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Balance comes to the radio dial

"A new voice, a new choice, Buffalo's Left Channel, AM-1520." That's what WWKB proclaims on the air these days.

It's about time, I say. Now that Howard Stern has -- literally -- joined the great Radio Channel in the Sky to Bush-bash on satellite radio, the time couldn't be better for an AM answer to all the typhoons of right-ward blather that have been blowing through Buffalo radio from WBEN.

None of it on either side is likely to produce much light for all the gas, but Buffalo has long been in need of equal opportunity blather. Now that Al Franken and Randi Rhodes' Air America has hit tiny WHLD, Equal Time Politics has hit it big in Buffalo radio.

Even so, I pity all those bereft fans of Danny Neaverth and Golden Oldies who tuned in to Buffalo's AM radio 50,000-watt behemoth last week to find their favorite voices and tunes locked up in the cellar in favor of left wing chortling and bloviation from the radio station that began as Dr. Frank Churchill's "Well Known Bible Witness" (which is what WKBW originally stood for).

But then, when you think about it, why not? Once upon a time, it was the ultra-progressive place on the dial where you'd find "The Hound" -- George "Hound Dog" Lorenz, playing the greatest R&B of all time and helping to invent rock and roll, while extolling the immortal virtues of Mother Goldstein's Wine and Moskin's Clothes.

I can still hum the jingle from the latter.

I don't know if WWKB Radio's Stephanie Miller and "progressive talk" is the logical successor to the Hound a half-century later but something feels right about it for the time being. And she's pretty funny, too -- maybe even worth running from 9 a.m. to noon and repeating from 7 to 10 p.m.

Actually, there's a wonderful aptness about Stephanie Miller's whole career on syndicated talk radio. Her father, Bill, you remember, was the Lockport Congressman who found himself the designated tongue-lasher on the bottom half of Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential ticket. When it came time for blood-drawing political invective, Bill Miller was a bit of a legend in his time. (I had relatives who knew him. He was, they used to say, very good company.)

You have to love the idea of his daughter making a living a full 180-degrees away from her father on the political spectrum. She's still Daddy's Girl -- a whole different church, a whole different pew but, but she too is in the political whiplash business.

From what little I've now heard of her political dominatrix act in the morning, it's a lot more entertaining than what I used to see of Al Franken when the Sundance TV channel would broadcast his Air America show late at night. It's certainly more entertaining than Bill Press, KB's early morning syndicated bore, who couldn't even make anything entertaining out of Dick Cheney's errant shotgun (his producer had much more fun with it, filling the background to Press' "progressive" inanities with machine gun sound effects).

To be frank, I'm not a radio guy. I haven't been since the era of the Hound -- or Danny Neaverth when he used to be known as "Daffy Dan" on Buffalo's first Top 40 station, WBNY. I occasionally listen to NPR news in the morning and Sandy Beach's and Bob Stilson's sometimes hilarious movie show on WBEN on Friday afternoons at 5 p.m.

And, on most weeks, that's generally it.

The new tidal wave of AM progressive talk isn't going to change it much.

Except for the occasional check-in with Stephanie Miller, the Left Channel at WWKB isn't going to nab me. Nor will Air America on WHLD.

It does seem to me, though, a slightly more apt reading of Western New York's political thermometer (a strongly Democratic city, a county that's Republican and more fiscally conservative than culturally.)

It's at least nice to know sometimes that noise can come from both sides.

e-mail: jsimon@buffnews.com

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