[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: