10 Questions with ... Kenny Sargent
March 22, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Kicked off this wacky world of radio with KTXQ (Q102)/Dallas, Texas' Best Rock, running 'god squad' tapes, piloting the station van (chauffeured Stevie Ray Vaughan to a State Fair Band Shell gig and nailed a speeding ticket) and learning the Marti shot would soon be my best, worst friend. Summer of '91, landed a gig with LA's Pirate Radio. Moved to Japan in '94 for six months to host the music television show "AxWave" on Nippon Television. In '95, grabbed more LA airtime for about two years with KLOS. From 1996 to 2000, was the music/entertainment dude and weekend sports anchor with KCOP-TV in Los Angeles. Out of this came... SpeedFreaks.
1. What gave you the idea for "SpeedFreaks?" When and why did you decide that there was room for a motorsports show like this one?
Motorsports coverage might as well have still been on black and white TV before the turn of the century. It certainly was portrayed as such. I couldn't relate to what these old, pink-shirt, blue sports coat-and-tie wearing bastards were saying... in the pits! Sports coats in the pits? Everyone's grandpa sure dug it. Please. In June of 2000, SpeedFreaks began its assault to turn the big motorsports leagues, drivers and team owners on their collective rears by highlighting motorsports personalities, the back stories and gossip in a vernacular that an 18 or 35 year old would understand. Grandpa was now clueless and we liked it. Think The Osbornes meet The Earnhardts.
2. What's changed the most about motorsports since you started the show?
Pit reporters are no longer wearing pink shirts and sports coats in the pits and drivers are now referred to by their name and not their car number or sponsor. It's obvious NASCAR is the 800 pound gorilla on wheels, but, really, the growth and popularity of so many motorsports is incredible (X Games, anyone?). Probably the most remarkable change is the universal embrace SpeedFreaks now gets from all motorsports series when it was hit or miss 7 years ago. We scared the bejesus out of some traditionalist when we kicked this thing off.
3. Motorsports have gone from basically regional sports to having a foothold everywhere, yet there's still a perception of, say, NASCAR as a Southern thing. Do you run up against that when trying to clear the show in some markets? What do you say to counter resistance towards motorsports talk based on regional differences or perceptions that the sport has downscale appeal?
First, the west coast has some pretty bad ass drivers -- just ask 5-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson from El Cajon, CA. Jeff Gordon, 3-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champ and arguably the most popular driver in motorsports not named Earnhardt, hails from California. Second, when we fired the first SpeedFreaks shot almost 11 years ago, cats like Jim Rome and Tom Leykis went out of their way to crack on NASCAR. Now, Rome has NASCAR Sprint Cup guys regularly on his radio and TV show. And last, we've run across some smart PD's over the years that may or may not have known the difference between an Indy Car or a NASCAR Sprint Cup car but they sure knew the popularity of motorsports to their male audience. It's THAT popularity combined with SpeedFreaks' irreverent male motorsports and hot talk topics and conversations that have endeared us to so many program directors and station sales managers. Creative sales teams make a NTR killin' off of SpeedFreaks, motorsports and the automotive category.
4. You've been working for a while with Bill Wood -- "Statt Mann Caruthers" -- and "Crash Gladys." What do each of them bring to the show -- how do you see their, and your, role on the show?
Statt's like the great motorsports Wise Man. He's been a motorsports nut for decades and can back it up with unparalleled knowledge of ALL forms of racing. What color were Richard "The King" Petty's shoes when he won the 1973 Daytona 500? Statt knows. Don't get me started on his knowledge on sports car or rally racing. Statt brings such a unique perspective to the show, and one Crash or I may not always agree with, that you'll scratch your noggin in wonderment. Like Statt Mann, Crash is kind of an anomaly as well. When was the last time you saw a woman that sounds good, looks killer and really knows her sh** about all motorsports? That's Crash. She is infectious. Imagine the number of marriage proposals she's nuked over the years. Plus, she was raised in Indy and I dare AJ Foyt or Mario Andretti to go toe to toe with her on the history of the Indianapolis 500 and Indy Car series. Plus, she's cuter than Mario and could out run AJ on foot.
5. What was your first car?
Little did I know the word legendous, a term I've coined over the last year, began with my first car. A 1974 white Gremlin with a Texas Longhorn burnt orange stripe down the side, 50's on the back and a three-speed 304, double-pumping Holley under the hood. Oh yea, Hedman Hedders and Gabriel HiJackers shocks were part of the ensemble. Swear.
6. Of what are you most proud?
Workin' on 11 years of trailblazing in the Freak Nation. Not many radio, TV or Internet shows can say that, let alone a motorsports oriented radio show. Our line up over the decade has been second to, well, none. Evel Knievel, Lemmy Kilmister, Mario Andretti, Les Paul, Richard Petty, Scorpions, Shaq, Tera Patrick, "Big Daddy" Don Garlits and Patrick Dempsey have all dropped by the SpeedFreaks Pits, along with countless other motorsports, sports, musicians and actors. It truly has been The United Freak Nations. One other moment all three of us are very proud of is the weekend after Obama was elected, and given its historical significance, we featured all African-American guests on the show. Two time Supercross Champion James Bubba Stewart, former Indy Car and NASCAR driver Willy T. Ribbs, sports car's Bill Lester, NHRA Top Fuel pilot Antron Brown & musician Jon Butcher all added personal stories and reflections.
7. Who do you consider your mentors and inspirations in radio and in life?
Mom leads the pack (sans the leather jacket), my pops (legend on WFAA radio back in the day), Andy Lockridge, and Redbeard from KTXQ. I know it sounds candy-ass, but also the baddest cat to ever strap on the red, white and blue... Evel Knievel was an inspiration. That dude bled Freak. I saw him jump in the 70's but really it was when he drove by us on a jet motorcycle that I realized why women dig daredevils. I know my mom had a hot flash. One of the funniest lines ever delivered on our show came from Evel when he called actor, and the man who portrayed him in the Knievel movie, George Hamilton a p***y. Yep, legendous.
8. You're a rock 'n' roll guy and were a jock on rock stations for years, so... best concert ever? Best album ever?
I got my first rock and roll jones as a wide-eyed youngun' at the Tarrant County Convention Center for the Lynyrd Skynyrd, Climax Blues Band and Mothers' Finest show. "Dude, are those whiskey bottles being tossed from the front row?" Texxas Jam 1978 was the greatest concert ever (I still don't know what Frank Marino was saying). That show was July 4th in the Cotton Bowl, 117 degrees on the floor and my buddy was wearing... pants. The Best Album question is always a ball buster, so this week it's a tie with Judas Priest's "Unleashed in the East," Skynyrd's "Second Helping," and Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Texas Flood." Think I'm a guitar pimp?
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _______________.
Music. Whether it be on my cable, radio, iPod, Internet or neighborhood tequila bar. Music. Makes. Everything. Better.
10. What's the best advice you've ever gotten? The worst?
The best advice was from a PD at KTXQ prior to Andy Lockridge who said I'll never make it in radio. He's right. The worst advice was from that same PD who said I'll never make it in radio, give it up. Good thing I listen to PD's -- good ones. Life's been freakin' good.