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Like Father, Unlike Son

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Get ready for “Minyard & Minyard"--Ken and Rick, father and son. On Monday, they join the lineup of new talk station KRLA-AM (1110) in the 3-7 p.m. afternoon drive slot. But the question is, will you be able to tell them apart?

You already know Ken Minyard, the easy-mannered morning-drive guy for more than 25 years on KABC-AM (790)--partnered 17 years with Bob Arthur, nearly six with Roger Barkley and for two, until November when their show was terminated, with Peter Tilden. Minyard, 59, has a rather liberal point of view.

Now hear his son Rick, 39. He’s an unabashed conservative. In 1986, he says, he helped persuade conservative commentator Bruce Herschensohn, a regular guest on his father’s show, to run in the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate, and played a key role in the early part of Herschensohn’s campaign.

Yet in a conference call last week, their voices sounded so much alike that during an hour’s conversation, they often had to preface their remarks by saying, “This is Ken” and “This is Rick.” Ken was on the line in Los Angeles and Rick was in Modesto, which is where he’ll be once the show starts, while his father will broadcast from L.A. (Rick will continue to do his morning-drive show for Modesto’s KFIV-AM, which is simulcast to Stockton.)

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Both Minyards concede a problem exists with phone lines, but insist that on radio they’ll be identifiable. “When we start saying something substantive, then you can tell us apart,” Rick offers. “On the phone, our wives can’t tell us apart.”

“We were concerned about that too,” Ken notes, “but we tried it out on the radio, and people don’t have any trouble. Probably more our inflection than our voices are similar.”

A tip: Rick’s voice is a shade more resonant.

The Minyards have done a number of broadcasts together in the San Joaquin Valley and for three days last March at KABC. Rick, the eldest of the Minyards’ three children, had also filled in a few years ago with Barkley.

The idea of a father-son combo, a rarity in radio, began almost as soon as Rick--a 1981 graduate of Cal State Northridge where he had been a star quarterback--got his first broadcast gig in Merced in 1994. But it took hold last July after the senior Minyard--for years a ratings leader-- understood that his days at KABC were dwindling.

“We thought it would be fun for us to do a show together, particularly in that our views on political things are quite different,” Ken says. “It would [provide] a diverse set of opinions from hosts and yet obviously we get along, we love each other, and that might be instructive too.”

Even before it was announced that KRLA, one of Southern California’s pioneering rock ‘n’ roll stations, would go to a talk format on Nov. 30--Minyard was already touting the Minyard & Minyard potential at a Museum of Television & Radio gala in October. That was the night he first met Bob Moore, vice president and general manager of CBS-owned KRLA and KLSX-FM (97.1), Howard Stern’s outlet. Later negotiations got underway with former KABC President and General Manager George Green, acting as Minyard’s agent.

So what will be the focus of “Minyard & Minyard”?

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“It’s going to be a morning show in the afternoon,” says Ken, jumping to answer. “I want it to be a complete show. I want it to be like the show we used to do at KABC. For people going home in the afternoon, it’s not much different from those getting up in the morning. They want to be informed, and they want a few laughs. We’ll also, of course, discuss politics but I don’t want us to get bogged down in that. . . .

“For the most part, our show is going to be a magazine,” he adds. “It’s going to cover news, politics, sports, feature stories, outrageous stories, interviews with newsmakers, interviews with authors. We’re going to develop regular [contributors], we’re going to have movie reviews. . . . You’re going to be able to keep up with what happens in the world that day--the serious stuff and the not so serious. But it’s certainly going to be current.”

Of course, the matter of impeachment is bound to come up.

“Go ahead, Rick,” Ken says.

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“I say impeach [him],” Rick says.

“You say convict,” Ken corrects gently. “He’s already been impeached. I says it’s the Republicans’ version of a coup d’etat. . . . There’s a senator today--Robert Bennett of Utah--who says he’d be for censure as long as the president was publicly and very sternly humiliated. I thought that said a world about what [the Republicans] are up to.”

“We’re both opposed to censure,” Rick notes, “but for different reasons. It’s just a meaningless gesture, it doesn’t mean a darn thing--particularly because the president is so anxious to be censured.”

And Ken, who laughs and says he wants the last word and gets it, says he believes that “nothing” ought to be done.

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“It’s been done already. He’s been humiliated [and] exposed already. It was absurd and ridiculous and arrogant of him to put himself in a position of being caught like that . . . and now we see what is happening as a result and all the other exposures that have taken place.”

There’s one other feature of the show that Ken Minyard tries to avoid, but can’t resist talking about ahead of time. He contends that there is “discrimination” against putting older callers on air, as stations seek the younger demographic more acceptable to advertisers.

“Tell her our slogan,” Rick says.

“We’re going to be all-inclusive radio,” his father says. “I mean I want people that are relevant on the air. I don’t give a damn what age they are. It’s been a cause celebre of mine for a long time. . . . And that’s going to be a focus of our first day.”

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Along with Michael Jackson and Dr. Toni Grant, the Minyards will broadcast the first week of shows from the Museum of Television & Radio in Beverly Hills. Rick will stay in Los Angeles one more week before returning home to his wife, a crop insurance executive, and their three children. Ken Minyard says they don’t really need to see each other to play off each other’s remarks. While here, Rick will continue hosting his 6 to 9 a.m. morning show via a phone line.

And how will Ken Minyard, after so many years in morning drive, adjust to afternoons?

Easily. “It’s going to be absolutely fantastic,” he says, “knowing that I don’t have to get up ever again at 3:20 in the morning. Having done it for so long, I don’t know how to communicate what a great delicious feeling it is, to be able to get up whenever the hell you want to. Which so far has been at 6 or 6:30,” he adds, laughing out loud.

Welcome 1999: Joe Frank muses about life “At the Dark End of the Bar” tonight from 7 to 8:30 on KCRW-FM (89.9). From 7 to 11 p.m. KCSN-FM (88.5) salutes “Mame” on “The David and Peter Show.” On Friday from 6 to 10 a.m., KLYY-FM (107.1) weekend host Frazer Smith will comment, with some humor, on the Tournament of Roses Parade.

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