15 Minutes: Morning show host does what he loves
December 16, 2005
“Davidalan,” 59, is a retired Harley rider, Vietnam veteran and now morning host of KOWL radio AM 1490. He shared his thoughts on Howard Stern, getting a gig 10 years ago at KRLT and what dead cows have to do with Corvette racing.
Q: So what’s your real name?
A: “Davidalan” is my radio name. It’s my middle name and first name reversed without a space. Alan David Burton is my real name.
Q: How long have you been in Tahoe?
A: About 30 years, since 1978.
Q: Why did you get involved in radio?
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A: I just walked in the door here one day. I walked in said here I am, with this, my great voice. I had a teacher one time tell me you are not bragging, you are telling the truth. And I do have a great voice.
So I trained under Zap. I was still going to school and was here at night. I arranged all his music and ran his show for him. I did everything an FM DJ would do.
Jerry Orton with the Tahoe Improv Players, he was doing the overnights here. He had me sit in here for a couple of nights and when he left, he gave the show to me and that’s how I came to work for radio. I was the FM DJ.
I mean, how, at 50, was I going to get a job as an administrative assistant, with long hair, riding up on a Harley?
Q: How long have you been riding Harleys?
A: Ever since I was in the Santa Cruz mountains. I worked on the Whole Earth catalog. I was the manager of the Whole Earth Truck Store back in the late ’60s. I was a hippy. I lived for 12 years in communes.
I came back from Vietnam and started riding motorcycles. In 1992, I sold the Harleys and bought a Corvette. My wife races Corvettes.
Q: Are you serious?
A: Yeah, she races with her dad. In the Silver Classic. It runs from Ely to Las Vegas. They close Highway 89 down for a day.
She races four or five races a year.
Q: How old is she?
A: Barbara is in her early 50s. She was racing this year in one of her last races. A friend was driving, and she was navigating. And they ran right into a cow. Totaled the car, killed the cow. Luckily they were both fine.
Q: Do you guys tell a lot of cow jokes now?
A: I kidded about it for a while. I’d say ‘we are having steak tonight.’ She was traumatized for a while.
Q: How much does a racing Corvette cost?
A: About $60,000.
Q: What do you get if you win?
A: Oh, just a trophy or plaque.
Q: Do you get into the politics of war over here?
A: Personally I’m for the war, but I’d also like to see the troops come home. They are there, so I support them, but I would like to see them come home.
I volunteered to go to Vietnam because I wanted to experience war. And in doing so, I was decorated. I have a purple heart from Vietnam, and a yellow ribbon at my house, but I kind of wish they would bring them home because they are dying.
Q: What is the most challenging part of doing a radio show?
A: Timing. I only have so much time within an hour, plus all these commercials. So I constantly have to check the time.
Q: What are your programs here?
A: I’m the morning host at KOWL from 6 to 9 a.m., and I host the Nooner Hour. We do news, features, weather, public service announcements.
Q: How is radio now compared to 30 years ago?
A: It’s more open now, you can say more now than you used to. The FCC is checking on things more often, but it’s still more open.
Q: What do you think of Howard Stern?
A: I really don’t care for it. I think Stern is just full of himself. He does the same show every day. It was totally boring and he has not changed. The E Channel show is the same radio show but on TV, and he just tries to get girls to take their clothes off.
He opened up a whole new world in FM. The shock jock (stuff). Think of how many people would still be unemployed in FM and AM radio if it wasn’t for Howard Stern.
I don’t like his format, I don’t like his show.
Q: What about satellite radio?
A: I don’t see satellite radio as being the future of radio. Radio is free. So you have to listen to a commercial every once in a while. Radio is free and it should always be free.
FM radio has always been on the cutting edge of radio.
Q: Do you have a philosophy in life?
A: I try to laugh at life. I have a lot of pain with my disabilities. People take me as being very serious. Because of my voice and my bug eyes and tattoos, most of time people are taken aback by me.
I just try to get by and try not to step on too many toes.
(He holds up a little statue that says: May you always have summer in your heart and spring in your fanny.)
Q: Why do you love radio?
A: It’s fun, I really enjoy doing it. I’m good at it. I’m not bragging, its just the truth. And when you are good at something, you love to do it.