BEST RADIO DJ 2007 | Jonathan L | People & Places | Phoenix
Jonathan L's been around the music industry for a long time, and it's not unusual to hear him drop a series of names on his radio show, "The Lopsided World of L," that would probably make even vaunted music journalists like Chuck Klosterman and Neil Strauss jealous. L's hung out with the likes of Frank Black, PJ Harvey, and Joan Jett, and he's full of entertaining stories. But Jonathan L doesn't just drop names on the air; he also drops the hottest new national tunes by artists like Mindless Self Indulgence, Bjrk, and Sage Francis, right alongside songs by lauded local artists like Authority Zero and The Earps, as well as lesser-known locals like goth band Reliquary and rockers Run. His on-air interviews and in-studio performances are hot, too, whether he's got the legendary Ronnie Spector on the line or local garage band The Love Me Nots plugging in behind the sound boards. Check out the rockin' out on "The Lopsided World of L," which airs from 7 to 10 a.m. on Saturdays, and from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
If a Philly cheesesteak had a mouth, it would be John Gambadoro. The transplanted East Coaster has been peppering the Valley airwaves with his singular Jersey accent ("Did the Cah-dinals make the right choice? We might never know for shoe-ah") and acid tongue for more than a decade. In December '06, Gambo and his partner, Mark Asher, left their longtime home, XTRA-AM 910, to "pursue other opportunities." The opportunity was — how opportune! — the chance to assume the afternoon-drive slot at mighty KTAR, which was in the process of being reconfigured (see "Best Sports Morning-Drive Radio Show"). Poor XTRA was left holding an empty bag, as Gambo & Ash is, by far, the most popular local sports-talk show. While we love Ash, too, Gambo's the flame that powers this blowtorch. The dude smokes like a backyard barbecue, lashing out at deserving nitwits with a passion nonpareil and backing up the bluster with an encyclopedic knowledge of the sports world. A prime example of Gambo's East Coast-pug approach — so foreign to Phoenix's low-key lifestyle — is his and Asher's brilliant slam-dunk of former Phoenix Sun Charles Barkley, now a TNT analyst who's turned on his former team like a rabid dog since his unhappy parting of ways with the organization. Our heroes created a Barkley parody, modeled on the Budweiser "Real American Heroes" commercials, titled "Real American Bonehead." It goes something like this:

Narrator: Sports 620 KTAR presents "Real American Boneheads."
Cheesy singer: "Real American Boooone-heeeeads."
Narr.: Today, Gambo and Ash salute you, former NBA guy who hates the Suns.
C.S.: Mr. former NBA guy who hates the Suns.
Narr.: When it comes to disparaging comments about the Suns, you, O Round Mound of Putdown, have a mouth that never takes a timeout.
C.S.: Ahhh, I love Twinkies.
Narr.: From Nash's MVP award to the Suns' defense, you, Kojak of the Commentary, have a complaint about everything.
C.S.: How 'bout a nice hot cup of shut-the-f***-up?
Narr.: You share your wisdom on what it takes to get that ring, the long hours...
C.S.: ... at the topless bar.
Narr.: The fierce dedication...
C.S.: I'm gonna finish these five pizzas.
Narr.: So cheers, o Cueball of Criticism, there's a place for you in that victory parade — at the Krispy Kreme doughnut stand.

In yo face, Chuck. And anyone else who crosses Gambo's path.

On January 1, 50,000-watt behemoth KTAR dropped a bomb on the Valley radio scene, moving its news division to FM 92.3 and creating an all-sports, all-the-time format on the AM. As part of the aesthetic remodel, newly hired KTAR program director Ryan Hatch made two crucial moves. He snared longtime XTRA-AM 910 sports-talk champs John Gambadoro and Mark Asher for his afternoon-drive slot and yanked the popular ESPN Radio syndicated show Mike & Mike in the Morning in favor of a Phoenix-centric morning-drive show headed by Kansas City transplant Doug Franz and former Arizona Cardinals Pro Bowl fullback Ron Wolfley.

In short, Hatch kicked some major ass. Doug & Wolf is the best way to while away a traffic-snarled commute. Sure, the show's about sports, and sure, there's a lot of airborne testosterone floating around in the ether, but it's also smart and funny and even universal — in its way.

You're as likely to hear a segment about the best way to prepare chicken salad as you are to audit a debate about whether San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili intentionally kneed the Suns' Amaré Stoudemire in the groin. Speaking of debate, the show's core appeal is the interplay between Franz — a sometimes-shrill butt-of-all-jokes who's also an underrated interviewer/commentator — and the bassoon-voiced Wolfley, a he-man's he-man who can be surprisingly tender (he often moons about his wife, "the lovely Ms. Stephanie") and erudite (he once quoted John Updike!).

One of the duo's mainstay bits is "The Great Debate." An early version featured the following exchange: Wolf: "Douglas, you ignorant gonad." Doug: "Wolf, you're listening with your mouth." Other great needle exchanges have included the "Lindsay Lohan Hottie Quotient," "Star Wars versus Star Trek" (pro-Trek Wolf: "Luke Skywalker wore tights!"; pro-Wars Doug: "Luke Skywalker did not wear tights!"), a discussion about which character Suns point guard Steve Nash would have played in The Wizard of Oz (Toto), and "The Taseric Formula," in which the two use self-defined "rules of entazement" to determine if various news-making bozos should be zapped.

And oh, yeah, there's also a little bit of sports gab thrown in for good measure.

They're the saltiest set of nads you'll never taste. Well, unless you get lucky at one of their public appearances. They are, literally, Da Nutz: Joeyboy and JPhilla, rulers of mornin' FM, and two of the nastiest pole-waggers on the air. They're notorious for their "dirty-dirty" segments, where callers put their baby-daddies or baby-mommas "on blast" for a variety of reasons: not payin' child support; the woman's a ho; the man's a ho; the children are hos; and so on. This not being Loveline with Dr. Drew, Da Nutz rag on 'em all, pretty much. Then there's the show's Drunk Phone, where the phone-mails of the inebriated are played back the following day, not to mention the parodies Da Nutz rip, like their version of Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous" titled, "Smells Like a Fish." (Three guesses what that one's about.) Da Nutz's catchphrase: "Whaaaat Izzzzz It?" Their DJ: Knick Nack. Their saucy sidekick: The luscious Lady La. Their time slot: 6 to 10 a.m., Monday through Friday. Now be there, bitches.
A National Public Radio member station, KBAQ offers something for the classical connoisseur and the interested explorer alike. Fringe fans have a place to hear selections from popular composers like Mozart, Wagner, and Chopin, and symphony junkies can hear works by newer or lesser-known composers like Amy Beach, Manuel De Falla, and Hugo Alfven. Whether you want to hear some Berlioz, Brahms, and Saint-Saëns to mellow out your Monday afternoon, or romance your Friday night date with Beethoven's "Music for a Knightly Ballet" and etudes by Andres Segovia, KBAQ's got you covered. Sunday-morning fare often includes Handel's "Messiah," but the mood smoothes out with stuff like Bach violin concertos and Sibelius' "Historic Scenes" by hangover-nursing time.
And nothing beats KBAQ for broadcasts of local classical music performances. The station airs "ASU in Concert" on Thursday nights, the Phoenix Symphony on Monday nights, and the Arizona Opera on Saturday nights in the fall.
Sure, they still play the likes of Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and Keith Urban, but the DJs at KMLE also follow the scent of fresh cuts by emerging country artists like Dusty Drake, Trent Tomlinson, and that blond beauty Taylor Swift (Swift's so hot that we can even forgive the heavy rotation of Jack Ingram's country cover of Hinder's "Lips of an Angel," perhaps the most melodramatic and lousy song to hit rock radio in the past 15 years). And when it comes to on-air talent, KMLE's got some of the best in the business working the boards, including former 98 KUPD jockey Dave "The Morning Mayor" Pratt and "Big Shoe" Stu Evans, who was recently named the Academy of Country Music's "Disc Jockey of the Year."

There's no better source for big country concerts, either — KMLE's a presence everywhere, from the annual Country Thunder U.S.A. festival in Florence, Arizona, to inner-city shows by folks like Taylor Hicks and John Michael Montgomery.

Almost makes us want to yell "yee-hah!"

This station says its programming is "positive and encouraging," and its goal is to "spread the Gospel" through mass media. This is some gospel we can get into. The Christian frequency's programming is packed with an eye toward reverence and redemption — news and weather broadcasts include coverage of things like Arizona church kids participating in the International Folk Dance Festival and the controversy surrounding that Jesus tomb film. And the music is all Christian contemporary, from more traditional-sounding tunes like Lincoln Brewster's "Everlasting God" and Bebo Norman's "I Will Lift My Eyes" to songs by edgier, newer artists like Rush Of Fools and Newsboys.

The station also has a "ministry staff," which fields and airs "Prayer Requests" from listeners. DJs like Jon and Sherry Rivers (who host the station's weekday morning show) keep things entertaining with their earnest observations and clean wit.

We gotta tell you something, sister: You haven't been to church until you've been to Pilgrim Rest. This isn't about a particular religion. We are talking strictly soul. The church, which has been a staple in the Eastlake Park neighborhood of Phoenix for years, is standing-room only on Sundays, with a line out the door. The walls thunder with the sounds of spirituals and occasional funk band riffs, while big-voiced singers belt out the love of the Lord. The church is quite welcoming to visitors and you can't help but be inspired to conquer the troubles of the world — or at least the woes in your life — after hearing Pastor Alexis Thomas perform from the pulpit. Some of our favorite sermon themes include, "Don't miss your connection!", "You gotta have a breakdown to have a breakthrough," and "Put yo'self back together again, just like Humpty Dumpty after he done fell off that wall!" Go 'head, Pastor Thomas!
Third Friday art walks may not be as bumpin' as First Fridays, but the one thing we love about them is the free-flowing wine and beer at most galleries. It's a great way to booze your way into the weekend, courtesy of the artists. But no one offered a better way to get nailed in 2007 than Kjel Alkire at eye lounge gallery on Roosevelt Row. With a background in seminary training and education, Alkire's work revolves around Christian themes and intellectual explorations of religious belief. His art performances involve his alter ego, Reverend Rodeo, who gladly provided ice-cold beer to his congregation on the Third Friday of August. And Alkire's "Pulpit" exhibition included a provocative activity in which you could get hammered in another way. The back room of the east gallery was lined with panels of salvaged wood, transforming the entire space. Bins contained plush dolls of Jesus in the classic crucifixion pose, and accompanying the dolls were punch cards that listed various sins. Participants were invited to use a nail to punch holes next to sins they'd committed. Then, to drive home the point of the resulting boundless shame, Alkire instructed viewers to grab a Jesus doll and nail it to the wall. The idea may have seemed too blasphemous at first, but after a few brewskis, getting hammered with Jesus wasn't such a bad idea after all.
We love The Roosevelt. Great décor, beer, wine, and food — it was a no-brainer to add it to our rotation when Matt Pool opened for business last year. We don't always love the line for the, ahem, facilities, in which we inevitably find ourselves after a couple of rounds of libations. Sure, you can always strike up a diversionary conversation while in line, but when it's time to go, it's time to go. It took only a couple of visits to discover the holy grail in the back patio, between the bar and the kitchen. Tucked behind the tap room is a small bathroom, accessible only from outside. We can't believe no one's discovered it. Oh, wait, now you have. Uh oh.

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