Alan Berg: 30 years since the death of the Denver radio legend

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]EDNESDAY marks the 30th anniversary of the murder of Alan Berg, a prominent talk-radio host for Denver’s own 850 KOA. Berg was a gladiatorial personality on air and described as kind and compassionate in his personal life. Proudly Jewish and at times abrasively liberal, much of his air time was spent clashing with call-in rivals on a wide range of issues, including politics, religion, race and gender.

“His humor was always political,” said Stephen Singular, author of Talked to Death: The Life of Alan Berg, “He could be just as nasty with knee-jerk liberals or self-righteous members of minority groups. He criticized without any prejudice.”

Just back from a dinner date on the evening of June 18, 1984, Berg was shot twelve times in front of his Denver townhouse by four members of a Neo-Nazi gang called The Order. Berg had brushed off threats on air from this group in the week prior to his death.

In Meredith Vieira’s interview on CBS, days after the shooting, radio personality Steve Kane described death threats as simply part of the job.

“I made a decision when I got into this business that I would never worry about it or take these things seriously… If you start thinking ‘Gee, if I say this will somebody come after me?’ from that point on you’re finished as a talk show host,” said Kane.

Berg had great impact on the Denver community largely because he pulled no punches. Instead of describing the kind of guy he was, we give you Berg in his own words from his show in 1981:

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  1. I loved Alan. I used to listen to him in my high school days, and found him to be a really fun and interesting voice. He didn’t take crap from anyone, and could definitely dish it out just as well as anyone.

    I was shocked that anyone would actually kill him for what he said. To find out it was a bunch of freaking Nazis was an early wake up call to me about the nature of those on the right. Unable to stand dissent because deep down inside they KNOW that what they are doing is wrong, and so they are far more willing to kill to justify it as result. Fundamentally unstable and unwilling to THINK. So far, none of what I’ve seen since has proven me to be wrong in that assessment.

  2. How depressing. Does NO ONE here remember Alan? Has everyone else from those days died or moved away? Or am I just SO freaking old that I’m in the “I remember back when” days? How sad.

  3. Alan was a friend of mine and a really great guy. Talk show host like Alan throw things out there to create conversations.He was a master at that. We miss him.

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