a farm team for its higher-rated relatives. To wit, Bret Saunders, longtime KTCL morning-show host, is moving to KBCO-FM/97.3 to take over for DJ Kerry Gray; the duo will co-host during the week of August 11, with Saunders manning the bridge solo beginning the following Monday. (Also returning to KBCO is Ginger Havlat, following a three-year run at KXPK-FM/96.5, the Peak.) But reliable sources tell yours truly that Gray remains a valued part of the Jacor family and will soon take over as co-host of the morning show at KBPI-FM/106.7. The odd man out in this personnel shuffle is KBPI's Rockfish, who reportedly is being disappeared not because of the shocking decline in his performances, but due in large part to friction between him and his partner, Rick Kerns. The pairing of Kerns and Gray, each of whom has a tremendous fondness for the sound of his own voice, portends the most obnoxious morning show since the birth of Guglielmo Marconi. (Betcha they take that as a compliment--depending upon whether or not they know who Guglielmo Marconi was.)
But while these shifts in station affiliation are intriguing, they're not nearly as entertaining as another happening at Jacor headquarters: the meeting last week of KTCL jock Caroline Corley and Dogstar. As readers of "Star Power," an article that appeared in Westword last week, understand all too well, Dogstar features drummer Robert Mailhouse, singer/guitarist Bret Domrose and bassist Keanu Reeves, whose day job just happens to be matinee idol. Because Reeves earns millions of dollars for appearing in lousy movies like Chain Reaction (I saw it last week, and man, did it put off a stench), the group is widely regarded as a vanity project. But Reeves, who rumormongers have long claimed is secretly a homosexual (an implication that he has publicly rebuffed), takes his music seriously, and he was anticipating respectful treatment at the hands of Corley, whose program Dogstar visited a few hours before its Friday, July 25, appearance at the Ogden Theatre. The threesome arrived in the company of several handlers and Eric Pirritt, a representative of nobody in particular presents, the Denver entity that was promoting the show, and were immediately set upon by what Corley describes as "hundreds of women from the building" who wanted Reeves's autograph. Both Pirritt and Corley concur that Reeves was unfailingly polite in dispensing his signature--but after these fans departed, their stories diverge. Pirritt feels that Corley treated Reeves, Mailhouse and Domrose in a brusque, off-putting manner even before they went live, while Corley asserts that she was merely trying to loosen up her subjects and was caught off-guard by their uptight responses. "Keanu became difficult, uncooperative, sulky," she insists, "and the others weren't much better."
While spinning a Dogstar song, Corley maintains that she asked Reeves "if there was anything he didn't want to talk about. He said, 'Nah, I don't care.' That surprised me, so I said, 'A lot of people are calling, and they want to know about your sexuality. Do you want to address that?' And he chose to say to me, with a snarl and a lot of attitude, 'It's your show.' And that was what pissed me off. It made me not want to talk to this guy, you know?"
Corley describes the on-air interview that followed as "innocuous," a contention that Pirritt agrees with only in relation to what followed. "She asked the other guys what instruments they played," Pirritt recalls, "and then she turned to Keanu and said, 'So you must be the one with no talent.' That seemed pretty rude to me." At the conclusion of the chat, Pirritt reports, one of the players told him, "That was even worse than when we were on Howard Stern." They then moved to the studio housing another Jacor station, KOA-AM/850, and joined "Sports Zoo" hosts Dave Logan and Scott Hastings. In Pirritt's words, "They had a great time on there. They said, 'I wish we'd spent the whole time up there.'"
They seconded this emotion after returning to the bus and tuning in KTCL, where Reeves was still the topic of conversation. "I said something to the effect of 'I promised the Ogden that I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize ticket sales, but Keanu Reeves is a dick,'" Corley recalls. "And that's when the phone started lighting up. And the bit kept going for two hours."
"The bit," as Corley puts it, included numerous phone calls from listeners who asserted that Reeves is gay; one man even implied that Keanu had "two daddies." Corley shrugs off the suggestion that allowing this to go on brings her judgment into question. "It was the interest of the audience that was responsible for that. I couldn't just say, 'Keanu Reeves was a dick, and here's the new song from Oasis.' The audience wanted to talk about it some more. And we did."
After completing her show, Corley did something even more unexpected: She went to the Dogstar concert. "I wanted to give them another opportunity to impress me," she says. "They didn't impress me in the studio or on disc, but I thought maybe I was wrong. So I went to give them another chance, scoped the scene, and without question, they sucked." So, too, did Corley's confrontation with two men who identified themselves as members of Dogstar's management. "They gave me a ration of shit, screaming at me about defaming Keanu's family and his background and telling me that I would hear from their lawyers and that they were going to call my boss on Monday and get me fired." She adds, "These gentlemen were a lot larger than me, and they were shouting and waving their arms. I was afraid I was going to be hit."
The following Monday, July 28, Corley learned that a message had indeed been left at KTCL by an angry Dogstar representative. But although Dogstar's Los Angeles-based publicist and spokeswoman, Leah Horowitz, would neither confirm nor deny that future legal action would be taken against Corley and KTCL, litigation seems unlikely; after all, Reeves can hardly deny that he is a public figure. Moreover, KTCL higher-ups are standing behind Corley. Tsunami owner Tony Galluzzo, reached on his cellular phone as he drove to Fort Collins to inspect flood damage to another of his properties, KIIX-AM, said, "Caroline is absolutely not going to be disciplined. We try to give our personalities enough latitude so that they can be themselves, and I think she exemplifies that policy." KTCL program director John Hayes, himself a victim of Fort Collins flooding, noted, "We encourage our DJs to express their opinions, and Caroline has a lot of passionate opinions. But that's the beauty of Caroline."
Doug Kauffman, owner of nobody in particular presents, is considerably less complimentary. Although he said the incident will not endanger his relationship with KTCL, with which he has worked for ten years, he believes that Corley "ambushed [Dogstar] and treated them in an offensive manner. Her obnoxious behavior on the air is well-known. She's known to be that type of jock. We see plenty of radio in this market like that, and I guess now we hear it on KTCL. It's just another stupid DJ thing, like making fun of people in a mosque or laughing about a guy who drowned after having a seizure. She can't get sued over something like that, because it's free speech. But what we're really talking about is common decency and manners, and she didn't show them any of those."
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Corley's reply? "I'm sorry that I hurt Keanu's feelings, and I certainly didn't want to cause any problems for Doug Kauffman. But I'm not sorry for what I said. My opinion is that Keanu Reeves is an asshole--and the Constitution says I'm entitled to it."