Pete Wilson, R.I.P.
I was greatly saddened to hear this week of the passing of ABC-7 television anchor and KGO talk radio host Pete Wilson. Wilson died at 62 of a heart attack during hip replacement surgery and his loss was both sudden and unexpected.
I was a regular listener of his radio show, tuning in to KGO almost everyday at 2pm to listen in on his monologues and interviews with interesting guests. As a talk show host, Wilson provided one of the few moderate voices in the Bay Area and he did so in a milieu all his own. He wasn't left or right, but remained stubbornly in between. While his propensity for the middle ground sometimes frustrated me and I didn't always agree with his political take, nine times out of ten, he made sense.
Most importantly, he covered the sort of Bay Area lunacy (whether of the government, activist or anything along the way variety) rarely examined in detail, let alone touched at all, by the mainstream media. For this, he received a lot of flack from the local leftist establishment, a reaction I commiserated with (as a fellow political outcast of sorts) and on one occasion, wrote about at my blog.
Several months ago, he invited me on his show to discuss my SFGate column on the introduction of a propagandistic "anti-war" textbook to San Francisco's public schools, a matter about which we were both outraged. It was an in-studio interview and Pete was pleasure to work with---extremely professional and a real gentleman. I would definitely classify the interview as what I call "friendly radio" (as opposed to "hostile radio," which can be found in abundance in the Bay Area), for which I was grateful.
Our conversation off the air was as stimulating as that broadcast to the public. At one point I queried him on his political persuasion, trying, as is my wont, to pin him down. In answer, he described himself as a "Wisconsin Democrat" (his state of origin) and I understood perfectly. He was the sort of Democrat that those of us no longer on the left side of the political fence have largely given up on--a member of the once mighty loyal opposition.
Afterwards, I shook his hand and thanked him for his work, telling him that what he was doing was very important to the Bay Area. He seemed a bit surprised by my enthusiasm, perhaps wondering why someone with my politics was so supportive. But I think he understood that his steadfastly sensible presence in a place not exactly known for being fair and balanced was appreciated.
He will be sorely missed.
Update: A blog has been set up for people to express their condolences and leave comments. Go to Pete Wilson Listener Comments to take part.